Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Them/Dem/Dry Bones…Singable Picture Books

Posted on: August 27, 2011

The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone…

Based on an African American spiritual, here’s a song that is educational, fun, and a little spooky all at the same time.

This song goes by a slew of names:  Dem Bones, Dry Bones, Them Bones or the Skeleton Song.  The lyrics and musical accompaniment are just about as varied as the title.  Interpretation and improvisation are totally appropriate when it comes to a song like this.

The toe bone, though, is always connected to the foot bone…

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Dem Bones

Traditional Tune
Traditional Words
Illustrated by Bob Barner

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Dem Bones
Traditional Words and Tune
Poster from Singlish.com

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Dry Bones

Traditional Spiritual Words and Tune
Illustrated by Kate Edmunds

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Them Bones
Traditional tune
Traditional words
Illustrated by Ian Dicks
(This books folds out to become a 4.5 foot tall skeleton.  Sing to the tune of the spiritual “Dem Bones”)

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Dry Bones,” in

From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs
Words and Music by Various Artists
Illustrated by Various Artists
Compiled by Amy H. Cohn
Published by Scholastic
ISBN 978-0590428682

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Dem Bones” poster from Singlish.com
http://www.singlish.com/vol1.html

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Wiki article about “Dem Bones”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dem_Bones

Sing Along with the lyrics and a midi sing-along from National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services:
http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/bones.htm

Connect to page for this song on SongsforTeaching.com (also features music clip)
http://www.songsforteaching.com/folk/dembones.php

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Two versions of the lyrics:

Version 1
DRY BONES

Ezekiel Cried, “dem Dry Bones!”
Ezekiel  Cried, “dem Dry Bones!”
ezekiel Cried, “dem Dry Bones!”
“oh, Hear The Word Of The Lord.”

The Foot Bone Connected To The Leg Bone,
The Leg Bone Connected To The Knee Bone,
The Knee Bone Connected To The Thigh Bone,
The Thigh Bone Connected To The Back Bone,
The Back Bone Connected To The Neck Bone,
The Neck Bone Connected To The Head Bone,
Oh, Hear The Word Of The Lord!

Dem Bones, Dem Bones Gonna Walk Aroun’
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Gonna Walk Aroun’
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Gonna Walk Aroun’
Oh, Hear The Word Of The Lord.

The Head Bone Connected To The Neck Bone,
The Neck Bone Connected To The Back Bone,
The Back Bone Connected To The Thigh Bone,
The Thigh Bone Connected To The Knee Bone,
The Knee Bone Connected To The Leg Bone,
The Leg Bone Connected To The Foot Bone,
Oh, Hear The Word Of The Lord!

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Version 2
DEM BONES

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

The hip bone’s connected to the back bone
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

The finger bone’s connected to the hand bone,
The hand bone’s connected to the arm bone,
The arm bone’s connected to the shoulder bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk around
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk around
Now shake dem skeleton bones!

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My favorite recorded instrumental version of “Dem Bones” is on,


Hymns and Things (CD)
By:  Besses O’ Th’ Barn Band
Conducted by Alex Evans and Roy Newsome
Dem Bones” is heard on Track 8

Preview the song, here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00118QJIC/ref=dm_dp_trk8?ie=UTF8&qid=1318945551&sr=8-1

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Some videos we like…

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Skeleton Dance
(AKA “Dem Bones”)

Singable Picture Book Video from SuperSimpleSongs.com
Super Simple Songs YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/supersimplesongs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e54m6XOpRgU

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Lennon Sisters Sing Dem Bones

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQu9WAnK3kQ

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Dem Bones (video for book)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnhJ3IkLQ7s

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Delta Rhythm Boys Sing “Dry Bones”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVoPG9HtYF8

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School House Rock take on “Them Bones”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns2dkT2sIug

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Skeleton Dance
(AKA “Dem Bones”)

Singable Picture Book Video from SuperSimpleSongs.com
Super Simple Songs YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/supersimplesongs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e54m6XOpRgU

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My son and I voted this the best vocals:  Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.  I think the video is a little creepy, but thinks it is “hilarious!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5m3IdGcx_g

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Use these websites to print, cut, and assemble (use paper fasciners) to create your own skeleton friend to sing-along with you:

BEN & JERRY’S DANCING PAPER SKELETON
Ben and Jerry’s site has a printable skeleton:
http://www.benjerry.com/fun/halloween/assets/images/skeleton.gif
Find the instructions, here:
http://www.benjerry.com/fun/halloween/crafts/

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Addendum, Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween!  Meet Seraphine the Skeletine:


Dry Bones (with Seraphine the Skeletine)
Traditional Words and Tune

I’m so looking forward to sharing a set of Halloween Singable Picture Books in my daughter’s second grade class today.  This inspired me to get going on a project that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks for singing “Dem Bones.”

