Brain breaks enable students to get ready to learn, improve concentration and attention, and re-focus kids. Taking brain breaks that combine movement and music helps kids- AND TEACHERS!- relax and de-stress. At our school, the kindergarteners start their Friday mornings with a little song and dance- wouldn’t it be great to mix in some music from around the world?
I needed some help to come up with the best international songs that were kid-appropriate, and with catchy tunes so I asked Kid World Citizen readers for their kids’ favorite global dance hits. You wouldn’t believe the incredible response! We had so much fun jamming to these energetic songs- next time your kids need a brain break, get them out of their chairs to wiggle to these international tunes. In many languages, with new instruments and rhythms, these cultural tunes may soon become classroom favorites! Here are 25 songs from around the world to “globalize” your brain breaks.
1. Colombian singer Shakira featuring South African Freshly Ground performing Waka Waka (This Time for Africa: Esto es Africa. The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Song. I love this song, I love Shakira, I love soccer, I love this video… (just for fun, click here for my kids’ version of this video!!! hahaha:).
2. Opening song of Rio in Portuguese. Whether you’ve seen the popular animated film or not, this samba-infused song will get you out of your seat!
3. Lollipop by Korean bands Big Bang and 2NE1. The bright colors, catchy refrain, and brilliant dancing led this video to 44 million views so far!?
4 Alison is a pop song sung by Jordy, a tiny French boy in the 1990s. Readers from both Europe and Latin American remember dancing to his song!
5. Stephanie Meade from InCulture Parent says her daughters love Moroccan singer Abdel Fatah El Greeny’s Ya Taxi Live عبدالفتاح الغريني يا تكسي. Watch them “drive the taxi!”
5. Mi Dulce Niña by the Mexican-American Kumbia Kings is sweet and energetic, and reminds me of my sweet girls.
6. I LOVE this song: listen and dance to Azonto from Ghananian singers Fuse ODG and Tiffany.
7. Moldovan pop group O-Zone sings Dragostea Din Tei and dances on an airplane wing!
8. South African Miriam Makeba sings “Pata, Pata.” Sung in Xhosa, there is an English line explaining: “Pata Pata is the name of a dance, we do down Johannesburg way, and everybody starts to move, as soon as Pata Pata starts to play.”
9. Most kids sing it “da-da americano” but they love the tune of Tu vuò fà l’americano, in this case the remix of the original Neapolitan language song by Italian singer Renato Carosone.
10. Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. I love the movie, and I love this song!
11. If you like Bollywood musicals, check out Yeh Ladka Hai Allah from the Indian movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. The colors, choreography, and music tell a story and entertain.
12. Dekole is a Haitian song by J.Perry, featring Shabba & Izolan that magically transports you to a tropical beach party. Kids and adults love the rhythm!
14. Brazilian Tic-Tic-Tac by Carrapicho is from the late 90’s, but still as catchy as ever. Watch the moves at the refrain and your kids will be out of their seats dancing.
15. Here’s a great medley from the Gypsy Kings. Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings brings me back to my semester in Spain, where I saw the legendary group live! I also love Djobi, Djoba and Volare… so many! The singers are Spanish Romani, and their music is rooted in Romani tradition, with added Spanish, French, Algerian, and Moroccan influences from their backgrounds and location.
16. This might not be what you think of as dance music, but this 2009 Eurovision winner has captured the attention of millions with his violin: Norwegian Alexander Rybak singing Fairytale.
17. Another Eurovision phenomena (2012), and another awesome song that completely surprises you! Give it a minute and you’ll be tapping your foot to Party For Everybody, by Russian singers “Buranovskiye Babushki.” My daughter: “Mommy look! The grandmas are dancing!” 🙂
18. Several people mentioned this next song: A R Rahman performs Maa Tujhe Salaam (Vande Mataram) with the gorgeous and striking images of India in the video. This smooth and patriotic Indian song was once voted the #2 song of all time in an international poll by the BBC world service (what was #1!?).
19. Dutch/Flemish group K3 keeps kids jumping and dancing all over Europe. Check out MamaSé (which is derived from a Cameroonian language for “dance.”)
20. Cuban Celia Cruz is always a favorite for salsa dancing! Here is her La Vida es un Carnaval.
21. The next song I think is a folktale sung as a rap? I hope someone who speaks French can tell us! J’entend le Loup le Renard et la Belette.
22. & 23. We got soooo many recommendations for Brazilian songs! Here’s a great soccer song: João Lucas & Marcelo’s Eu quero tchu, Eu quero tcha.
Another favorite of kids: Bebes Dança Kuduro Latino. Babies dancing!!! So cute!!
24. American Michael Franti & Spearhead and Jamaican Cherine Anderson get kids dancing and drumming as they sing Say Hey (I Love You). Lots of cute kids dancing in the video, which is filmed in Brazil.
25. If you’ve ever gone to a quinceañera or wedding in Mexico, you have probably heard and seen the very fast line dance: Payaso de Rodeo by Caballo Dorado.
Now it’s your chance! Tell me what great songs I’ve missed in the comments and we’ll do a “round 2” of global brain breaks:).