Pete Seeger and Jean Ritchie

In Young Child 3 we have been learning to play the dulcimers, listening to music of Appalachia and doing some Appalachian dancing. I know that there are Young Child 3 classes all over the world doing the same thing right now, but Appalachian music and culture has always been very interesting to me and we live in Appalachia so it is music that plays close to home and heart.

In Milk and Cookies we have been singing and playing the play party game “Shake Them Simmons”. A ‘simmon is a persimmon which is a fruit that grows on trees and you shake them simmons down to cook them up. According to our Teacher’s Guide:

“The folk tradition of play party songs was a social event for many small communities. The tune Shakin’ Shakin is an adaptation of many similar tunes from the American Folk heritage. The last phrase, “Shake them simmons down” is found in songs from different cultures such as Scotch-Irish communities of the Appalachian Mountains and African -American communities of the South. This phrase refers to shaking the persimmons out of the tree. Other versions refer to shaking a naughty possum who has decided to make a feast of the tree’s fruit, down from the tree. In either case, the different variants of the song are danced in a circle dance.”

This week in Our Time we are going to dance to Pete Seeger’s version of Shake Them Simmons. This made me wonder if there was a YouTube video of it. I couldn’t find one of this song, but I found one of my favorite songs, Jenny Jenkins, performed by Pete Seeger and Jean Ritchie. I had the opportunity to meet Jean many years ago at an OMEA convention and I highly recommend her book. “Singing Family of the Cumberlands” for anyone interested in Appalachian living, music and stories. There is a wonderful website called the Pete Seeger Appreciation Page if you want more songs or information about this American legend. You can learn more about Jean Ritchie at her homepage.

I leave you hear with Jenny Jenkins – enjoy the music!


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Filed under Classroom Reflections, Extension ideas for home, Fun Videos/Songs

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