Spanish rhymes

Spanish rhymes, like eeny-meeny-miny-mo in English, are an easy way to add Spanish to your home or classroom. These are choosing rhymes, or counting-out rhymes, and are used to start games. They are fun for children to say, and teach them Spanish pronunciation and rhythm. There are many different rhymes like these and many variations of each one.

De tin marín, is the most common of these Spanish rhymes in Latin America, and my children used it in Mexico with their friends. The last line is about hitting, and is not something that I would choose to teach my children, but I understand that it is a traditional rhyme. In my classes, I use the others. The other rhymes also have the advantage of being shorter, and they do not use nonsense words. They work really well with Spanish-language learners.

For more choosing rhymes, see these posts on Piedra, papel o tijera (Rock, paper scissors) and Cinco ratoncitos (Five mice).

  • This is a simple, short rhyme. It uses the question that children ask each other so often: How old are you?

El cielo es azul. / The sky is blue.
¿Cuántos años tienes tú? / How old are you?

The person that you are pointing to when you say “tú” says how old she is. Then you count to that number. The person you are pointing to when you finish counting is “it”or is out.

  • This is another short rhyme that asks the same question.

Zapatito blanco, zapatito azul. / Little white shoe, little blue shoe.
Dime ¿cuántos años tienes tú? / Tell me, how old are you?

Again, the person you are pointing to when you say “tú” says how old she is. You count the number and the person you land on is out.

  • This rhyme is about a rotten apple.

Manzana, manzana  / Apple, apple
manzana podrida. / rotten apple.
Uno, dos, tres, salida. / One, two, three, out.

  • As I mentioned, I include this Spanish rhyme here because it is traditional and so common.  I do not teach it in my classes, but it is undoubtedly the most common choosing rhyme in Latin America. The first two lines are nonsense words.

De tin marín, de dos pingüé,
cúcara mácara, títere fue.
Yo no fui, fue Teté,   / It wasn’t I. It was Teté.
Pégale, pégale, que ella fue. / Hit her. Hit her. It was she.


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