Playing the ukulele makes me happy. It reminds me of summertime and being at the beach.

Do you get that same feeling when you play?

Recently, I started ukulele lessons with a three-year-old. It’s been fun to come up with a short lesson structure for this age group, and the lessons have been going very well.

So, how do I structure lessons for a three-year-old? I have four main parts to the lesson.

1) Warm Up Song: We start off with a warm up song I created, called “Ukulele, Ukulele, Strum Strum Strum.” It’s a piggy back song to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?” (isn’t that just the best song to piggyback when you’re working with kids?!)

These are the lyrics:
Ukulele, ukulele
Strum, strum, strum,
Strum, strum, strum
We’re playing ukulele,
We’re playing ukulele,
Strum, strum, strum
Strum, strum, strum

It’s not going to win any Grammys that’s for sure, but it’s simple and to the point – perfect for a young child.

2) One-Chord Songs: Following our warm up, the child gets to choose a few one-chord songs to play (I also throw in some two-chord song choices that just have one V7 chord at the end that won’t be missed if it isn’t played). We start off playing all songs in the key of C.

Some of our favorite one- and simple two-chord songs are:
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Ten in the Bed
Wheels on the Bus
Five Little Monkeys

(Fun fact: I started off as a Music Education major in college at University of Miami, and I remember making a binder of one-chord songs, two-chord songs and three-chord songs for musical experiences just like this one!)

3) Shake Your Sillies: It’s hard to sit in a lesson for even 15 minutes and sometimes little hands get tired making chords! So, we take movement breaks often. I’ll ask the child to stand up and we’ll sing “Shake Your Sillies Out” or another fun movement song that lets them wiggle their fingers and move their hands. This helps refresh them to practice a few more one- or two-chord songs.

4) Favorite Song: We end the lesson with a favorite song of the child’s choice. It can be any song with any amount of chords. I play and sing, and they simply strum along (or just play the C chord). The song usually tends to be one from Frozen or Moana :)

There you have it! A simple lesson structure for teaching a child as young as three years old to play the ukulele.

Do you teach ukulele lessons to kids? What else do you incorporate into your lessons? I’d love to hear in the comments section below.


Image courtesy of tuelekza at