Five Little Ducks: Popular Lyrics for Family Sing-Alongs

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Full Lyrics of Five Little Ducks

Five little ducks went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only four little ducks came back.

Four little ducks went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only two little ducks came back.

Two little ducks went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only one little duck came back.

One little duck went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But none of the five little ducks came back.

Sad mother duck went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
The sad mother duck said, “Quack, quack, quack.”
And all of the five little ducks came back.

Five Little Ducks

As a hands-on daddy, I know firsthand how magical and memorable it is to share silly songs and nursery rhymes together as a family. The classic tune “Five Little Ducks” is one of those timeless preschool sing-alongs that captures the imagination and gets the wiggles out after a long day of kindergarten. With its catchy melody and repetitive verses, this song has been a favorite for generations of parents and children to quack along with.


Though short and simple in structure, “Five Little Ducks” tells an engaging story that creatively teaches counting, subtraction, and the relief of a happy ending. The tune originated as a popular folk song, but has since solidified its place among the pantheon of children’s music. Something about its bouncy rhythm, the duck quacks, and the Family Sing-Along mystery of where the ducks disappeared to resonates with little ones. In our household, it never fails to elicit smiles, giggles, and requests to “sing it again!” As a parent, I appreciate how these traditional nursery rhymes not only entertain my children, but also impart important early math concepts.

Origins and Meaning

While the exact origins of “Five Little Ducks” are uncertain, music historians trace the song back to a traditional British folk tune thought to have emerged sometime in the 20th century. The earliest published version appeared in books like Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose in the late 1800s. Since then, it has been recorded by children’s artists from Raffi to The Wiggles, cementing its place as a nursery rhyme favorite across generations.

The song tells the story of a mother duck watching as her little ducklings wander away one by one. She calls out to them with her signature “quack, quack, quack,” but only four, then three, then two ducks return. Finally, the last little duckling disappears, leaving the mother duck sad and alone. But just when it seems all hope is lost, she calls once more, and miraculously, all five ducks reappear, for a happy ending.

On the surface, it’s simply a fun, repetitive story to act out with hand motions and duck sounds. But the lyrics also promote early math concepts like counting, subtraction, and ordinal numbers (first, second, etc). As each duck disappears, children can count along as the flock gets smaller and smaller. When the ducks return, kids learn the satisfaction of counting back up to five. The repetition of the verses promotes memorization of numbers and patterns. For toddlers, holding up a different number of fingers for each round creates a multi-sensory learning experience.

Beyond math, the song also reflects universal themes like a parent’s love and relief at a child’s safe return. The mother duck’s distressed “quack” when her babies disappear depicts her worry over her missing ducklings. The song mirrors a child wandering off from mom and the happy homecoming when the child is found safe and sound. As a parent, I know how the mother duck feels when her babies go missing! The song reminds kids that mom will always be there calling for you to come home.

Fun Facts

  • One classic rendition from the 1940s turns the song into a round or “cumulative song,” with each verse building onto the next in a overlapping style popularized by “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
  • The tune has been used in numerous TV shows and movies over the years, including Forrest Gump, Making Mr. Right, and The Simpsons. Nothing like a familiar nursery rhyme to tug on those nostalgic heartstrings!
  • There are many different origami and paper crafts that use the “five little ducks” theme. They make for fun homemade toys to pair with singing the song! We like to let the kids color the ducks themselves for an afternoon of crafts and music.
  • Similar folk songs use the “Five Little…” format about other animals disappearing and reappearing, like “Five Little Monkeys” and “Five Little Speckled Frogs.” This repetition and variation helps promote early literacy skills.
  • Some versions change the storyline so only one little duck gets lost, or have a sad ending where the ducks never come back. But thankfully the traditional rendition brings all five ducklings home in the end!


In today’s digital world of endless electronic entertainment for kids, timeless tunes like “Five Little Ducks” remain a fun and screen-free way to bond as a family. The song is short enough to memorize, and the repetition means lots of opportunity for participation. As both a playful song to act out and a counting lesson disguised as fun, “Five Little Ducks” engages preschoolers’ minds and bodies. I love watching my little ones quack along while they unconsciously build early math skills.

Of course, nursery rhymes also create fond memories that will stay with our children into adulthood. I still remember rocking along to songs like this one with my daddy when I was a tiny tyke. Now watching my own kids light up as they quack the duck song or beg to sing it “one more time,” it fills my daddy heart with joy. I hope these silly sing-alongs imprint in their minds as happy snapshots of childhood they’ll carry forever.

What childhood songs bring back happy memories for you and your family? I’d love to hear your own favorite nursery rhymes to share with kids in the comments below! For the complete list of 50 fun preschool songs and lyrics, visit

Hey there! I'm Allen, but you can call me "The Corny Dad" from Canada. I have a wife and four kiddos. Yep, one's full grown, but they'll always be my babies. When I'm not doing something with my family or playing video games, I'm here, jotting down my bits of wisdom on this blog. From the fun stuff to the parenting chaos, I cover it all. Believe me, with the right attitude, parenting's a smoother ride and I'm here to help.

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