Opie collection of children's games & songs

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

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  • Type


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  • 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

    Four Marks, Hampshire, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. [00:00:00 - 00:34:32]. This recording, from Four Marks, Hampshire, 1971, contains an interview with a group of schoolgirls who discuss and perform singing games; skipping songs; counting out rhymes; ball game songs and a selection of short rhymes and limericks. The children describe to Iona Opie physical games that they play and the popularity of marbles on the playground. There is a brief reference to the reputation of pop songs on the playground and the schoolgirls use of them. The recording begins with the schoolgirls performing a selection of singing games. They perform the Brownie songs 'We Are the Red Men Tall and Quaint' [00:00:00 - 00:01:17]; 'From Out the Battered Elm Tree' [00:01:18 - 00:01:49]; 'Down by the Station' [00:03:38 - 00:04:46] and 'Cuckoo' [00:28:20 - 00:29:05]. They then go to sing a variation of 'On a Mountain Stands a Lady' that they call 'On Yonder Hill There Stands a Creature' [00:26:48 - 00:27:55]; 'Ring a Ring o'Roses' [00:29:06 - 00:29:25]; 'I Know a Girl Who Lived in Majorca' [00:30:01 - 00:30:10]; 'In and Out the Dusty Bluebells' [00:30:20 - 00:31:00]; 'Fair Rosie was a Lovely Girl' [00:31:25 - 00:31:55] and 'I Had a Wheelbarrow' [00:33:03 - 00:33:58]. Although they do not sing it, the children also discuss the singing game 'The Farmer's in His Den' [00:29:26 - 00:30:00]. The schoolgirls tell Iona that the boys often join in on this game however they can be 'horrible' and 'karate your hands'. One girl then remarks: 'I wish this was a girls' school, it would be much better'. The children perform two skipping songs. These are 'All in Together, Girls' [00:31:56 - 00:32:27] and a game called 'Birthdays' that they learnt at Brownies [00:32:28 - 00:32:57]. The girls can then be heard demonstrating a counting out rhyme. One girl sings: 'my mother says don't touch baby [pause]. Which one's baby? [pause] Don't touch baby.' [00:16:45 - 00:17:03]. Having performed this rhyme, the children then begin to suggest other rhymes that they know. One girl sings: 'The dog says bow-wow, the cow says moo-moo, the cat says me [she then bends her friend's finger back] “ow”!' [00:17:04 - 00:17:15]. They also explain the rhyme sung with the use of a daisy called 'He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not' [00:18:00 - 00:18:30]. From [00:22:44 - 00:26:45] the children continue to tell various rhymes and riddles that they know or have created themselves. Ball game rhymes are also heard on the recording. The children perform a rhyme that begins 'Ibble, Obble, Black, Bubble' [00:03:07 - 00:03:29] and the ball game 'Have a Cigarette, Sir' [00:06:07 - 00:06:21]. The recording contains a discussion of the different games that the children play that involve high physical content. The girls begin by describing a girl that they call 'Moon, Stars, Thunder Lightening'. The children explain that when they say 'lightening' they must do a handstand or headstand and try and hold this move as long as they can. They then perform this game and exclaim that: 'Gillian was the winner because she stayed up the longest' [00:01:50 - 00:02:53]. The children also demonstrate 'Sheep, Sheep, Come Home' [00:08:50 - 00:09:29] and discuss different games that they can play with flowers such as 'shooting their heads off' [00:14:22 - 00:16:28]. Whistling is also discussed and one schoolboy describes a method he uses to whistle using a hazelnut [00:21:11 - 00:22:00]. A game that the children call 'Drunken Old Babies' is mentioned. This is a game that they play on their dinnertime and involves the children attempting to drink as much water as they can [00:18:30 - 00:19:09]. Throughout the recording, the children refer to marbles and its popularity on the playground. The children begin by remarking that 'anyone can play' marbles, although one schoolboy maintains that it is 'mostly boys' [00:06:22 - 00:07:44]. A group of schoolboys then discuss what the 'luckiest' marbles are and one particular boy describes how he learnt to play this game from his grandfather. However, he mentions that he does not play regularly as few other boys play marbles [00:10:05 - 00:14:21]. The children also briefly discuss how they play 'Bows and Arrows' [00:19:15 - 00:21:00]. The recording concludes with a short interview with a schoolgirl who describes the popularity of pop songs on the playground. She tells Iona: 'our class are mad about pop songs […] we're always singing them'. However, not all the children learn these from the radio; instead they are learnt from a particular schoolgirl as 'she's always singing them' [00:33:59 - 00:34:32].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of Four Marks schoolchildren. Recording notes: Slight dropouts to tape extremities. Otherwise good throughout.

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