Sing and play Oats, Peas Beans
Ask children what kinds of work the people in the Appalachian mountains might have been busy with. (Farming, mining, cleaning....)
Discuss Appalachian Mountain life one hundred years ago.
Sometimes, the work was done with several families helping together. When families needed to complete bean-stringing, molasses stirring, quilting, and even house building, many families would join together to get the work done. While they were together, they entertained themselves with games, songs and tales.
Chant and play the counting out game William Tremble Toe
Children would play games that kept them busy while parents worked, such as William Trimmy Toes. In this game, each person puts in a finger, as the rhyme is said together.
This game is used for counting out someone to be "it" for group games, where someone needs to be the first leader or "it".
Sing and Play Did You Ever See a Lassie
The last person left in William Trimble Toe will be the first "it."
Back before cars, people had to get around by walking, riding horses, or riding in horse-drawn wagons. The wagons would carry the people and the food and quilts and supplies needed for the work. Sing Trot, Trot Little Pony.
Show students pictures or samples of quilts.
One everyone arrived, work and fun began. While some people were working outside, others were working inside the house. Quilt making was important for warmth and decoration of houses and took several people to make. If the singing and playing went on for a long time, the babies would have to put to sleep on the bed, and some children were layed in the wagon on top of quilts. Songs people would sing to pass the time while sitting down.
Listen or sing to I Bought Me a Cat, Frog Went-a-Courtin and Crawdad Man
Give each student pre-cut pieces that can be glued together to form quilt patterns, each student making a quilt square. Have each student glue their completed pattern on construction paper and write the pattern name. When all are finished, ask students to share their quilt square, and what they like about their patterns.
Smithsonian Global Sound recordings list samples of music you can hear. You will hear enough of the song to learn the melody and teach it to your students.
If you want to purchase the entire album, follow the links to make your purchase.
Song and Game Variants
Like many folk songs, the counting game William Tremble Toe appears as many different versions in folklore collections and published literature.
In Step it Down by Bessie Jones and Bess Lomax Hawes, it is called William, William Trembletoe and considered a house play.