A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 15, 2020
“Head, shoulders, knees and toes” (exercise song)

“Head(s), shoulders, knees and toes” is an exercise song that is common in primary schools. Children touch the parts of their bodies that are mentioned in the song. “Eyes and ears and mouth and nose” is another verse.
It’s not known who first composed the song. “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” was printed in The Children’s Friend for September 1912. “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” was printed in the Kinston (NC) Free Press on September 27, 1922. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” was printed in the Allentown (PA) Morning Call on June 1, 1929.
“The adult version of ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ is ‘glasses, wallet, keys and phone‘“ and “The adult version of ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ is now ‘Mask, wallet, keys and phone‘“ are associated sayings.
Wikipedia: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes   
“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is a children’s song. The song has been documented as early as the 1950s, and is often sung to the tune of “There Is a Tavern in the Town”.
The following lyrics are taken from the children’s music database of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, United Kingdom, etc.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes
And eyes and, ears and, mouth and nose
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes.

Google Books
September 1912, The Children’s Friend, pg. 484:
29. Rest Exercise: “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” (Tune: “Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush.” Suit the action to the words).
Heads, shoulders, knees and toes,
Knees and toes,
Knees and toes,
Heads, shoulders, knees and toes,
This is the way our practice goes.
27 September 1922, Kinston (NC) Free Press, “Society,” pg. 5, col. 5:
Mrs. Braxton, superintendent of the department, asked “Miss Graynelle” to play “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” for the “little folks” to sing and take their morning exercise.
29 April 1929, Montgomery (AL) Advertiser, “West Montgomery—Primary Program,” pg. 5, col. 4:
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” sung by 21 pupils was very unique; ...
1 June 1929, Allentown (PA) Morning Call, pg. 5, col. 1:
Singing game, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”; ...
7 February 1930, The Tribune-Republican (Greeley, CO), “Second Graders Put on Milliken Program,” pg. 9, col. 2:
Milliken, Feb. 7—Miss Nina Anderson’s second grade pupils had charge of the assembly program at Milliken schools Tuesday morning.
Their first number included the following exercises: “Head, shoulders, knees and toes,” ...
25 March 1932, The Garfield County News (Panguitch, UT), “Our High School Building,” pg. 1, col. 3:
... the gymnasium, which will be remembered for its “heads, shoulders, knees and toes,” ...
13 October 1932, Student “A” Life (Utah State Agricultural College, Logan, UT), “Huddle Hash” by Sam Lloyd, pg. 4, col. 4:
Guess we might as well change the school song to “Head, shoulders, knees and toes,” and have the gridiron gladiators chime in on “shoulders and knees” in the chorus.
Google Books
October 1933, The Journal of Health and Physical Education, pg. 53, col. 1:
20. Finger Play—(Lokrantz)
“Heads, shoulders., knees, and toes,
Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes.”
“In touching heads and shoulders keep elbows well back. If this exercise is done slowly, it will do more good than if it is done quickly. It may be played as a forward bending exercise, when the knees are kept stiff and the hamstrings are stretched. It may be done as a squatting exercise, when the back is kept straight.”
29 September 1955, Council Bluffs (IA) Nonpareil, pg. 3, col. 6 photo caption:
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” ... is an exercise-song that breaks up the study schedule a minute for third graders at Walnut Grove School.
13 November 1958, The Echo (Richardson, TX),  “School News: Wee Bonnie Bluebirds,” pg. 12, col. 4:
We ended the meeting with the “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” thank you to our hostesses, the Magic Ring, and our Blue Bird song.
7 June 1961, The News and Courier (Charleston, SC), “Cut A Fit Figure” by Joan Leonard Hitt, pg. 6-A, col. 2:
HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES…Remember that one—and all those other strenuous old fashioned “keep trim” exercises?
18 July 1961, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Troubadour Pleases Playground Audiences; Children like active songs future teacher provides” by Dorothy Witte Austin, pt. 2, pg. 6, col. 2:
A chill wind swept the playground so it was time for warming up exercises to the tuneful little number with lyrics consisting entirely of “Head, shoulders, knees and toes; eyes and ears and mouth and nose; head, shoulders, knees and toes.”
28 February 1965, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Crayons and Clowns and the Cat in the Hat” by Ridgely Hunt, Magazine, pg. 12, col. 4:
It’s 10:52, time for exercises. Once more they stand on the circumference of the circle while Mrs. Harper plays their exercise song and all sing together:
“Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes,
“Eyes and ears and mouth and nose.”

Google Books
202 Things to Do
Finger Fun Activities for Young Children at Home, Church, School
By Margaret M. Self
Glendale, CA: Regal Books
Pg. 178:
Head, shoulders, Knees, and toes,
Head, shoulders. Knees, and toes,
Head, shoulders, Knees, and toes,
We all stand up together
OCLC WorldCat record 
Heads shoulders knees and toes : and other action rhymes
Author: Frances Thatcher
Publisher: Ashland, OH : Landoll, Inc., ©1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Juvenile audience : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Head, shoulders, knees and toes ; and, Clap, wiggle, stretch and jump
Author: Brian Moses; Lisa Smith
Publisher: London : Franklin Watts, 2010.
Series: Tadpoles action rhymes.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Juvenile audience : English
Heads, shoulders, knees and toes - can you touch them all? Then learn how to clap, wiggle, stretch and jump!
Head Shoulders Knees & Toes (Sing It)
Jun 24, 2013
Super Simple Songs - Kids Songs
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes - Exercise Song For Kids
Apr 4, 2014
ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityExercise/Running/Health Clubs • Wednesday, January 15, 2020 • Permalink

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