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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  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Dulwich, London, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. 00:00:00 - 00:31:13. Although the children taped on this recording attend Langbourne Primary School, the recording is conducted in one of the schoolgirl's houses and later at their neighbours' house. The recording begins with a discussion of French skipping and the elaborate games and rhymes that accompany this game. These include the game 'Banana Splits' [00:01:43 - 00:01:55]; 'Ins Out' [00:01:54- 00:02:02]; 'Double Diamonds' [00:02:01 - 00:02:02] and a game that one of the girls calls 'Catapult' [00:02:46 - 00:03:32]. A few of the girls then sing skipping rhymes such as 'Not Last Night but the Night Before' [00:03:45 - 00:04:11]; 'Green Gravel' [00:04:40 - 00:05:05]; 'Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear' [00:06:01 - 00:06:35]; 'Granny's In the Kitchen' [00:29:05 - 00:29:35]; 'I've Been to Harlem' [00:09:53 - 00:10:25] and 'I'm a Little Bumper Car' [00:20:30 - 00:30:20]. The children also demonstrate many of their counting out rhymes. One of the schoolgirls who has recently moved to Dulwich from Aberdeen chants the rhymes 'Ip-a-dip-a-dation my Operation' [00:16:58 - 00:17:16]; 'Each Peach Pear Plum' [00:17:20 - 00:17:38] and 'Ip Dip Sky Blue' [00:28:35 - 00:28:50]. The same girl also demonstrates a two-ball game called 'Winnie the Witch' [00:15:53 - 00:16:01]. Lastly, the children perform the two ring games 'I've Got a Daughter' [00:11:50 - 00:12:14] and 'Ring a Ring o'Roses' [00:12:26 - 00:13:04].  Aside from these displays, the interview touches upon many issues surrounding children's play and games. Iona is keen to establish whether the children consciously consider the words they are singing and their meaning. One of the girls responds that she rarely considers the meaning of these rhymes and alternatively concentrates upon knowing and learning the actions that accompany them [00:08:35 - 00:09:04]. The way in which children's games and songs are learnt and transmitted from child to child is also discussed. Iona notes that one of the girls learnt the rhyme 'Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear' from a girl on the street in Edinburgh when she was on holiday and remarks that this is the way that such games should be learnt [00:08:00 - 00:08:18]. The recording contains brief references to the international nature of children's play. At the end of the tape, two girls who recently moved from Japan to Dulwich are interviewed. They describe two highly imaginative games that they played in Tokyo and perform one rhyme. It is noted that one of the games the children describe is extremely similar to the English playground game 'Pus Pus' [00:17:56 - 00:21:11]. When demonstrating playground rhymes, the children perform a racist rhyme that Iona notes must be used to 'annoy the black boys' to which the girls reply 'and the black girls'. Although the children note the rhyme is 'rude' they laugh after singing it [00:28:00 - 00:28:18].

  • Description

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

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