Opie collection of children's games & songs

Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie

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  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 1. 00:00:00 - 00:16:56. This recording, from Nottingham in June 1977, includes a variety of singing games and brief references to clapping and skipping games. The principal focus of the recording is upon singing games, many of which are played in a ring formation or are acted out. These include, 'One Piece of Polly Anna' [00:00:20 - 00:02:15] which the children claim they learnt 'when we was in infants'; 'The Farmer's In His Den' [00:02:40 - 00:02:51]; 'The Big Ship Sails' [00:04:25 - 00:04:49] and 'I'm a Little Dutch Girl' [00:12:12 - 00:15:39]. The children also sing a song called 'Bluebird' that the Opies noted was probably of American origin and more often heard at Brownie meetings than on the playground. [00:02:51 - 00:04:34]. The children also sing a singing game called 'Sleeping Beauty' [00:05:00 - 00:08:28]. The children spend much time deciding, often squabbling, over who will be the princess and which individual is forced to be the prince. The song then re-enacts the story of Sleeping Beauty and ends with the princess receiving a kiss to wake her. The Opies note that this game is a direct translation of the German 'Dornröschen war ein schönes Kind', which came to England in the years prior to the First World War. The children are also enthusiastic to perform a song that they claim one of their classmates created, informing Iona that the song is 'ever so good'. They have called the song 'Underground, Overground', however, when they begin to sing it, it is clear that the song is in fact 'The Wombles' theme tune rather than a song created by their classmate [00:15:50 - 00:16:56]. Alongside the singing games, the children also perform clapping games. These are 'I Went into a Baker's Shop' which seems to be a variation of 'I Went to a Chinese Restaurant' [00:09:54 - 00:10:24] and the song 'Em Pom Pee' [00:11:24 - 00:11:49]. There is a brief discussion concerning what skipping songs the girls may know and there are brief references to 'Skip to my Lou' and 'When Susie Had a Baby' [00:09:33 - 00:09:45].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of Nottingham schoolchildren. Recording notes: Slight distortion to peaks. Otherwise good throughout.

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