7 Chinese Songs for Kids That Your Inner Child Will Love to Learn
Listening to Chinese songs for kids can be a fun way to immerse yourself in relatively easy Chinese.
The simplicity and liveliness of these songs can help boost learning for Mandarin students of all ages.
In this article, you’ll learn seven simple kids’ songs and some key words and phrases from their lyrics.
So get ready, it’s time to get these songs stuck in your head—along with some Chinese!
- Chinese Songs for Kids
- 1. 两只老虎 (Liǎng zhī Lǎohǔ, “Two Tigers”)
- 2. 小星星 (Xiǎo xīngxing, “Little Star”)
- 3. 拔萝卜 (Bá Luóbo, “Pulling Up a Radish”)
- 4. 小兔子乖乖 (Xiǎo Tùzi Guāiguai, “Good Little Bunnies”)
- 5. 新年好 (Xīn Nián Hǎo, “Happy New Year”)
- 6. 我上幼儿园 (Wǒ Shàng Yòu’éryuán, “I Go to Kindergarten”)
- 7. 上学歌 (Shàng Xué Gē, “Going to School Song”)
- Benefits of Learning Chinese Children’s Songs
- And One More Thing...
Chinese Songs for Kids
1. 两只老虎 (Liǎng zhī Lǎohǔ, “Two Tigers”)
You know the tune to this one. But the lyrics aren’t what you think.
The Chinese version is about tigers. One is missing its ears ( 耳朵 , ěrduo), or eyes ( 眼睛 , yǎnjīng), depending on the version.
The other is missing its tail ( 尾巴 , wěibā) and they’re both running fast ( 跑得快 , pǎo de kuài). As the song itself states, it’s very strange ( 真奇怪 , zhēn qíguài).
The repetition and simplicity of this song, along with its catchy tune, will keep these words in your memory forever.
2. 小星星 (Xiǎo xīngxing, “Little Star”)
If you grew up speaking English, you know this one already. This is how they sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in Chinese.
The lyrics to this song are perhaps the most complex on this list. But with their relative complexity comes a lot of Chinese vocabulary for you to learn through a catchy song with a familiar tune.
A few words to listen for:
亮 (liàng), 光明 (guāngmíng)—bright, light
3. 拔萝卜 (Bá Luóbo, “Pulling Up a Radish”)
Apparently, this song (inspired by a Russian folktale) is taught to kids so that they’ll learn the value of working together to accomplish a task that can’t be accomplished alone. Moral lessons aside, it’s a fun song to sing with both repetition and a variety of vocabulary.
As the song goes on, more and more characters join in the radish-pulling. The exact cast seems to vary, but the one linked here includes an old man ( 老公公 , lǎo gōnggong), an old woman ( 老婆婆 , lǎopópo), a spotted puppy ( 花狗 , xiǎo huā gǒu), a spotted kitten ( 小花猫 , xiǎo huā māo) and a little mouse ( 小老鼠 , xiǎo lǎoshǔ).
4. 小兔子乖乖 (Xiǎo Tùzi Guāiguai, “Good Little Bunnies”)
This song tells a story that young kids love to act out. A mother rabbit leaves her children home alone. While she’s gone, the big bad wolf comes knocking at the door. He pretends to be the mother and asks the bunnies to hurry and open the door ( 把门儿开开 , bǎ mén’er kāikai), but the smart little bunnies recognize him and refuse to open the door since their mother hasn’t returned ( 妈妈没回来 , Māma méi huílái).
When their mother comes back ( 妈妈回来了 , Māma huílái liǎo) with the same request, they obediently let her in. Note that the了 is given its full pronunciation, liǎo (not le), as is typical in music.
The word 乖 (guāi) in the title is very commonly used for describing young children who are generally cooperative. As with all of these songs, the lyrics vary a bit depending on which version you listen to.
5. 新年好 (Xīn Nián Hǎo, “Happy New Year”)
This song takes the tune of the sad song “Clementine” and gives it a cheerful twist to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Children sing along to wish everyone a happy new year, expressing well wishes for good fortune, health and happiness.
This one is also simple enough for beginners. In fact, with the exception of the more or less untranslatable particle 呀 (ya), I think I learned all of the characters in the song in Chinese 101.
As an added bonus, see how many Chinese New Year traditions you can spot in the video. I counted at least 12, but I’m sure I missed a few.
6. 我上幼儿园 (Wǒ Shàng Yòu’éryuán, “I Go to Kindergarten”)
This catchy, cheerful little tune is supposed to convince children that going to kindergarten cheerfully while Mommy and Daddy go to work ( 去上班儿 , qù shàngbān’er) is part of their duty in life. Perhaps if they only sing it enough times, they won’t cry ( 哭 , kū) or make a fuss ( 闹 , nào) in the morning when they arrive at school.
In China, the term “kindergarten” 幼儿园 (yòu’éryuán) refers to full-day programs that children go to between the ages of 3 and 6. Chinese 幼儿园 are usually in swing 5 full days a week, with 3 meals served at school.
7. 上学歌 (Shàng Xué Gē, “Going to School Song”)
Here’s another one to keep the little ones cheerful about their lot in life as they head off to school with the sun shining in the sky ( 太阳当空照 , tàiyáng dāng kōng zhào) and the flowers smiling at them ( 花儿对我笑 , huā ér duì wǒ xiào).
For better or worse, this one harks back to the Cultural Revolution with its references to 爱劳动 (ài láodòng) “loving hard work” and 为人民立功劳 (wèi rén mín lì gōng láo) “accomplish things for the people.”
Every child’s dream for the future, right? Or at least that’s what the writer of this song was hoping.
Benefits of Learning Chinese Children’s Songs
If you’re wondering why you would listen to songs meant for a much younger audience, here are a few reasons:
- Kids’ songs will stick in your brain. After all, kids’ songs are fun and catchy. This makes for a memorable learning experience that’ll keep Chinese words glued to your brain with rhymes and melodies, long after the song has finished playing.
- You’ll have fun! The sunshine, smiles, bright colors and animated dancing animals can brighten up a long study session. The words typically get highlighted at the bottom of the screen like in karaoke, so you can sing along.
- They help you achieve a diverse learning experience. If your language learning experiences so far are limited to the classroom, you’re almost guaranteed to pick up some new vocabulary from children’s songs. They tell stories and describe scenes you may not find in your Chinese textbook.
- They’re made for language learners. All children are learning a language—their native language. Because these songs are made for newcomers to the Chinese language, their language level won’t ever be too challenging. They’re written in a way that allows kids’ brains to absorb and digest more complex concepts and linguistic elements.
- They’ll introduce you to Chinese culture. Kids’ songs are often about life lessons, respecting people, family ideals, morality, sharing, caring and so on. By listening to what children are singing, you’ll learn which values Chinese culture deems most important to instill in their people from a young age.
Whenever you want a fun and easy way to improve your language skills, return to these songs.
If you want to experience more Chinese children’s songs or other content made for kids, there’s a lot to be found on YouTube and other video streaming sites. There’s also FluentU, a language learning program that teaches through native Chinese videos.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Hearing a language used while watching it in a visual context is great for helping you remember the vocabulary, making music videos and other engaging clips particularly helpful for learning.
So cue up a video and enjoy the singalong with a built-in Chinese lesson!
And One More Thing...
If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.
FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.
FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.
FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store.