Welcome to the Intermediate Unit of Study

You have entered the web site for the Appalachian Songs and Singing Games intermediate lesson plan unit. This collection of lesson plans was created by Dr. Susan W. Mills, of Appalachian State University, based on the Leonard Ward Roberts Collection at Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky. Content in this web site is intended for use in public school music classrooms, and for social studies lessons in grades 3-5.

The lessons are planned to be taught in sequence. With the exception of the final lesson, which is a celebration of Appalachian Culture through the activities learned in the first four lessons, the other lessons can stand alone, and be taught singly. Some of the activities may include more complicated songs or actions than is appropriate for your students, so please adapt these lessons to suit the unique needs of your own students.

Funding for the Appalachian Songs and Singing Games project was provided by the Appalachian Music Fellowship of Berea College. The Fellowship is sponsored by the Ann Ray Charitable Trust.

National and State Standards in Music Education

The lesson plans contained in this unit are aligned with National Standards in Music Education, listed on the first page of each lesson plan. Additionally, they meet standards outlined in the Kentucky Core Content for Assessment in the Arts (primary) and in the North Carolina Standard course of study in Music for grades 3-5. Each lesson begins with identification of National standards and objectives written in language appropriate for National Standard-based or state-based lesson planning.

Message to Educators - Helpful Hints

  1. Read the lesson plans and click on the links to DLA or Smithsonian well in advance of teaching the lesson, if you will be using the recording when teaching the lesson. Some items may take several seconds or up to a minute to load fully.
  2. You will need an mp3 player (Quicktime, Realplayer or Windows Media) installed and working on your computer in order to fully access all the links. You can download one or more of these at no charge if you cannot access any of the sound recordings.
  3. You will need Adobe Reader to open written files that provide song text and music notation. You can download Adobe Reader at no charge if you cannot open the files.
  4. Omit steps, adapt procedures or borrow material from your own repertoire as you see fit in teaching with these lesson plans. Adherence to the lesson plans exactly as written will drive you nuts, if you have a better idea, or need to change the sequence of events. These plans are intended as a guide, and you are most welcome to use them according to your best judgment.

Please see comment below:

Most folk songs, singing games, tales and instrumental music from traditional cultures have variants and "cousins" floating around in the world of singing and playing. The collection of music and games used to compile the repertoire for the lessons in this project includes only one version of each item. Teachers should use their own discretion in selecting songs and games for their own respective classrooms, based on the unique needs of their own students. If there are other songs that you would like to substitute for those listed in a lesson plan, do not hesitate to make those substitutions. All of these items come from an oral tradition, in which the written versions don't carry much weight anyhow! If a song or game is listed, but the version indicated differs from one you prefer or know better, do not hesitate to make those substitutions as well. Folklore is a living, dynamic process of singing, playing and telling stories. The process of passing along this repertoire or one of it's cousins is more important than exact notation, phrasing or game rules.

Alan Lomax once said in response to searching for the pure American folk song, "there just ain't no such animal." (Lomax, 1960). In response to singing and sharing the songs of her family, Jean Ritchie (1952) said, "I wish that, when you sing these songs, you won't feel bound to sing every note as you see it in the book. It is almost impossible to capture a folk tune on a piece of paper, with all the little variations that the individual singer puts into the tune each time he sings it...you will be singing the song your way, which is what all true folk singers do."


Sincere thanks go to the many cultural informants who consented and contributed to the musical content, social context and philosophical foundations for the Appalachian Songs and Singing Games project. Jean Ritchie, Alice White, Al White, Donna Lamb, Irene Broyles, Deborah Denenfeld, and Penny Messenger are especially acknowledged for contributions through singing, remembering, or explaining repertoire and cultural perspective on Southern Appalachia in the early 20th century.

Thanks also to Harry Rice for his oversight of this project and the Appalachian Music Fellowship program; John Bondurant, for his sound archival engineering; and The Joe and Patty Tarter Family of Berea, Kentucky for their home hospitality during the research phase of the project.

The Hutchins Library Special Collections and Archives Department is under the directorship of Mr. Shannon Wilson. All of the Special Collections staff and the greater Hutchins Library faculty and staff were extremely supportive and enthusiastic throughout the research and writing of this web site.