Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Shall We Do with a Grumpy Sailor

A Music and Language Arts (and Social Studies) Lesson for Grades 1-4

Here's another activity I taught in my daughter's third grade. Her teacher had chosen a pirate theme for the year, so I thought What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor would be perfect. However, the teacher was not comfortable with the drunken part (and that's okay, I understand), so we changed it to grumpy. Then, it just so happened that they were learning about adjectives and, hey, grumpy is an adjective! So, we learned the song and dance and changed out the adjectives. Here's a recording of the game played with a group of students at Northwest Missouri State University:

Here's an outline:

Students will learn learn an authentic sea shanty and adapt it to explore adjectives.

Music (sea shanty, singing and dancing)
Language Arts (adjectives and creative writing)


  • Teach the song (see the 10 Ways to Repeat a Song or simply watch the video and figure it out)
  • Replace "Drunken" with other adjectives
  • Write new verses to answer the question "What shall we do . . .?"
  • Make up new ways to do the dance during the verse. I usually keep the same actions on the chorus "Way, hey, and up she rises." The children especially love the final action going over and under ("wringing the dishrag"). 
It's pretty simple, yet VERY effective musically, etc. . . .

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