My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean

This is one of my favorite beginning-of-year activities to do with my 3rd and 4th grade students. This is around the age where they start thinking they’re too cool to sing and dance with their teacher, but My Bonnie immediately changes that. I love the focus and the smiles that appear on the kids’ faces when we start rapidly sitting and standing, focusing on all of the words starting with “b.”

Suggested Grade Levels: 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade

Analysis:

Verses:
2. Last night as I lay on my pillow,
Last night as I lay on my bed,
Last night as I lay on my pillow,
I dreamed that my Bonnie was dead.

(Chorus: Bring back, bring back, etc.)

3. Oh, blow, ye winds, over the ocean,
And blow, ye winds, over the sea;
Oh, blow, ye winds, over the ocean,
And bring back my Bonnie to me.

(Chorus)

4. The winds have blown over the ocean,
The winds have blown over the sea,
The winds have blown over the ocean,
And brought back my Bonnie to me.

(Chorus)

History:
The first known printing of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean was in 1881. The origins are unclear, but it is speculated that the song refers to “Bonnie” Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who was exiled from France at the behest of the English in 1748 after one of the Anglo-French wars.

Game:
Have children begin seated on the floor or in a chair. The teacher sings My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean (it makes it easier for the kids to play) and the children must alternate between standing and sitting every time they hear the word “bonnie.” Practice this several times.

Play again, but change the key words to “bring” and “back.” When the children are ready, add “bonnie” again so they are standing/sitting on all of the words that begin with “b.” You can adapt this to moving other body parts, too. See how fast they can go!

Classroom Applications:
–Experiencing music in 3/4
–Singing leaps
–Great to demonstrate how ties work
–Dotted quarter notes
–Anacrusis
–Game enhances listening skills

Game activity demonstration

Resources:

–Kipperman-Sebring, B. (2018). Basics. University of Kentucky Orff-Schulwerk Institute, Lexington KY.

My bonnie lies over the ocean. (n.d.). All Nursery Rhymes. https://allnurseryrhymes.com/my-bonnie-lies-over-the-ocean/

–We Play Along. (2020, March 24). My bonnie lies over the ocean – activity song how to [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLwiM9R03-U

Who was bonnie Prince Charlie? (n.d.). A+E Networks UK. https://www.history.co.uk/biographies/bonnie-prince-charlie

–Yannucci, L. (n.d.). My bonnie lies over the ocean folk song. Mama Lisa’s World. https://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=4713

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