Submitted by Gretchen Taylor, Illinois

Idea posted August 19, 2002

This is my list of Civil War songs I use with my 5ths during their "Our Musical Heritage" Unit.

Civil War song list (for 5th grade)
Presented in the following order:
SQUILT: Copland's "Gunfight" from Billy The Kid (used to kick off the unit)

1. Old Abe Lincoln

2. Lincoln & Liberty (Lincoln's campaign song)


3. Rally Round The Flag

4. Battle Hymn Of The Republic

5. John Brown's Body

6. When Johnny Comes Marching Home

SQUILT: Martin Gould's "American Portrait" (I think that's the title) based on "When Johnny..."


7. Dixie

8. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier

9. Goober Peas

SLAVERY SONGS (Code/Map songs primarily)

10. Swing Low Sweet Chariot

11. Follow The Drinking Gourd (I show the video of the book narrated along with the song first, then teach the song)

12. Wade In the Water

13. Go Down Moses

14. Oh Won't You Sit Down

15. Various other spirituals (we're in our African American unit by this point)

* With all of the code/map songs, we examined the texts and identified any hidden meanings through the code words used. They kept a list with meanings in their music folders as we went. The unit culminated in a "Runaway Slaves" enactment that I devised using the Drinking Gourd song. If you check the Mailing List archives under the song title, you can find it on the list (I posted it last year).

By the end of the unit, the kids could sing most of the songs by heart. I used a variety of sources for CD accompaniments, like Wee Sing America, several from my STM texts series (various grade levels), many of my own accompaniment arrangements (mostly the Lincoln songs), and a GREAT songbook called "America's All-Time Favorite Songs." A CD series from the Brentwood collection called "Gospel Bible/Action/Praise Songs" was absolutely wonderful for the slavery songs. I just printed out the words for the ones I wanted to use and then used the CDs for accompaniment purposes. The Drinking Gourd song I took from the Get America Singing...Again! Vol. 2, but there's a version in the STM text (not sure which grade level).

During the unit, I gave snippets of historical background info, some of which they wrote down in their folders. All in all it was a truly successful unit which I plan to make a regular part of my 5th grade curriculum.