Top 20 – The Best Songs For Kids That You Can Play On The Guitar To Make Kids Happy!

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

Ever had kids around you when you had the guitar, and wondered what songs you should play to make them happy? Here are a couple of ideas for you about the best songs for kids!

So as some of you might have read already about my summer in an Austin Texas summer camp where I worked as a musical director and song leader. I always loved being around kids, but now I also received the experience of how to use the guitar to put a smile on children’s faces, and I am happy to share it with anyone who’s interested! Below are the songs that I used during that summer and I found out that kids enjoyed the most. Enjoy!

best kids songs

That’s how it looks like when you really hit it with a good song for kids – everybody’s on fire. This is me at a summer camp in Austin TX where I worked as a musical director. Read some song-leading tips here

Click on the name of the song to be linked to the Ultimate Guitar chord sheets page.

Top 20 – The Best Songs For Kids That You Can Play On Guitar

20 – Bill Haley – Rock Around The Clock (1956) (Click On The Name Of The Song For Chord Sheets)

Just be careful not to fumble your tongue with the quick lyrics, but kids love it! Teach them the lyrics and challenge them to sing it fast enough like the original. It’s also very fun to play on the guitar.

Bill Haley – Rock Around The Clock (1956)

19 – Bastille – Pompeii

Bastille – Pompeii

18 – Van Morrisson – Brown Eyed Girl (1967)

Kids just love the “sha-la-la” part, and I just find the harmonic progression here very pleasurable, which is what probably makes this song so likable besides the sweet lyrics. Especially liked by brown eyed girls…

Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl (Original Version)

17 – Randy Newman – You’ve Got A Friend In Me (Toy Story) (1995)

This beautiful song reminds people of Toy Story and immediately puts a smile on their faces… Love it!

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Check out this beautiful cover here by OrtoPilot that will show you a great way you can play it on the guitar.

Also, here’s a gorgeous piano version played live by Randy Newman in a Jazz festival in Germany in 2006.

You've Got A Friend In Me – Randy Newman (Toy Story Edition)

16 – Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy (1988)

This one is also a great song and a great example of fine whistling, so try to teach the kids to whistle this solo!

Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry Be Happy

15 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama (1974)

No matter in which state you are, people just love screaming along to this one…

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

14 – American Authors – Best Day Of My Life (2013)

Kinda silly and can’t say it’s my favorite – but the toddlers will keep asking for it…

American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

13 – Miley Cyrus – Party In The USA (2010)

This one I found to be a big favorite amongst early teens, like 9-13 year olds. The strumming pattern is a bit tricky and involves a lot of muting so listen to the original to figure it out – once you get it under control it’s a big fun to play this one!

Miley Cyrus – Party In The U.S.A.

12 – Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1960)

Especially for when everybody is in a super-friendly mood…

And check out this awesome Rolling Stone article: 20 Best Covers Of “Stand By Me”!

Apparently, among those who covered this hit are: John Lennon, Muhammad Ali (yes!), Otis Redding, U2, Timon & Pumba and others.

11 – You Are My Sunshine

An American classic. When you start playing it, the kids usually yell “hey! My mom sings that to me every night when I go to bed”… And adults like it too just as much!

You Are My Sunshine .. Original Song…

10 – Elton John – Can You Feel The Love Tonight (1997)

Because everybody loves The Lion King…

Can you feel the love tonight – Elton John (Lyrics)

9 – Outkast – Hey Ya (2003)

Don’t forget to clap at the beginning! (-:

OutKast – Hey Ya!

8 – John Denver – Country Roads (1975)

I like to play it as a mix between the original version and this modern version by Hermes House Band.

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

7 – Anna Kendrick – The Cups Song (2012)

Teach a kid how to actually play it with a cup and he will be happy and keep bragging about it for 2 weeks straight!

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This is a superb cover of it by 4 very talented young people!

Anna Kendrick – Cups (Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone”)

6 – Smashmouth – Allstar (2001)

 The spirit of Shrek lives on…

Smash Mouth – All Star

5 – Bill Withers – Lean On Me (1972)

Another one for the friendly times! “Playing For Change” recently did a BEAUTIFUL cover of it that ranges over about 15 countries. If you don’t know them and what theyr’e about – check it out right here, and you’re also welcome to check out: Top 7 “Playing For Change” Epic Street Covers From Around The World.

Bill Withers – Lean On Me

4 – Train – Hey Soul Sister (2010)

Fun to sing and dance along to! Voice-wise, it can be very challenging to sing like the original. When it’s on the key of C, notice the capo on 4, and some of you may have to put it even higher. For my voice it somehow felt best with capo on 8, so feel free to play around.

Train – Hey, Soul Sister

3 – Bob Marley – One Love, and all the rest of his more upbeat songs!

A lot of of Bob Marley songs just seem like they were naturally written for kids when you come to think of it. So take advantage and make the children happy with his great repertoire!

Bob Marley – One Love

2 – Taylor Swift – Shake It Off  (2014)

It might feel a bit silly to play and sing, but give it a chance! I fell for it too and I am certainly not a Taylor Swift fan. AND can’t argue with the fact that it’s a smashing hit and will probably continue to be loved among youngsters.

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Make sure to not show them the video which is not really appropriate for kids.

By the way – check out this bluesy and soulful cover of Shake It Off by an extremely talented guitar player.

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

1 – Katy Perry – Firework, Roar (2010, 2013)

Yes, you might not like Katy Perry, but she’s probably the number one music star among kids in America. If you want to create a real dynamite effect with children – mash up these two hits by her, they are both in the key of G so it sounds natural. The end of the chorus is a good mashup point. Be sure there is enough space for them in the room to dance and go crazy in…

Katy Perry – Roar (Official)


Most of the time, any other current top 40 hit (which is kids appropriate) can also a great idea since the kids will mostly know these songs.

I really like how the list turned out to have songs from as early as 60 years ago. (Stand By Me) Kids can appreciate good songs too and not just MTV hits, so give them a try, and have fun! If you are willing, your guitar is a very powerful tool that will let you spread the love and the smiles, and bring happiness to other lives as well as yours.

Have fun!


best singing tips (2)

If you’ll be comfortable with your singing – you will have a much better time and the kids are more likely to join the vibes and sing as well. Here are a couple of very effective singing tips:

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2 comments for “Top 20 – The Best Songs For Kids That You Can Play On The Guitar To Make Kids Happy!

  1. Kara
    October 28, 2017 at 11:46 PM

    Great list! A good one to add is CCR Lookin Out My Backdoor. It’s the only one I had for em til you. Thanks 🙂

    • Alon Cooper
      November 2, 2017 at 10:04 AM

      Thanks Kara. Love this song! (and CCR in general)

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