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

    Birmingham, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. 00:00:00 - 00:32:05]. This recording, from Abbey Junior School, Birmingham, contains an interview with a group of schoolgirls aged eight to ten years old who perform an array of skipping songs; singing games; clapping songs and rhymes. The recording also contains a brief discussion of the game marbles and the various versions of this game that can be played on the children's playground. The recording begins with the girls performing a number of skipping songs. They sing: 'All in Together' [00:30:00 - 00:01:38]; 'Jelly on a Plate' [00:02:36 - 00:03:03]; 'I'm a Little Bumper Car' [00:03:05 - 00:03:16]; 'Not Last Night but the Night Before' [00:03:17 - 00:03:58]; 'Up the Mississippi' [00:05:00 - 00:05:35]; 'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John' [00:05:36 - 00:05:45]; 'I Know a Nikker Boy' [00:05:48 - 00:06:54]; 'Skip to m' Lou' [00:06:54 - 00:07:04]; 'High, Low, Medium, Slow, Dolly Pepper' [00:07:06 - 00:07:17]; 'Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear' [00:07:21 - 00:07:44] and a game that the children call 'Numbers' or 'Up and Down the Ladders'. To play this, two girls must skip together in the rope and skip around each other. The other players then sing: 'up and down the ladders, one by one, two by two, three by three, four by four' etc. The player who reaches the highest number then gets to go first, while the player with the lowest number must then hold the end of the rope [00:07:47 - 00:08:55]. The children explain to Iona that this is their favourite game as 'you get a long go on that' and 'you've really got to try to skip hard' [00:09:10 - 00:09:40]. There is a brief discussion of 'Chinese Elastic' or 'French Skipping' and the children perform a short rhyme that they sing when playing this game. They sing: 'England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, inside, outside, donkey's tails' [00:04:34 - 00:04:59]. The children perform a number of singing games for Iona. These are: 'Bluebells, Cockleshells' [00:15;16 - 00:16:08]; 'I Wrote a Letter to my Love' [00:29:26 - 00:30:30]; 'Shirley Temple' [00:20:30 - 00:22:56]; 'Molly Go Round the Moon' (although some of the other children sing 'Sally Go Round the Moon') [00:24:10 - 00:25:16]; 'In and Out the Scottish Bluebells' [00:30:32 - 00:31:35]; 'Cat's Got the Measles' [00:31:16 - 00:32:05] and 'Boys and Girls Go Out to Play' [00:18:48 - 00:20:30]. After performing the singing game 'I've Got a Daughter' the children explain to Iona that they learn these songs from other children on the streets around their homes. Often these children attend other schools. Once they have learnt them, they bring them with them into their own schools and 'spread' them around [00:16:09 - 00:18:38]. The clapping song 'Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Shop?' (a variation of Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?) is heard on the recording [00:23:05 - 00:24:10]. A short counting out rhyme is heard briefly at the start of the recording. The children sing: 'your shoes need cleaning, please change your foot'. This continues until one foot is left and this person is then 'it' [00:03:59 - 00:04:33]. The rhyme 'Tinker Tailor' is also performed alongside a variation of this rhyme that the children call 'Lady, Baby, Lady Green' [00:12:43 - 00:14:48]. Iona briefly discusses with the children the game of marbles. The children explain that they play two types of marbles on their playground. The first version simply requires one player to aim their marble at another and to 'click' with it. To play the second version, the children use the yellow circles that are painted on their playground. They place their marbles within this circle and then must attempt to knock each other's marbles out [00:10:16 - 00:12:15]. They briefly refer to different names that they have for their marbles. They explain that they have 'bullies' which are large steel marbles and 'gobbies' which are 'big ones' with 'colours in'.

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of Birmingham schoolchildren

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item