Cantaré, a group based in the Washington D.C. area, performs and records songs in Spanish for children. Led by vocalist Cecilia Esquivel, Cantaré offers a wonderful combination of accessible language and fabulous music to Spanish language learners. You can learn more about Cecilia Esquivel and Cantaré on their website.
The award-winning CD ¡Al agua pato! includes traditional childen’s songs, tongue twisters and original compositions. If you are a parent or teacher of children learning Spanish and are not familiar with Cantaré’s music, you will definitely want to read on and listen clips of their songs on CD Baby, Amazon, or iTunes.
All of Cantaré’s songs are exceptionally clear, so that children can hear, understand and accurately repeat the sounds of Spanish. This is in part due to the tempo, which is slow enough for kids to sing along, but always catchy enough to keep them engaged. The instrumentals on these songs are amazing, but they never interfere with the clarity of the lyrics. Rather, they shine in the introductions and bridges and otherwise are perfect support for the vocals.
¡Al agua pato! includes wonderful arrangements of some of my favorite children’s songs in Spanish such as Saco la manito, Al agua pato, Digo sí digo no, Los piecitos, and Debajo del botón. Many versions of these songs can be used with Spanish language learners, but Cantaré’s arrangements are particularly engaging and effective. (You can find links to posts on other versions of these songs at the end of this article.) As examples, I will point out a few features I believe make three of the songs especially strong language learning tools.
Saco la manito
– Cantaré’s version of this traditional song alternates mano and manito. Children learn to understand and use the diminutive quickly; this song is an excellent introduction.
– The repetition at the end of the song focuses kids on the actions abrir, cerrar and guardar. My preschoolers keep singing and doing the actions after the song ends.
– There is no doubt that the quality of the music in this arrangement and recording extends the age range the song appeals to. I believe it would be appropriate to use with students of any age. Spend a dollar, download the song and listen to the sax solo. You will understand what I am saying.
Digo sí, digo no
– This version does not use diminutives for the body parts, so beginner learners are exposed to the most standard form.
– The tempo is perfect for my youngest students; they can sing along and do the actions.
Debajo del botón
– The first verse is a fun arrangement of the traditional song. For very young students, you could certainly just teach that verse.
– The song repeats the last syllable of last word in each line. As a creative extension, in the following verses, this arrangement plays with the lyrics by switching and adding syllables. In addition to being a very fun song to sing, it is a great way to raise the awareness of syllable divisions.
Companion book for ¡Al agua pato!
Cantaré has published a companion book for the CD ¡Al Agua Pato! It contains lyrics, translations and music notation for all the songs. The book is available to order on the
In addition to ¡Al agua pato! – Latin American Music for Children, Cantaré has another CD for children: Baila Para Gozar – Latin American Music for Children. They also recorded the companion CD for the award-winning book Arrorró mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games by Lulu Delacre. These albums are available on CD and to download from cdbaby, Amazon and iTunes. Also, for those of you in the Washington D.C. area, you can find information about Cantaré programs and performances on their website.