top of page

5 Dutch nursery songs: to practice your Dutch pronunciation!

If you have Dutch parents or grandparents, you will probably know these cute Dutch nursery songs. Nursery songs are a great way to practice your Dutch pronunciation because of the rhyming lines and short verses. And if you know a Dutchie, they will probably know the songs too and you can sing it with them!


I have included a little description and history, the English translation, and a link to YouTube where you can listen to the song.


Here are five nursery songs to practice your Dutch pronunciation!


1. Hansje Pansje kevertje

This song is sung to the beat of Itsy bitsy spider. It's about a little beetle climbing up a fence.


Hansje Pansje kevertje, die klom eens op een hek.

Neer viel de regen, die spoelde alles weg.

Op kwam het zonnetje, en maakte alles droog.

Hansje Pansje kevertje, die klom toen weer omhoog.


You can listen to the song here.

English translation:

Hansje Pansje beetle, climbed upon a fence. Down came the rain, that washed everything away. Out came the sun and dried everything up. Hansje Pansje beetle then climbed back up again.

2. Naar bed, naar bed, zei Duimelot

This is one of the most famous Dutch nursery rhymes. As you progress through the rhyme you go from a fist to an open hand. With every line, you add one finger and move it a little.

The lines of of the nursery rhyme Naar bed, naar bed, zei Duimelot.

  1. Naar bed, naar bed, zei Duimelot;

  2. Eerst nog wat eten, zei Likkepot;

  3. Waar zal ik het halen? vroeg Langejan;

  4. Uit grootmoeders kastje, zei Ringeling;

  5. Dat zal ik verklappen, zei 't kleine ding.


You can listen to the rhyme and see the hand gestures here.

English translation:

1. To bed, to bed, said Duimelot.

2. Let's eat something first, said Likkepot.

3. Where should I get it, said Langejan.

4. From grandmother's cabinet, said Ringeling.

5. I'm going to tell on you, said the little thing!

3. Klap eens in je handjes

This classic Dutch nursery song is traced back all the way to the early 1800's. It is mostly sung to babies and has handgestures like the first song. If you sing it to a little one, you can help them make the gestures or make the gestures yourself.

One of the lines says "boze bolletje" (angry head), but originally they sung "broze bolletje" (brittle head). Over the years the r is forgotten. Some versions today don't sing 'boze' but 'blije' (happy).


Klap eens in je handjes, blij blij blij;

op je boze bolletje, allebei.

Handjes in de hoogte, handjes in je zij;

Zo varen de scheepjes voorbij.

Zo varen de scheepjes voorbij.


You can listen to the song and see the handgestures here.

English translation:

Clap your in your (little) hands, happy, happy, happy;

up on your angry head, both of them.

(Little) hands up high, (little) hands on your sides.

That's the way the (little) ships sail away.

That's the way the (little) ships sail away.

4. Elsje Fiederelsje

Els is a common traditional name in the Netherlands. The 'je' at the end of a Dutch word indicates it's small or cute. You can add it to a name, like 'Elsje' but also to a word: 'klompje' (little wooden shoe).

However, this song is not as innocent as it seems. Fietern or Fiedern is Gronings dialect for making love. Fiederelsje is thus not really a cute name. It is said that the line "maar het meel is zo duur" (the flour is so expensive) refers to Elsje having to sell her body. And the line "Kom op bezoek" (come and visit) might hint to welcoming new customers.


Elsje Fiederelsje, zet je klompjes bij 't vuur. Moeder bakt pannenkoeken, maar het meel is zo duur. Tingelinge pannenkoek, meel met rozijnen. Tingelinge pannenkoek, kom op bezoek.


You can listen to the song here.

English translation:

Elsje Fiederelsje,

put your (little) clogs by the fire.

Mother makes pancakes,

but the flour is so expensive.


Tingelinge, pancake,

flour with raisins.

Tingelinge, pancake,

come and visit.

5. Slaap kindje slaap

This classic bedtime song is a must when you're singing Dutch nursery rhymes. Because this song is also quite old, different versions exist. This is the version as I sang it growing up around Gouda. Sometimes we would change the lyrics to 'je vader/moeder is een aap' (your father/mother is a monkey)!


Slaap kindje slaap,

daar buiten loopt een schaap.

Een schaap met witte voetjes,

die drinkt zijn melk zo zoetjes.

Slaap kindje slaap,

daar buiten loopt een schaap.


You can listen to the song here.

English translation:

Sleep, baby sleep,

Outside there walks a sheep,

A sheep with white feet,

Who drinks his milk so sweet,

Sleep, baby sleep,

Outside there walks a sheep.


I hope you have a lot of fun singing these Nederlandse kinderliedjes (Dutch nursery rhymes)! Well... Maybe not with singing Elsje Fiederelsje.


Check out Dutch Academy on Facebook and Instagram for more Dutch content!

1,374 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page