Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

First Grade - Lesson 5 - More Folk Songs

Understand that texts of folk music are handed down by tradition.

Learn to sing two folk songs.


Texts to "Down in the Valley" and "Billy Boy," printed below


Tell the children that many of the songs they may have learned in Kindergarten and earlier in First Grade, such as "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," "London Bridge," "Blow the Man Down," and "Down in the Valley" are what we call traditional or folk songs--a work song is also a particular kind of folk song. No one knows exactly who wrote either the words or the music for folk songs; rather, a person or more likely some people just began singing these songs when they were working or playing together or to celebrate a special event. Parents taught them to their children, who taught them to friends, and pretty soon more and more people knew these songs.

Finally, someone wrote down the words and also the tunes or melodies so the songs could not be forgotten. To this day no one knows exactly who wrote these songs.

Children should be aware that in most folk songs words vary in small ways--names, colloquialisms, etc. because they were passed along for so many years by oral tradition, which means they were not written down. It's a little like the game of "Telephone," where one or two words may get changed each time a conversation or story is repeated. Over time, these changes may grow into bigger changes, and pretty soon a song with the same name may have words that are quite different when it is sung in another part of the country or the world. If you, as teacher, know another version of either of the songs in today's lesson, sing that one and teach it to the children.

Billy Boy - (originally from England)

In order to add some variety to the song, have the children sing it as a duet, with the boys on one side and the girls on the other. The girls ask the questions, and the boys do the answering.

You might want to ask the children, after they have sung the words a few times, who they think the two characters in this song are (mother and son) and whether they think a mother and son might be talking like this.


Oh where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Oh where have you been, charming Billy?

I have been to seek a wife, She's the joy of my life,

She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Did she bid you "come in," Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Did she bid you "come in," charming Billy?

Yes, she bade me to come in, There's a dimple on her chin,

She's a young thing, and cannot leave her mother.


First Grade - Lesson 5 - More Folk Songs

Did she set for you a chair, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Did she set for you a chair, Tell me, Billy.

Yes, she set for me a chair, She has ringlets in her hair,

She's a young thing, And cannot leave her mother.

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Can she bake a cherry pie, Tell me, Billy.

She can bake a cherry pie, There's a twinkle in her eye.

She's a young thing, And cannot leave her mother.

Down in the Valley - American, Kentucky mountains

The melody of this folk song is very simple and easy for the children to learn. You will probably find that some of them know it by heart, with or without the words. It is an especially good song to do with simple chords as accompaniment on guitar or autoharp.

Down in the valley, the valley so low,

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.

Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow,

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.

Writing this letter, containing three lines,

Answer my question, will you be mine?

Will you be mine, dear, will you be mine?

Answer my question, will you be mine?

Roses love sunshine, violets love dew,

Angels in heaven, know I love you.

Know I love you, dear, know I love you,

Angels in heaven, know I love you.


First Grade - Lesson 6 - Music Connected with Narratives


Develop an understanding of the term classical music.

Listen to an orchestral piece that tells a story.


Recording of Paul Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (The performance of the piece in the Disney film Fantasia is another good source for listening to this music. Listening to the piece itself requires only 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the performance. See Lesson 4 for a recommended CD.)

Background for the Teacher

Paul Dukas was a French composer who lived from 1865 to 1935. He published no compositions during the last twenty-five years of his life and destroyed all of his unpublished works before he died, so we have very little of his music. The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which Dukas called a "Scherzo for Orchestra" was based on a poem by the German nineteenth-century poet, Goethe. The story is known to many people through Walt Disney's Fantasia, which closely follows Goethe's original poem.


Review with the children the meaning of the term folk song. Remind them of the various folk songs they have learned in school and ask if there are some they can name from singing at home. The most important points are that we don't know who wrote either the words or the melodies and that for years they were not written down.

When people talk about classical music, they mean music that was written by a particular person, whom we call the composer. The composer is a little bit like the author of a storybook that someone reads to you. At first, authors begin to hear and see the story inside their imaginations and then they write it down and have it published so all the rest of us can read it and share their stories. In the case of composers, they hear the music first, sometimes with words, sometimes with many, many different voices and instruments, and then they write it down so it can be sung and played for our enjoyment. Just the way we have the alphabet and words for writing stories, we also have a way of writing down music that is called notation. Just as people learn to read and write stories, they can also learn to read and write musical notation. And you can also sing and play musical instruments from that notation. Ask if anyone has learned to read music, and, if so, what instrument they play. Also ask if that person could tell the rest of the class something they have learned about musical notation.

Tell the children that they will be learning things about reading music as they go along this year. Say: A composer can tell us in musical notation how fast or slow, how high or low, how loud or soft, and whether the music should be sung or played on instruments.

Next, tell the children that today they are going to hear a piece of classical music written by a French composer who was born at about the time the Civil War ended in our country. Have the children tell you which country the composer lived in (France), find it on the map, and identify Europe as the continent.

Say: The name of this piece is The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Those are both very


First Grade - Lesson 6 - Music Connected with Narratives

specialized words whose meaning we need to know in order to hear the story the instruments in the orchestra will tell us. The word apprentice is a name for a person who is trying to learn how to do a particular kind of work. Usually, a person is an apprentice for several years and could be an apprentice to a stone mason, a plumber, a boat builder. In times before we had so many machines to work for us, there were many more people learning to work as apprentices--you might be an apprentice to a shoemaker, an engraver who made illustrations for books, or a jewelry maker, and in those times apprentices often lived with the family of the person who was the teacher and often was paid nothing or very little and worked very hard.

Ask: What about the word sorcerer? (a person who is able to cast spells, which could be words or phrases that have magical powers, a little bit like a witch) What would a sorcerer's apprentice be? (someone who wants to learn how to be a sorcerer, how to cast spells, how to enchant people or things)

There are no words to this piece, and it is played by different kinds of instruments in the orchestra. Review the families of instruments of the orchestra, and, if you have the file folder with instruments that you began collecting, look at the pictures you have collected.

You may want to read the story of the sorcerer's apprentice to the children, and there are two especially good recent versions besides the one some children may know from Fantasia.

They are The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Marianna Mayer (New York: Bantam, 1989) and another one of the same title by Nancy Willard (New York: Scholastic, 1993).

Basically, the story is about a young boy who is apprenticed to a sorcerer. One day, when his master is gone, the young apprentice instructs the magic broom to bring water. Faster and faster, the broom goes as the apprentice shouts at it. The water rises higher and higher in the room, but the apprentice does not know the magic words to make the broom stop working.

Tell the children you want them to listen carefully to the music with their eyes closed and comfortable in their seats or on the floor if you have a place for them to gather on a rug. Play the piece and ask when it is over which parts of the story they heard in the music. Encourage them to talk about how the instruments made them know what was happeniing.

Finally, encourage them to use musical terms in their responses, such as faster and slower, louder and softer. Ask whether anyone could guess which families of instruments were playing and when.