Opie collection of children's games & songs

Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie (part 1 of 2)

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Ilkley and Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. [00:00:00 - 00:34:22]. This recording, from Ilkley and Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, 1975, contains discussions betwen Iona Opie and nine girls, aged eight and nine, from All Saint's First School. Throughout the recording the girls perform a variety of singing games, skipping and clapping songs, and ball game rhymes. The schoolgirls provide detailed explanations of how to play these games and explain the different actions and movements that accompany them. The girls begin with singing games and perform: 'The Big Ship Sails' [00:00:00 - 00:01:02]; 'The Hoky Koky' [00:01:50 - 00:04:24]; 'Poor Mary Sat a-Weeping' [00:04:25 - 00:05:56]; 'Oranges and Lemons' [00:05:57 - 00:06:40]; 'Here Comes Jackie on her Pony' [00:06:41 - 00:08:09]; 'Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May' [00:08:10 - 00:09:30]; 'Ring a Ring o'Roses' [00:09:31 - 00:09:48]; 'The Farmer's in his Den' [00:09:49 - 00:10:15]; 'Bluebells, Cockleshells' [00:10:16 - 00:10:52]; 'As I Went to Hoky, to Hoky Toky Fair' [00:16:48 - 00:18:29]; Eggy Peggy [00:18:30 - 00:19:12]; Cat's Go the Measles [00:25:44 - 00:27:08] and 'Keep the Sunny Side Up' [00:31:40 - 00:32:45]. Throughout these performances there is some discussion. For example, after the schoolgirls have performed 'As I Went to Hoky, to Hoky Toky Fair', Iona remarks: 'it's all a bit of a mystery, what it means' and asks the children if they know what the words mean. The children laugh and assert: 'no'. When playing the game 'Cat's Got the Measles' the children explain that if they land with their legs crossed then they must remove an item of clothing. One schoolgirl tells Iona Opie: 'sometimes it gets a bit out of hand!' The schoolgirls volunteer a number of skipping songs that they play on the playground. They sing: 'Alabalabuster King of Jews' [00:10:54 - 00:11:29]; 'I'm a Little Bumper Car' [00:11:30 - 00:11:57] and [00:21:22 - 00:21:25]; 'Cinderella, Dressed in Yellow' [00:21:25 - 00:21:43]; 'Colours' [00:22:04 - 00:22:24]; 'Cowboy Joe of Mexico' [00:22:25 - 00:22:42]; 'High, Low, Dolly, Pepper' [00:27:30 - 00:27:40]; 'I Like Coffee, I Like Tea' [00:27:41 - 00:28:16] and 'I Can Do the Can-Can' [00:30:50 - 00:31:40]. One of the schoolgirls tells Iona Opie that they call the children that turn the rope 'twinders'. A number of clapping songs can be heard throughout the recording: 'When Susie Was a Baby' [00:11:58 - 00:14:27] and [00:28:17 - 00:29:47]; 'I Went to a Baker's Shop' (a variation of 'I Went to a Chinese Restaurant'); 'My Father Went to War, War, War' [00:15:46 - 00:16:02]; 'My Mother Told Me' [00:16:03 - 00:16:22]; 'Under the Bram Bush' [00:16:23 - 00:16:46]; 'Who Stole the Bread From the Baker's Shop?' (also recorded by the Opies as 'Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?') and 'A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea' [00:32:50 - 00:34:22]. Towards the end of the recording the children and Iona Opie discuss the different ball games that the children play. The schoolgirls then demonstrate the different rhymes that they sing when playing games such as 'Two Ball'. They sing 'Mickey Mouse Had a House' [00:22:45 - 00:23:30] and explain the ballgames 'Sevensy' [00:23:31 - 00:25:05] and 'Donkey' [00:25:05 - 00:25:42].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of Ilkley and Barwick-in-Elmet schoolchildren. Recording notes: Relatively high-level recording, distorted throughout. Slight dropouts to tape extremities.

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item