Del mar

A la vibora de la mar

Al pasar la barca

El barco chiquitito

En alta mar

Juan Paco Pedro de la Mar

La reina de los mares

La rueda más hermosa

Se va la barca

Tiburón, tiburón


Last updated: 6/4/2015 4:45 PM


The songs below are part of ‘‘La pajara pinta’ The Spanish collection

compiled, adapted, translated and illustrated by Dany Rosevear


Return to the Singing games for children’ home

To listen to music from these songs click on O

To watch the author sing a song click on the title at:



© Dany Rosevear 2008 All rights reserved

You are free to copy, distribute, display and perform these works under the following conditions:

·       you must give the original author credit

·       you may not use this work for commercial purposes

·       for any re-use or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work

·       any of these can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder


Your fair use and other rights are no way affected by the above.

The Spanish Collection


It is said that children who are exposed to just 50 words of a second language before to age six begin to develop an "ear" for the sounds of that language.


It is hoped that where possible these songs will be sung in their home language. An English version is provided so children can enjoy the tunes before they have mastered Spanish. Literal translations do not always make sense to the English ear so these have been translated freely (very freely in some cases!) to complement the music and capture the spirit of each song.

You will find more Spanish songs in the collection ‘Away We Go’.


Spanish pronunciation


Spoken Spanish in both Spain and Latin America is quite distinctive from spoken English. For that reason a few lyrics are accompanied by the sounds of the Spanish language. The more distinctive sounds of letters in the words of the songs are provided to aid pronunciation in the guide below. The letters not listed are pronounced approximately as in English.


a        sounds like ah (father)                                         as in madre

i         sounds like ee (feet)                                              as in mi

e        sounds like e (met) at the beginning or within a word   as in leche

e        sounds like ay at the end of a word                     as in leche

o        sounds like oa (boat)                                           as in no

u       sounds like oo (boot)                                           as in una

c        sounds like th before the letters i and e                as in cinco

cc      sounds like ks (accident)                                      as in accidente

j and g sounds like ch (loch)                                          as in juego and girafa

g        sounds like h (hallo) before the letters i and e      as in gente

ll        sounds like y (yard)                                             as in llamas

ñ       sounds like ni (onions)                                         as in señorita

qu     sounds like k                                                        as in ¿qué?

rr      sounds like a Scottish r                                        as in arroz

v        sounds like b                                                        as in vaca

z        sounds like th (thin)                                             as in arroz

h       is always silent unless the word is of foreign origin

u       is silent after g and q                                            as in ¿qué?


In Spain ‘d’ is spoken with a lisp, this is not so in Latin America.

There are many sites on line that provide help with pronunciation


Spanish punctuation


Written Spanish in both Spain and Latin America is also distinctive from written English; fewer capitals are used at the beginning of each line of verse, exclamation and question marks are used both at the beginning and end of sentences. However, for familiarity I have usually conformed to the English model when writing Spanish verse.



A la vibora de la mar O


‘The sea serpent’ is a popular game often played at Mexican weddings where the bride and groom stand on chairs using the wedding veil to make an arch. A dangerous game for the groom, as a boisterous line of men and boys barge through the arch attempting to dislodge him from his position which is defended by two loyal friends.


Watch at:





Two children face each other making a cave with hands held high and fingers interlocked. The rest hold hands to make a sea serpent and walk in a wavy line around and through the cave. On ‘tras, tras, tras’ the two children drop their arms to trap one child who then becomes one half of the cave.

The child who is replaced joins the back of the serpent.











A la víbora, víbora de la mar, de la mar,

Por aquí pueden pasar.

Los de adelante corren mucho,

Y los de atrás se quedarán,

Tras, tras, tras...

It’s the great serpent, great serpent of the sea, of the sea

You can pass through here to flee,

Those in the front run very fast,

Those at the back get left behind,

Left behind...




































Al pasar la barca O


This simple passing through the arch game can also played as a skipping rhyme, see:




Two children make an arch; the others pass under one behind the other. On the third line the pair raise their arms high and lower for ‘one’ and then ‘two’ finally capturing a child on three.














Al pasar la barca, me dijo el barquero:

Las niñas bonitas, no pagan dinero.

Yo no soy bonita, ni lo quiero ser,

¡Arriba la barca, una, dos y tres!

As I stepped on board, I heard the boatman tell me:

Pretty girls on my boat sail for free, yes truly. Well I am not pretty but as I should be,

Anchors up, off sailing with a one, two, three!
























