Singable Book of the Month – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

I’ve decided to start a new series here at Music Therapy Kids: Singable Book of the Month! I love singable books and have definitely talked about them here and here for starters. In case you missed our most recent singable story and video you can check it out: The Greedy Python. Starting now, each month I will share a favorite singable book in video form.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Written in 1953, 10 year old child Star Gayla Peevey made this tune famous. Eventually, the song was used to promote a fundraiser for the Oklahoma City Zoo to buy Gayla a hippo. The fundraiser was successful and she was presented with the hippo on Christmas Eve morning. She accepted the gift and donated the hippo “Matilda” to the zoo. Matilda lived for nearly 50 years!


Tips & Tricks

Use a big mack. This is the perfect song to use with non-verbal learners. The repetitive line “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas occurs six times.  When the phrase is about to occur stop the music and allow the child to press the button to “sing” the phrase.

Practice yes & no questions. Does she want a hippo? Yes! Does she want a kangaroo? Toys? a doll? NO!

WH Questions. Singable books are perfect opportunities for a child to demonstrate understanding of the story and this is no exception. WHAT does she want for Christmas? HOW will Santa bring the hippo in her house? HOW does she feel? WHAT does the hippo eat? WHAT will she do to take care of the hippo? WHERE will the hippo live? WHO is riding in the sleigh?

A conversation starter. After talking about what the girl wants for Christmas, you can use this book to kick off a conversation about what your child or student wants (or does not want) for Christmas.

If you would like the simple one page lyrics and chords that accompany this song, simply sign up below and it will be delivered instantly to your inbox!

You can locate your own copy at your public library or purchase from Amazon. I prefer to get my books used and typically pay a fraction of the original cost for a product that’s in fabulous condition.


Sing on,


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