Monday, February 9, 2015

Follow the Drinking Gourd

I have seen some great posts about Black History Month activities, and I feel like I've done a terrible job the past two years incorporating it into my lessons. This year, however, my Kindergarten-3rd graders will be learning about the Underground Railroad and Follow the Drinking Gourd!

You know those days where a great lesson idea just pops into your head and you HAVE to find a great way to execute it? Well that was me this morning. I already knew I was going to be doing the song at some point this month and I dreamt about it last night!

My plan included several of the hooks mentioned in Dave Burgess' Teach Like a Pirate:

  1. The Mime Hook- students enter silently and follow me through the activity (this is not verbalized, it is just apparent as they enter the room).
  2. The Interior Design Hook- the lights are off and there are obstacles set up all around the classroom to climb over or crawl through.
  3. The Mozart Hook- I mean, duh, I'm a music teacher, if I wasn't using this hook I don't know why I'd be doing this job- the song Follow the Drinking Gourd is playing as they enter class and go through the obstacle course.
  4. The Kinesthetic Hook- Students are moving immediately as they enter the class, and not just walking around silently, they're climbing and crawling and using muscles they did not expect to use at the beginning of music class.
Looks like a normal room, but today it's a part of the Underground Railroad!

I also took to heart the message in this book that transitions will kill you. I made deliberate decisions about transitions- I did not give instructions, instead they followed my silent cue, we were at our carpet spots as the song ended, by the last note of the song I had already opened the book and was ready to read, as I read about the sun shining, I deliberately walked over and switched the lights on. Once the book was over, the kids had heard the song twice and could make connections from song to story and back again.

The students really had some great questions about the song and its connection to the Underground Railroad. We were also able to incorporate science into this social studies lesson by talking about constellations and connecting that to the "drinking gourd." The kids were fascinated to learn that the Big Dipper and the Drinking Gourd were the same thing- and some were even able to point it out before I explained it! I made a flashlight representation of it, and though it doesn't show up on our ceiling (it's more of a blob of light)- students really liked looking at it with the light shining through! This picture doesn't do it justice, but I figured I'd share nonetheless!

So far the first day of this lesson has worked well with all grade levels, and I even found a coloring sheet to use for the classes that are a little more squirrely! It has the lyrics on it, which is an extra plus while we're singing it together!

I hope that you all try this out- please let me know if you do and if it is a success in your school! This was a great way to #CelebrateMonday and add some history into the mix!
~Ms. Patrician


  1. I would love details on what you did to make your "obstacle course". I think this sounds like a fabulous idea.

  2. I would love details on what you did to make your "obstacle course". I think this sounds like a fabulous idea.