Ten Little Bells [Ordinal Numbers + Following Directions]

The song I want to share with you today was a complete accident. I spent some serious time on Pinterest this weekend in search of gifts for my family, and I happened to come across this pin (while on an unrelated music therapy tangent of course!):


For the past few weeks one of my clients has been working on (and has mastered!!) ordinal numbers. We’ve done a variety of different music strategies to address this skill, but when I saw this pin, I knew that in the spirit of the holidays, it would be perfect to adapt and use this week.  And naturally I just had to share it with you too! Once things settle down, I’ll be recording and sharing my original ordinal numbers song as well.

Five Little Bells is traditionally a spoken chant, but I have added a simple tune for you along with a few more verses. I also modified the lyrics to make each line contain a concrete action. Some of the original words are lovely but don’t give the child opportunities to follow an instruction.


Here is the original chant:

Five little bells hanging in a row.
The first one said, “Ring me slow.”
The second one said, “Ring me fast.”
The third one said, “Ring me last.”
The fourth one said, “I’m a chime.”
The fifth one said, “Ring me at Christmas time.”

Mary’s updated Lyrics:

Ten little bells standing in a row:
The first one said, “Ring me slow.”
The second one said, “Ring me as fast as you can go.”
The third one said, “Ring me nice and loud.”
The fourth one said, “Ring me round and round.”
The fifth one said, “Ring me down low.”
The sixth one said, “Ring me on your elbow.”
The seventh one said, “Ring me behind.”
The eighth one said, “Ring me and look surprised!”
The ninth one said, “Ring me up high.”
The tenth one said, “Ring me and wave goodbye.”

Tips & Tricks

Sing and learn. Make sure your child(ren) is familiar with the chant first.  Repeat, repeat, repeat to give them opportunities to learn the words and become familiar with the activity. Demonstrate and model often!

Use bells. Ok, maybe this tip is a bit obvious, but if you are lucky enough to have access to bells like these or any variation thereof, go for it!



If you are wondering where you might find bells: Teachers, check with your school’s music teacher.  Parents and clinicians, ask your local music therapist, check out Hobby Lobby or Michael’s and buy a pack of single jingle bells. String them together or use them alone.  If you’re in the market for instruments, here is a great starting point: West Music Bells.

Get moving. You might want to present this as a movement and imitation activity. Give the child a bell and let them follow the instructions as you sing.

Use a visual. I created this visual specifically for this song. If you want your copy, scroll down and subscribe to our email list and you’ll get it instantly. Instruments are fun but not a necessity. I have practiced the song both ways to reinforce learning!

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.35.49 AM

Make a card game.  Lay the bells (visual or the real thing) out in front of you.  Using cards with the printed ordinal number, have the child place the ordinal number where it belongs after you sing/chant the corresponding song lyric.

Check for comprehension.  You can cut each lyric apart on its own card and have the child “pick a card.” The child reads the card and has to select the correct bell and perform the corresponding action.



You may have noticed that each line of the melody sounds very similar. It is the same chord progression over and over. This way the song can easily be sung in any order! There is also extra space to allow time for the child’s response. And if you need more time, just keep the pause button handy! Don’t forget, to get the corresponding visual – subscribe below and it will be delivered to your inbox. 🙂

You can also get your very own copy of the song plus the visual in our store!

Sing on,


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