We had an over abundance of Halloween skeleton decorations and I thought it might be cool to laminate one of them to use for singing the song.  I carefully took an extra paper skeleton apart and laminated the pieces.  Michael’s Craft Store had a terrific Martha Stewart brand screw hole puncher (since the hand held kind wouldn’t reach to the holes after the pieces of the skeleton were cut from the laminated sheets) to punch the holes and brass coated paper fasteners worked great for linking the pieces together.

And thus, Seraphine the Skeletine was born.

I’d originally thought of the male name for the skeleton, but darn-it, the fact is that men and boys are over-represented in almost every aspect of our culture (and not just American culture…this is true throughout the world now and the entire history of the world).  It’s a teeny-tiny thing, and this object IS a skeleton, but I think it’s important to put girls center stage whenever possible.

The pointer is a skeleton hand from a set of Halloween salad tongs from Target.

I’ve got a few Singable Picture Books with versions of the African American Spiritual “Dem Bones.”  From a good deal of research (and a delightfully fun and inspirational session singing through it with amazingly talented friend Howard Breitbart) I found that a slightly altered version the Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians arrangement (and thanks to dear friend Cindy to got to sing with Fred Waring when she was a girl for telling me all about him) worked best.  Another amazingly talented colleague Paul Raiman is creating a fabulous sing-along track for me to use when singing this song with Seraphine the Skeletine and with the Singable Picture Books.  I’ve got a preliminary version of the track for singing today and can’t wait to share it all!!

With the help of an incredible cast of friends, I can’t wait to share Dem Bones of Seraphine the Skeletine with Ms. Howard’s class of second graders today.  What fun it will be!

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Addendum, 9/21/2012

I’d originally written this article in August 2011, here’s a note on how I’m using this song in classes now.  By the way, the kids love the song and the skeleton and salad tong skeleton hand pointer works great!…

I asked for two volunteers to help me with Seraphine the Skeleteeeeeen.  One child volunteer holds the skeleton and the other friend uses the skeleton hand pointer to point to the bones that are all connected from the bottom where the toe bone is connected to the foot bone up to where the neck bone is connected to the head bone, and singing our way up the scale.  Then we work our way down the connected bones of the body from the head to the toe bone again, singing down the scale as well.  I love this song for so many reasons both biological and musical.

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Addendum, 11/5/2013

Seraphine the Skeleteen will like this addendum for the song DRY BONES,

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Dry Bones (with Seraphine the Skeletine)
Traditional Words and Tune

Now, don’t worry…there are no names attached, so I’m not spying NSA-style, but it is interesting to sometimes look at the WordPress Dashboard (a feature of the blog) that allows the writer to do things like edit posts and add links.  The Dashboard also gives information like blog statistics, detailing things like how many people visited the blog and how many clicks the blog got.  The statistics also lists out phrases that were typed into search engines which ultimately led the researcher to my blog.

I was looking at the list of search terms and became interested in the search criteria “the lyrics to “dry bones” using the latin names”

Curious about it myself,  I Googled “the lyrics to “dry bones” using the latin names” and found this terrific lesson plan:
http://eztales.com/content/Lesson_Plans/English_Lesson_Plans/Dry_Bones/DryBones_LP.pdf

This PDF offeres fun alternate lyrics with the Latin name for the bones!

Here’s another (this one has sheet music),
http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/fineart/Elementary/Songbook/Music/DryBones.aspx

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Related Articles

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HALLOWEEN

A list of spooky, fun, funny and evocative songs for our favorite October Holiday
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/halloween-singable-picture-books-ooooooooeeeeeeeee/

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EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/singable-picture-books-with-sneaky-educational-content/

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AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH

A list of Singable Picture Books that celebrate February is African American History Month
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/singable-picture-books-celebrating-african-american-history-month/

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