Monday, June 28, 2010

Musical Monday......John the Rabbit, a traditional African-American folk song

Oh, John the rabbit  ( Yes, Ma’am)
Ya got a mighty bad habit  ( Yes, Ma’am)
Jumping in my garden  ( Yes Ma’am)

Eating all my cabbage  (Yes Ma’am)
My sweet potatoes  (Yes Ma’am)
My fresh tomatoes  ( Yes Ma’am)
And if I live  (Yes Ma’am)
To see next fall  (Yes, Ma’am)
I ain’t gonna have  (Yes Ma’am)
No garden at all  ( Yes Ma’am)

John the Rabbit is a traditional African-American folk song. It falls in the category of Call and Response songs. Like echo songs, call and response songs requires the song leader and the group to take turns singing. But unlike echo songs, the group/children's sung response is different from the leader/teacher's part of the song. 

 This is a good video of kids singing John the Rabbit although you'll note that they have added their own verse in the beginning. The second verse is more like the original, traditional song.
The girls (and the teacher) are singing the "call" and the little boy is singing the "response". They have also added movements which you are always free to do. It makes the song even more fun.

Activities for John the Rabbit
  1. Make a Song Rebus 
  2. Make a Salad using ingredients mentioned in the song or other vegetables normally found in a garden
  3. Find or draw pictures of the items in the song (rabbit, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, garden). You can also label the pictures and use them as flashcards.
  4. Have the kids make up additional lyrics to the song.
  5. Read classic rabbit stories: The Velveteen Rabbit, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit etc.
  6. Find out more about Rabbits
  7. Learn more rabbit songs. For example: 
    Little Peter Rabbit
    (to the tune of "Battle Hymn of Republic")
    Little Peter Rabbit had a
    fly upon his ear.
    Little Peter Rabbit had a
    fly upon his ear.
    Little Peter Rabbit had a
    fly upon his ear.
    And he flicked it till it flew away!

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