Custom Song: Counting With Tally Marks

by Rachel on October 13, 2011

Tally Mark Song

I’ll tell you what…I’m getting quite a bit of mileage out of the “Banana Boat Song” around here lately. Over the summer, I recorded a fruit shakers version for one of my music therapy students, and today I have a custom song based on it.

This particular song is all about tally marks — what they are, and how to count with them. Rene, who wins the award for most custom songs ever purchased (thanks Rene!), gave me a list of key terms to include in the song, several of which are tally mark, vertical, diagonal, equals, sum, groups, and add. I managed to fit each of the terms into the lyrics, as well as some practice counting by fives.

Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Each little tally mark equals one
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Count by five and we get the sum

Counting with tally marks, adding up some numbers
4 vertical and 1 diagonal lines
Counting with tally marks, adding up some numbers
One set of tally marks equals five

One, two, three, four, vertical lines
One diagonal line makes five
One, two, three, four, vertical lines
One diagonal line makes five

Day, me say day-ay-ay-o
Each little tally mark equals one
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Count by five and we get the sum

Counting with tally marks, adding up some numbers
Now add up all the groups of five
Counting with tally marks, adding up some numbers
Here we go, sing this counting jive

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five
Thirty, thirty-five, add ‘em up.
Forty, forty-five, fifty, fifty-five
Sixty, sixty-five, add ‘em up.

Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Each little tally mark equals one
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Count by five and we get the sum


One of the things I love most about being a music therapist is never knowing what kind of subject matter I’ll be asked to address next. I’m always up for a good challenge! If you’re in need of a song for a specific topic, skill or concept, click here to learn more about my custom song package.



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