She places folk songs very early in the chain of development toward a mature appreciation for and understanding of poetry. It’s the most reasonable thing in the world, she says, right after Mother Goose, to introduce the child to singing. But not just any songs, she explains:
“do not let us weaken him by giving him milk and water when he requires strong meat. It is ridiculous to see, as I have done, boys of ten at a dancing-class doing a teddy-bear dance or skipping, and many of the songs one finds in children's song-books are merely silly. I myself found my children took no pleasure in singing until, thanks to Mr. Cecil Sharp and Mr. Baring-Gould, I introduced them to a book of old English folk songs. The result was illuminating. Those songs immediately struck some responsive ancestral chord, and singing became a delight instead of a mere lesson; and now folk songs resound from morning till night.
The easy intervals, the narrow compass, the rhythm of words and music, but, above all, the thin thread of a story, the action, which characterizes most of these songs, breaking out now and then spasmodically into sheer rhythmic nonsense — a ' kicking up of the heels' — appeals to the elementary mind, as well as to the more cultivated.
In volume VI she says:
There is an unaccountable fascination in the rhythmic repetition of such nonsense as: Hi diddle unkum tarum tantum Through the town of Ramsey, Hi diddle unkum over the lea, Hi diddle unkum feedle! Whipsee diddle dee dandy dee. (youtube version, this is a fun one! Or perhaps you have seen/heard the Pinky and the Brain version?)
The number folk songs also make a special appeal, such as: This old man he played one, He played knick knack on my drum, each verse ending with this delightful nonsense: Knick, knack, paddy whack, give a dog a bone, This old man came rolling home….
Children really take to this music in most cases, given time and exposure. (And I must stress again that not liking folksongs is not inherently a male trait. That is a cultural assumption born of ignorance of the long history of folksongs, and it's failing our kids.)
$5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal, Feed Your Mind! This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.
$3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.