El barco chiquitito O


Learn the numbers to seven in Spanish. Make a paper boat out of newspaper. Challenge children to make a sail that will allow the boat to move.


Watch at:





In pairs rock gently back and forth. For the last line of each verse; first jump up and round on the spot, second jump away and find a new partner, lastly skip round on the spot in pairs.














Había una vez un barco chiquitito,

Había una vez un barco chiquitito, Había una vez un barco chiquitito,

Que no sabía, que no sabía, que no sabía navegar.


Pasaron un, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis semanas x3

Y aquel barquito, y aquel barquito, y aquel barquito navegó.


Y si esta historia os parece corta, x3

Volveremos, volveremos a empezar.


There was a boat, a boat so very tiny,

There was a boat, a boat so very tiny,

There was a boat, a boat so very tiny,

I’ll tell you that boat it could not, sadly it would not, could not sail away.


One, two, three, four, five, six, seven weeks passed, x 3

I’m glad to tell you that boat sailed, gaily that boat sailed, off it sailed away!


And if this story seems too short and simple, x3

I’ll tell you it would be better, really be better, just to start again!
















En alta mar O


A melancholy song from Peru. Life can be hard on the high seas.


Watch the versatile Luis Pescetti at:




Spread out individually around the room.

March round clapping hands.

On the last line stop to mime playing the guitar.


















En alta mar, había un marinero,

Que la guitarra, gustaba de tocar.

Y cuando se acordaba, de su patria querida,

Tomaba la guitarra y ponía se a cantar:

En alta mar, en alta mar, en alta mar.



En alta mar, el viejo marinero,

Pintaba el barco, sin mucha voluntad.

Y cuando se acordaba, de su patria querida,

Tomaba la guitarra y ponía se a cantar:

En alta mar, en alta mar, en alta mar.


Pero una vez, bajando la escalera,

Los pies mojados, lo hicieron resbalar.

Con la guitarra en brazos, cayóse el marinero,

Se le rompió una cuerda y no pudo más tocar:

En alta mar, en alta mar, en alta mar.

At sea there was, a brave and plucky sailor,

The guitar gently, he always loved to play.

And when his thoughts were turning, to his beloved homeland,

He softly strummed the guitar and began to sing away:

The rolling seas, the rolling seas, the rolling seas.


On high seas sailed, that old & plucky sailor,

The ship he painted, with very little cheer.

For when his thoughts were turning, to his beloved homeland,

He softly strummed the guitar as he shed a little tear:

The rolling seas, the rolling seas, the rolling seas.


Then one sad day, while climbing down a ladder,

His wet feet stumbled, in wind and driving rain.

The guitar from his arms slid, a string was snapped and done for,

He was so broken hearted for he could no longer play:

The rolling seas, the rolling seas, the rolling seas.

























Juan Paco Pedro de la Mar O


This song is very similar to an American favouriteJohn Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt’, which one came first is not clear!

Learn that volume is about loud or soft sounds.


Listen at:




Move to the actions below each time the song is sung. Sing loudly the first time, quieter the next, then whisper. The last time sing silently - only move lips. The last two lines however are always sung, loudly and with enthusiasm.












Juan, Paco, Pedro de la Mar,

Es mi nombre, sí señor.

Y cuando yo me voy,

Me dicen al pasar:

Juan, Paco, Pedro de la Mar.

Tra la la la la la la la!


John, Jacob Jackal of the Sea,

Is my name sir, yes indeed!

And when I’m feeling shy,

I shout as I pass by:

John, Jacob Jackal of the Sea.

Tra la la la la la la la!

March on the spot swinging arms from the elbow. Move hand like the waves at sea and look fierce.

Point to self, nod and shake finger three times.

Sweep arm past.

Place hands like a mega phone to the mouth.

Repeat first line actions.

Shimmy and wave hands above head.

















La reina de los mares O


A popular skipping game.


Watch Canta Juego at:


Choose two rope holders, a king or queen and a group of skippers.




The two holding the rope swing it gently from side to side. Players form a line and enter one at a time. The queen or king drops a hanky on the third line and the skippers attempt to crouch down and pick it up while skipping. If successful they return to the back of the line. If not they miss a turn or become rope holders or new queen or king, the original one having joined the line for the next game.











Soy la reina de los mares,

Y ustedes lo van a ver,

Tiro mi pañuelo al agua,

Y lo vuelvo a recoger.


Pañuelito, pañuelito,

Quién te pudiera tener?

Guardadito en el bolsillo,

Como un pliego de papel.

