Song in Spanish about a good wolf

There are two past tenses in Spanish, the preterite and the imperfect, and in order to use them correctly, Spanish language learners must hear and read lots and lots of narration in the past.  Many older students learn to list rules, but the use of these verb tenses is conceptual, and true facility depends on repeated exposure over considerable time.  One of the great advantages of being exposed to Spanish as a child is the opportunity to hear how these two tenses are used and to begin to grasp some of the underlying concepts.  Students who study Spanish in a traditional academic setting in high school, for four or five years, do not acquire any ability to use the past tenses with accuracy.  At the university level, we spend time on narration in the past to achieve some accuracy in writing, but students typically have to study abroad to begin to learn to use the two past tenses correctly when speaking.

Teachers and parents teaching Spanish to children should make every effort to incorporate material that allows children to hear and then correctly produce the imperfect and the preterite. This exposure will be extremely helpful as they continue their studies and begin to use Spanish to narrate in the past.  Children memorize and use the verb forms with songs, rhymes, plays, and games with set phrases.

This song, El lobito bueno, describes a world that a child used to dream about and all of the verbs are in the imperfect tense. One of the principle uses of the imperfect in Spanish is to describe in the past.  It expresses actions that are ongoing at a past time, rather than completed in the past (the preterite is used for completed past actions).

El lobito bueno is a poem by José Agustín Goytisolo, a poet from Spain.  It was set to music by Paco Ibañez.  Luis Pescetti and other artists also sing this song.

It is a sweet, pretty song, which is often sung as a lullaby.  It is a little sad, because it describes a time when a child dreamed of a good wolf, a beautiful witch, an honorable pirate.  In the upside down world she used to dream about, anything was possible.

Here are two versions of the song. The lyrics and a word-for-word translation follow the videos.  It is not a literary translation, with no attempt at rhythm or rhyme. It is provided here for meaning only, for those learning Spanish.

Érase una vez un lobito bueno / Once upon a time there was a good wolf
al que maltrataban todos los corderos / who all the lambs were mean to.

Érase una vez un lobito bueno / Once upon a time there was a good wolf
al que maltrataban todos los corderos / who all the lambs were mean to.

Y había también un príncipe malo, / And there was also a bad prince,
una bruja hermosa y un pirata honrado. /a beautiful witch and an honorable pirate.

Y había también un príncipe malo, / And there was also a bad prince,
una bruja hermosa y un pirata honrado. /a beautiful witch and an honorable pirate.

Todas estas cosas había una vez / There were all of these things once
cuando yo soñaba un mundo al revés. / when I used to dream about an upside down world.

Todas estas cosas había una vez / There were all of these things once
cuando yo soñaba un mundo al revés. / when I used to dream about an upside down world.

Printable Spanish book about building a snowman
Online activity teaches the parts of the face in Spanish