Everyday Play with “Old MacDonald”

Everyday Play with “Old MacDonald”


Old favorite songs are, well, old favorites for a reason. At Farm Camp our mandolin players Gail and Madison Stuart  suggested we sing “Old MacDonald.” Since many children already know the words to this song, we enthusiastically sang “Old Mac Donald Had a Farm, E-I-E-I-0.” The fun began when children playfully added their own verses and sounds. Old McDonald

At first children suggested the usual farm animals. We did cows and pigs. And since we had been spending time with goats, the “maa, maas” here and everywhere sounded like the actual animal. Then camper Erin suggested that “on his farm he had some campers” so we sang her verse which children thought was hilarious!

And on his farm he had some campers. E-I-E-I-O.                

With an “I’m hungry for snack here” and “I’m hungry for snack there”

Here an “I’m hungry for a snack” there an “I’m hungry for a snack”

Everywhere an “I’m hungry for a snack.”

Old Mac Donald Had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

 And so on. The children continued with other creative suggestions.

Had a Woodshop There are many books that play off this familiar tune and song. My favorite is Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop by Lisa Shulman. Not only is MacDonald a woman, but she is a sheep. Instead of a farm she has her woodshop. Instead of animals, she has tools. Instead of animal sounds children can make the sounds of the variety of tools introduced in the book.

In any version of “Old Mac Donald” the famous and rousing chorus “E-I-E-I-O” offers a wonderful literacy opportunity. Goat At school when we sing this song and read this book, I point to the letters as children sing. It’s the perfect way to introduce several letters of the alphabet. Children quickly learn these and can read as they sing along. EIEIO

Okay, there is one problem with old favorite songs, and in particular, “Old Mac Donald.”  It gets stuck in your head. And that playful changing of the verses can start making you a little weird as you sing to yourself at the gas station and grocery store.

Goats “And in my car I add some gas…”

“And into the grocery cart I put some kale”

But children are the masters of silliness and will love making up the sound for gas going into a car or coming up with the perfect sound that a head of kale would make—not to mention creating their own verses.

So have some fun and sing old favorites with your child…(or to yourself!).



Sukie Jackson, Teacher