This is one that I highly recommend doing with your younger students. When my kids play it, I give them a bluebird finger puppet that lands on the head of a classmate at the end of the song. The kids trade the bluebird throughout and never seem to tire from playing the game. This is also on that is very pleasant to listen to as they sing.
I have added a link to purchase your own bluebird finger puppet below. This is not a paid advertisement and I do not receive any commission for the link.
Suggested Grade Levels: Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
2. Take a little redbird, pat him on the shoulder. (3x)
Oh, Johnny aren’t you tired?
3. Redbird, redbird, through my window. (3x)
Oh, Johnny aren’t you tired?
***Note: I have slightly altered the lyrics to reflect the version that I learned and use with my students. The melody is the same as what is listed on Holy Names University’s website.
According to the Holy Names University Kodály Center website, Bluebird Through My Window was recorded in 1935 in Georgia by Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle. The performance was done by African American children. This song is very closely related to another song titled Here Comes a Bluebird. While there are similarities in the games, Here Comes a Bluebird was recorded in Illinois. It is interesting to see how similar songs emerge through different geographic regions.
As for the origin of the song, it is most likely that Bluebird Through My Window was created by African American children as a circle game. They would change the color of the bird to correspond with the color of clothing they were wearing. It is possible that “bluebird” was selected as the title placeholder due to a superstition that reports seeing a bluebird, especially in the morning, would bring the viewer good luck.
Option 1: This is what I do with my students. Children link hands and form a standing circle. One child, the “bluebird,” takes a bluebird puppet and weaves in and out of the windows created by their peers lifting their hands in the air. At the end of the song, the “bluebird” must gently place the bluebird puppet on a classmate’s head. This child will be the new bluebird. (If the “bluebird” is reluctant to choose, I will sing “Oh, Johnny aren’t you tired?” and substitute Johnny for another student’s name.) For this version of the game, we only sing the first verse.
Option 2: Children create a standing circle with their arms lifted to create “windows.” One child is the “bluebird” and weaves in and out through the windows. During the second verse, the “bluebird” stops and taps another child on the shoulders. The “bluebird” will keep their hands on that child’s shoulders and follow them. The child they tapped will become the new “bluebird” and repeat the game until all children have formed a connected line that weaves through the windows.
–Singing minor 3rds (s-m, f-r)
–Connected, legato singing
–Half note identification and performance
–Swinging eighth notes
–Placing/identifying “fa” and “re” on the staff
—Cardinal superstitions. (2012). The Cardinal Experience. http://www.thecardinalexperience.com/superstitions.php#.YK6U4JNueWA
–Holy Names University. (n.d.). Bluebird through my window. Kodály Center: The American Folk Song Collection. https://kodaly.hnu.edu/song.cfm?id=666
— Holy Names University. (n.d.). Here comes a bluebird. Kodály Center: The American Folk Song Collection. https://kodaly.hnu.edu/song.cfm?id=844
–Oakes, D. K. (2013, April 24). Bluebird through my window demo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MibnLIXnLcE
–Powell, A. (2016, November 3). “Bluebird bluebird through my window” (lyrics & playing instructions). Pancocojams. http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/11/bluebird-bluebird-through-my-window.html
–Stewart, S. (February 2009). Bluebird through my window. Nancy Stewart, Children’s Music Concert & Recording Artist. https://nancymusic.com/SOM/2009/bluebird-through-my-window.htm