Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

NEH Landmarks Workshop

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

"Follow the Drinking Gourd" (Part One)

Third Grade Music Class

Two 45-minute music class periods

Illinois State Board of Education Goals

Goal 25 " Language of the Arts"

Goal 27 " Understand the role of the arts in civilizations, past and present"

Introduction and Anticipatory Set

Ask one of the students if they would be willing to permit the teacher and her children to spend tonight in the student's home. The student must understand that the Scott AFB military police are looking for Mrs Noland, even though she has done nothing terribly wrong. The student also must help Mrs Noland find a place to stay in northern Illinois tomorrow night. How will this student respond?


Student music textbook with "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and accompanying CD

Poster and "Big Book" of constellations

Literature: The Drinking Gourd, by Monjo

The Underground Railroad, by Bial

Long-necked gourd


Explain the connection between the risk of harboring Mrs Noland, and the risks of harboring fugitive slaves. Review President Lincoln's actions in freeing the southern slaves.

In the reading circle on the carpet, pass around the long-necked gourd. Share the constellation pictures, and point out how the slaves identified the "little dipper" as the "drinking gourd." Using the US map, discuss the importance of following the "north star."

Share " The Drinking Gourd," by Monjo. How was the father in the story working with President Lincoln? Discuss the pros and cons of "rule-breaking."

Listen and learn the Underground Railroad song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd." Discuss the lyrics. Who do the students think "the old man" is? How can a "riverbank make a mighty good road?"

Conclusion (Higher level thinking)

Pay special attention to the musical instruments used in the recording. Identify the harmonica, banjo, and guitar. Why would these be good choices if you are traveling? Why was there no use of piano or brass?

As the children become more familiar with the melody and words, sing through the song.

The teacher will make real-time assessment with a yes/no student participation checklist.

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff tumblroff socialoff