Flea Fly Flo

Out of all of my students, I think kindergarten enjoys this song the most. My older kids already know that they can expect some weirdness from me, so this is basically the first big nonsensical jump for my kinderbabies! They love trying to get a grasp on the silly words and end up improvising some of their own.

This echo song is great fun on its own, but also nice to use when a class is lined up and waiting for their teacher to pick them up. We try to see how fast we can go before things completely fall apart!

Suggested Grade Levels: Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade

Analysis:

History:
There are several different trains of thought on the origins of this song. Azizi Powell, author of the blog Pancocojams, has a theory that Flea Fly Flo has its roots in the 1940 Latin jazz song El Cumbanchero. She highlights the repetition of the word “cumba” as being similar to the repetition of “cumalata” in the campfire song. From there, the song would have evolved several times before it came to be what we know today.

Another thought on the song’s origin is that the lyrics are a degeneration of the lyrics from the song Flea Fly Mosquito (see lyrics below). Wherever this song came from, it is a beloved classic for students, campers, and people of all ages.

Game:
While there is no game for this song, it is fun to get it as fast as possible. There are so many different versions out there that it will never become boring! Try patting you lap and clapping (||:pat clap, pat clap:||) throughout the entire song.

Classroom Applications:
–Experiencing syncopation
–Experiencing a minor mode
–Experiencing a “swing” feel
–Experimenting with tempo changes
–Vocal quality choices/shifts

Campy version
A different version that students may enjoy

Resources:

–CampoftheRisingSon. (2020, June 5). Flee, fly, flo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GiJOURSAt4

–Funk, M. (2020, January 11). Flea fly flo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jv3cmduTT0

–MaryLouBrown. (2008, September 18). Desi Arnaz – el cumbanchero (1946) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfXv_IditPg

–Powell, A. (2013, January 27). “The flea fly flow” (“cumala vista”) rhyme & songs that helped it grow. Pancocojams. http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/01/flea-fly-flow-cumala-vista-rhyme-songs.html

–Retired Scouter. (n.d.). Flea fly (mosquito). Retired Scouter. http://www.weknowcampfiresongs.com/detail-flea_fly_mosquito.html

–Thompson, B. (n.d.). Flea fly flo. Beth’s Notes. https://www.bethsnotesplus.com/2019/09/flea-fly-flo.html

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