I'm the queen of all the oceans,

Watch me, with a little chuck,

Throw my hanky in the water,

And then you shall pick it up.


Little hanky, little hanky,

Where will I you safely keep?

I’ll protect you in my pocket,

Like a folded paper sheet.




























La rueda más hermosa O


Despite being an island Puerto Rico has suffered like many parts of the world from overfishing and now imports fish in large quantities.

See this fishing dance performed by students at NYU Kodaly Concert at




Make a circle holding hands ready to move to the left. A child stands in the centre.


First part This child performs a solo dance while the others make the following movements: right foot moves across to the left, left foot steps to the left, all make a little jump. Repeat this sequence for each phrase.

At the end of the last phrase quickly drop down and rise up again.


Second part Those in the circle attempt to find a partner while the one in the middle finds a partner by fair or foul means! Each pair hold hands and make up a little dance.


The one left without a partner goes into the centre ready for the next game.


















La rueda más hermosa,

Que hay en Puerto Rico,

Pescamos pescaditos,

Daremos un brinquito,

Caeremos sentaditos.


Carocolito de la mar,

Que te quedaste sin bailar.

Carocolito de la mar,

Que te quedaste sin bailar.


Our circle’s magnifico,

We’re all from Puerto Rico,

We catch fish for a living,

And do a little jumping,

Fall down then leap up quickly.


Please tell me small snail of the sea,

The reason you’ll not dance for me.

Please tell me small snail of the sea,

The reason you’ll not dance for me.



Se va la barca O


There are many versions of this song to be found on line from which these verses have been selected. In some accounts the boat sinks and the waves find the drowned sailor with flowers pinned to his lapel. It is sung in several South American countries but possibly originates from the chorus of the song “Se va la lancha” written by in 1928 by Jerónimo Velasco.


Listen at:




Make a large circle kneeling and holding hands with a pair sitting in the centre. Children in circle sway gently from side to side with hands up and moving like waves. The pair in the middle hold hands and move back and forth as in ‘Row your boat’.

At the end of every verse each of the pair choose a new partner from the circle and repeat the sequence until the whole class are moving like little boats. Put three in the boat if necessary.











Se va, se va la barca,

Se va con el pescador,

Y en esa lancha que cruza el mar,

Se va, se va mi amor.


Quién sabe hasta cuándo,

La barca no volverá,

Y yo seguiré cantando aquí:

Se va, se va, se va.


Me levanto de manana,

Y voy a la orilla del mar,

A preguntar a las olas:

Si vieron a mi amor pasar.


Las olas me responden,

Que , que , lo han visto pasar,

Con un ramito de flores,

Y echando flores del mar.


The boat, the boat is leaving,

It sails across the sea,

Away it takes the fishermen,

And my true love from me.


Who knows how far he’s going,

And if he’ll return from sea,

But I’ll continue singing here:

What will be, will be, will be.


I wake up in the morning,

And go down to the shore,

To ask the winds, to ask the waves:

"Have you seen the one I adore?"


The waves give me their answer,

Yes, yes, we’ve seen him go by,

Some flowers into the sea he threw,

With such a gentle sigh.



Tiburón, tiburón O


Watch out for the sharks out there in the water in this popular Scout action song.


Watch the wonderful Luis Pescetti at:




Stand in a space or a circle facing a leader ready to follow their actions

1. Place pointed palms above head and move from side to side. Place one hand to eyes while the other rubs tummy. Swim the crawl. Open and close extended arms. Shake fore finger from side to side. 2. Throw hands in air and wave from side to side then wrap hands round body. Repeat. 3. With one hands on hips and the other held high move hips from side to side. Move hands Hawaiian style to one side then the other. Open and close arms. Mime swimming the crawl.





















1. Tiburón, tiburón, tiburón a la vista, bañista.

El tiburón, quiere comer.

Con mi pellejo no va a poder.


2. ¡Ay, ay, ay, ay, que me come el tiburón mamá!

¡Ay, ay, ay, ay, que me come el tiburón!


3. Salte del agua mujer, vente conmigo a bailar,

¡Que el tiburón quiere comer!

Con mi pellejo no va a poder.

There’s a shark, there’s a shark, within sight of his dinner - us swimmers.

He’s chasing us, oh what a fuss!

We won't be able to get away.


Ay, ay, ay, ay, I’ll be eaten by a shark mamma!

Ay, ay, ay, ay, I’ll be eaten by a shark! 


Salt water maids of the sea, swim here, come dancing with me,

So hungry sharks will eat elsewhere!

Then we’ll be able to swim ashore.



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