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

    Liss, Hampshire, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. [00:00:00 - 00:30:08]. This recording tapes three Liss schoolgirls, aged between 8 and 9, discussing skipping songs; singing games; marbles; jacks; unpopular children; best friends; and schoolboys participation in their games and songs [00:28:00 - 00:29:25]. One of the girls included on this recording has recently moved back to England from Virginia and another girl has lived in Gibraltar, therefore allowing Iona to establish a comparison between the songs sung by American and Spanish schoolchildren, and those sang by the children of Liss. This comparison is conducted throughout the recording and although the girl who has moved from Virginia initially claims that she cannot remember any games from America, she gradually suggests certain songs or games that she learnt in Virginia, many of which are also known to her classmates who grew up in Liss. Having lived in America, the girl also remarks upon the way in which she has been received by her classmates. She notes that she is often called an 'American Nitwit' or a 'Yankee'; however, she seems unhurt by these comments and laughs. Previously, when one of her classmates tells Iona: 'she is English though', the girl quickly replies that she 'still has a bit of the American accent' [00:02:57 - 00:03:57]. Further into the recording, an additional comparison is made between the songs sung by English schoolchildren and those sang by the Italian schoolgirls interviewed on the C898/44 recording. This comparison is brief, however, as the Liss schoolgirls are largely unfamiliar with these Italian games [00:23:30 - 00:23:48]. The remainder of the discussion centres upon skipping games. These include discussions and renditions of well-known songs including 'Bluebells, Cockle Shells' [00:00:18 - 00: 01:15]; 'Down to the Mississippi' [00:01:43 - 00:01:57]; 'I'm a Little Bumper Car' [00:02:00 - 00:02:25]; 'High Low Dolly Pepper' [00.05:32 - 00:05:55]; 'I Like Coffee, I Like Tea' [00:09:52 - 00:10:47]; 'Apple, Apple' [00:10:50 - 00:11:50]; 'Birthdays' [00:07:18 - 00:08:32]; a game the children call 'Colours' [00:06:27 - 00:07;17] and the game 'Higher and Higher' [00:09:03 - 00:09:44]. The children's singing and clapping games are also discussed and include recordings of 'Orange Balls' [00:20:40 - 00:21:40]; 'My Name Is' [00:24:09]; 'See, See My Playmate' [00:24:12 - 00:24:54]; 'A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea' [00:25:43 - 00:27:10]; 'Skip to my Lou' [00:27:43 - 00:28:00] and a variation of 'She'll be Coming Round the Mountain' ('She'll be Wearing Purple Bloomers') [ 00:29:34 - 00:29:54]. When discussing 'Orange Balls', the girls describe it as a 'funny' game as you must place a boy in the middle of the circle and decide who he loves. This leads to a brief debate concerning who 'Helen' loves and the different boys that they 'fancy'. The girls go on to discuss the boys' response to their songs, specifically, 'She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain' and 'Skip to my Lou'. They explain that the boys 'make noises' such as whistling which often embarrasses them and they pinch them when they sing 'Skip to my Lou' as they consider it a 'stupid' game [00:29:55]. One of the girls explains that variations of this song are often sung to embarrass other school children. For example, on one recent school trip, the children sang about one of their classmates: 'she'll be kissing Mr Smith when she comes' [00:30:03 - 00:30:30]. Traditional games such as Marbles are also discussed, a game which the children remark is always popular [00:19:20]. One of the children briefly remarks upon the introduction of Jacks into the playground, although noting that it has not yet gained much popularity [00:18:40]. Aside from discussing and performing playground games and songs, the children frequently digress, offering insights into playground culture. One conversation concerns unpopular children's involvement in playground games. They explain that one particular girl will often offer to hold the end of the skipping rope, even though the children know this is boring, just to ensure that she is included in the game. They note that this girl is very 'plain' but as she does not show-off the other children on her table are jealous of her. The girls, however, are keen to point out that they were told by the headmaster to try and include 'lonely boys and girls' in their games and this is something they try and do [00:12:04]. The girls also offer an insight into the issues surrounding friendship within the playground and note that although one of the girls claims she has a best friend, this particular girl irritates her as she too often acts like her 'bodyguard' [00:16:04 - 00:16:30]. This then leads to a discussion of one of the girl's tendencies to get into bad tempers. The girl remarks that she does not like being in such a mood as it makes her 'go all funny' [00:15:56]. The recording finishes with a conversation concerning the media and the playground. The girls note that while the boys often like 'women pop stars' they do not like them and one girl confidently asserts: 'I do not like any pop stars' [00:28:53].

  • Description

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

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item