Here are the Best Traditional Scottish Kids Songs

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fiona reid

Hi, my name is Fiona Reid and I’m a singer-songwriter from Scotland! I’m here to talk about some of my favourite traditional Scottish songs for kids.  

Scottish kids’ songs often go back generations, songs such as “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns are old classics loved by many.

This list will look into each songs’ unique story, as well as why I love them, and also an example of myself playing these songs on my acoustic guitar – Hope you like them!


Ally Bally Bee (Coulter’s Candy)

ally bally bee's coulters candy

The first song I want to tell you about is Ally Bally Bee, also known as Coulter’s Candy. The song was written in the 19th century by a weaver who lived in a city called Galashiels on the Borders of Scotland, Robert Coltart.

Originally it was a song written to be a jingle for an aniseed-flavoured candy that Coltart manufactured in Melrose and would then sell on to nearby towns in the Borders.

Though the recipe for the sweets is no longer known the song lives on as a popular children’s song in the country.

Within the lyrics, Ally Bally is described as sitting on their mothers’ knee is “greetin’ for a wee bawbee”. A bawbee is an old slang term which refers to a halfpenny coin.

The child was crying for a little “bawbee” so that it would also be able to buy some Coulter’s Candy.

The lyrics go on to describe various kids and adults who all want and love Coulter’s Candy, so it makes sense that it was used as an advertisement, it’s also very catchy!

This song brings back memories for me of when I was only young and in primary school (elementary school), it has a catchy little tune and is easy to remember, definitely a favourite!

Ally Bally Bee (Coulter’s Candy) Song Lyrics

Ally bally bally bally be
Sittin’ on yer mamy’s knee
Greetin’ for a wee baw bee
Tae buy some COULTER’S CANDY
Poor wee baim yer lookin’ awfull thin,
A’ yer jaw is aw drawn in
Could it be wi sookin’
Wi sooking the COULTER’S CANDY
I had a little nut tree
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nut meg
And a golden pear.
The Queen of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me
And all on account
Of my little nut tree
Ally bally bally bally be
Sittin’ on yer mamy’s knee
Greetin’ for a wee baw bee
Tae buy some COULTER’S CANDY


The Three Craws

three craws

The next song making it into the best Scottish kid’s songs, is The Three Craws.

The concept is simple, it follows 3 crows that are sitting on a wall on a cold and frosty morning and what they get up to.

The first crow was crying for his mother (greetin’ for his maw), the second fell and broke his jaw (poor crow!) and the third crow wasn’t able to caw at all.

It sounds kind of morbid when you begin to analyze the lyrics but is loved by kids young and old in Scotland.

I personally like is because of the way that it is very simple to sing not only through the lyrics all rhyming in some sort of way and being repetitive but also due to the melody being the same for each chorus and verse, making it easy for kids to keep up and get into it!

The Three Craws Song Lyrics

Three craws sat upon a wa’,
Sat upon a wa’, sat upon a wa’,
Three craws sat upon a wa’,
On a cauld and frosty mornin’.

The first craw was greetin’ for his maw,
Greetin’ for his maw, greetin’ for his maw,
The first craw was greetin’ for his maw,
On a cauld and frosty mornin’.

The second craw fell and broke his jaw,
Fell and broke his jaw, fell and broke his jaw,
The second craw fell and broke his jaw,
On a cauld and frosty mornin’.

The third craw, couldnae caw at a’,
Couldnae caw at a’, couldnae caw at a’,
The third craw, couldnae caw at a’,
On a cauld and frosty mornin’.

An that’s a’, absolutely a’,
Absolutely a’, absolutely a’,
An that’s a’, absolutely a’,
On a cauld and frosty mornin’.

Meaning of unusual words:
craws=crows
wa’=wall
cauld=cold
maw=mother


Skinny Malinky Long Legs

Skinny Malinky Long Legs is another classic that can’t go without a mention!

This song has not really got a big story like the other two I mentioned so far, it only has one short verse which goes “Skinny Malinky Long Legs, big banana feet, went to the pictures and couldnae find a seat, when the pictures started, Skinny Malinky farted, Skinny Malinky Long Legs big banana feet”.

This basically follows the story of a guy Skinny Malinky who has long legs and big feet, he goes to the cinema, which is often referred to as the “pictures” in Scotland, can’t find a seat and when the film starts, he farts. Not very deep as you can tell.

But from this song a popular euphemism emerged, now Scottish people will often refer to someone, usually male, who is tall and thin (especially if they also have big feet) as a “Skinny Malinky Long Legs. The song itself is a popular playground song that kids love to sing!

I like this song because it is funny, easy and just a simple little song that anyone can learn and sing along to in minutes. It is silly and makes kids giggle every time you sing it!

Skinny Malinky Long Legs Lyrics

Skinny Malinky
Long legs
On banana feet
Went to the pictures
And fell through the seat.
When the picture started
Skinny Malinky farted
Skinny Malinky
Long legs
On banana feet.


The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

loch lomond

Finally I wanted to dive a bit deeper into history, with a song called Loch Lomond, or “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”.

While not exclusively a children’s song, it is one that is sung in schools and choirs all over Scotland, and it has been around for many years.

It was originally published in the year 1841, though the composer is unknown. Loch Lomond is a freshwater lake near the Highlands of Scotland, “the bonnie banks” meaning the lovely lands near the Loch.

It is unclear exactly what the song is about, but some interpretations suggest that it is about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s retreat from England back to Scotland.

Allegedly one of his followers told his lover that “ye’ll tak the high road and I’ll tak the low road and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye”. He was about to be executed, saying that she would take the high road on earth, while he took the low road in the grave, and that he would be in Scotland before her.

The song has been rerecorded many times now by everyone from traditional Scottish bands to AC/DC!

I love this song because of the traditional feel, I used to sing this one in my old school choir and on Robert Burns day (a day to celebrate the famous songwriter and poet Robert Burns) for years to come, it holds many fond memories and has a lovely traditional Scottish tune to it as well.

The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond Lyrics

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonny braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond

For ye’ll take the high road
And I’ll take the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond

Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomon’
Where in purple hue the Hieland hills we view
An’ the moon comin’ out in the gloaming

The wee birdies sing and the wild flow’rs spring
And in sunshine the waters are sleepin’;
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring
Tho’ the waefu’ may cease frae their greetin’
(x2)

For ye’ll take the high road
And I’ll take the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond

For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond


And there we have it, some of the best Scottish children’s songs, hopefully you’ll give them a listen and like them as much as I do!  Let me know what you think in the comments as well!

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