Margaret Read MacDonald
Librarian for 30 years. Author of 60 books on folklore and
storytelling topics. Travels the world telling stories and
offering her “Playing with Story” workshops.
What role does music play in your work?
"My favorite folktales
are those that include singing refrains. Many folk cultures
take joy in pulling their audiences into a tale with song. My most fun performances are those with musician Richard Scholtz, who plays autoharp as I tell in a music & story
duet. And recently Nancy Stewart has jumped in with the same
kind of joyful musical counterpart when I am telling stories
at Island Books on Mercer Island. And of course the best
way to help audiences stay in a calmed down listening mode
is to get them on their feet between stories with a lively
action song! "
What is the one thing you want people to know about singing
with young children?
"Just DO it! You
don’t have to be “able to sing.” I sing totally off key but
the children certainly don’t mind. We just sing out and have
About the Song Delightful
action song with a twist. Excellent word play with the L
Personal Comment: I love
songs which have a bit of story attached. This one has a
delightfully wicked Arabella Miller who keeps putting
caterpillars on her family members. Let the children pretend
putting caterpillars on each other. Lots of squirming and yucking ensues.
2. Have You
Ever Been A’fishin’
About the Song: Another
of my favorite action story-songs. All about going fishing
and getting bitten on the seat of the pants by an alligator!
And ending with a hoochy koochy dance for everyone. What’s
not to love!
Personal Comment: This
provides a great get-up-and-stretch moment. Encourage
everyone to wave their arms in the air and wiggle those hips
in their final hoochy-koochy dances.
About the Song: This
gentle circle game has a soothing effect. We form a circle
holding hands and let the chosen bluebird fly in and out of
the windows we form with lifted arms. It is like the “Go in
and out the window” song of my childhood, but I love the
bluebird image even more.
Personal Comment: This
story always calms everyone down. And it is sweet to make a
little paper bluebird on a string to carry around afterward
and remember the moment.
4. The Old
About the Song Another
story song. This one is done in a circle with everyone
miming the actions as the story progresses. Lots of
opportunity for dramatic action in this one.
Personal Comment: This is
a favorite of mine . I do it a little different from Nancy’s
version. I end with “The old grey cat comes creeping.” And
then “The little mice all scamper!” It makes a rather wild
ending, but is fun. The only problem is getting the mice all
back in the circle again.
Fun to do with a small gang of grandkids.
5. The Little
About the Song: A wickedly stinky songlet.
Personal Comment: Such
fun to see a song from my childhood here. My father used to
sing this to me with such delight. It works best one on one,
I think, as it is sort of a joke-song.