Ideas and activities linked to songs
Age range: 7-14
Curriculum links: English, History, Geography, Art and Design
Some of the songs in the project tell stories. Can they retell the story of one of the songs to a partner in 3 sentences and come up with other songs that that tell stories?
The Leaving of Liverpool
The Leaving of Liverpool is a wistful folk song tells the story of a sailor who is leaving his love and home town of Liverpool to sail for a new life in California.
Between 1839 and 1930 about 9 million people sailed from Liverpool in search of a new life elsewhere. Trace the sailor's journey in the song from Liverpool in England round Cape Horn to California in the USA on a map or globe. Discuss the journey he would take and why they think he is going? For further information you can use original letters and pictures of emigration from Liverpool in the nineteenth century on the Liverpool Museum website.
The song lyrics say he will send a letter when he is on the way home. Ask your pupils to write that letter imagining life on board ship, the people he has met and the adventures he has had. Did any of his fellow travellers have secrets they were running away from?
Can you think of other songs from your country or region about leaving home and moving to another country? Share them with your partner school.
Don't forget your old shipmate
This song contains many words associated with ships and sailing. What do your pupils think the following words mean? Quarter deck, sponger, loader, middle watch, stave, hulk, starboard, and flipper? Can they make a glossary of new words and phrases with definitions that they have encountered when learning the songs in the programme.
This song and Pastime with Good Company deal with the importance of friendship. Can you think of any other songs that deal with this important subject, or make up their own lyrics to a familiar tune.
The Three Pirates
Bring in a treasure chest or box containing items that could belong to the three pirates in the song. Ask the children to make up stories that tell why the pirates have these things in their chest. Invent interesting alliterative names for them, describe three outward characteristics, three inward characteristics and a secret that they share! Create drawing, paintings or comic strips about the adventures of the three Pirates as they explore London town and on their journey to see the King.
Perhaps organise a pirate picnic with treasure hunts and singing of songs for their parents.
This is a traditional ballad which tells the story of a young man who asks the listener to tell his former love to perform for him a series of impossible tasks. These include making him a shirt without a seam or needlework and ploughing the land with a lamb`s horn! Can your pupils write another verse about another seemingly impossible task in the same style and rhythm?
Pastime With Good Company
This song written by King Henry VIII, makes a great addition to any cross curricular learning about the Tudors. Henry VIII was King of England between 1509 and 1547 and the lyrics of the song tell us of Henry`s enjoyment of good company, hunting, singing and dancing.
Ask your pupils to find out more about the pastimes and leisure pursuits such as jousting that were popular during this period of history. Would these have been open to all classes of society? Can they found out how football and tennis were played in Tudor England and how they differ from the versions we play today?
Watch clips of Tudor dancing. Divide your class into small groups and encourage them to have a go at dances like these or invent their own dance to accompany the performance track of Pastime with Good Company. They could also learn the Divorced, Beheaded and Died song from the BBC Horrible Histories series to help them remember the names and fates of Henry's six wives!
Songs from Senegal
The song Son a Re is sung in the Sere language and celebrates the family unit. Can you think of any songs in your native language that celebrate families?
Family is very important in Senegalese culture where having a large extended family is thought to be fortunate and a sign of prosperity and wellbeing.
Ask your pupils to think about a member of their own family – how would they describe them to someone who has never met them before. Can they write down three ‘outside’ characteristics such as being tall or short or having curly or straight hair, then three ‘inside’ characteristics. Are they shy or funny? Do they have any particular quirks or sayings? Use these notes to portray the person to a partner and then produce a piece of creative writing or poem that paints a picture of this family member in words. Display their writing with photographs of the people described. Can others match the picture to the description?
The translation of the TuoNeno song into English is “Be kind to your neighbour because later they may need to look after you” (literally, become your parents).
Many stories or poems from a variety of cultures contain a moral or message. Read to your class examples from stories such as Aesop’s Fables or the poem Matilda by Hilaire Belloc. Can they work out what message the author is trying to put across and then try writing their own morality tales or poems?