So, we are all familiar with that popular hand game the kids play, right? “Ms. Susie had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell. Ms. Susie went to heaven, the steamboat went to…” and you know the rest. It was popular back when I was a student and also had so many inappropriate words. We have a solution to your problem! This is a lesson on folk music, creative writing, and Veterans Day.
You can begin by asking the students about the Ms. Susie song and see who is familiar with it. Follow up by telling them the earliest version of the song appears to have originated in the 1950s, with various iterations along the way. Here is a brief synopsis of the song’s origin. Being in its very nature a tune that has been passed around the schoolyard since the 1950s, and possibly earlier, “Ms. Susie had a Steamboat” is a folk song. Mention that many folk songs have been borrowed and changed over the years. For example, our own national anthem was based on a British folk tune. We have written a piggy back song to the tune of Ms. Susie that teaches about our government and Veterans Day. Click HERE to download the lyrics. Encourage the students to see if they can learn the song and combine it with the hand motions they know. If you are unfamiliar, here is the original:
Creative challenge: See if your students can create a song based on a folk tune they know. They can do this in groups or individually.