Over the River Giddy-Up

From jumbee.com

From jumbee.com

There is a misconception about the song “Over The River and Through the Woods.”  The song it is thought of as a Christmas tune when, if fact, it is meant to be for Thanksgiving.  It was written by Lydia Maria Child, originally written as a poem in 1884.  Her poem was written about her childhood memories at “Grandfather’s house,” but when the poem was recorded as a song over the years, the lyrics have been changed to Grandmother’s house on Christmas Day rather than Thanksgiving.  Here is the original poem:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
IF you do not know the melody, click HERE to listen to a darling rendition by Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters.
Because Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought we could turn to this old classic tune for some fun Top 10 Tuesday Thanksgiving music activities.  Today, I am turning to some great ideas from the good innovative music educators at Kindermusik.  Their site is great, and rather than create my own, I am turning to them as a resource today.  If you would like to see Kindermusik’s “Over the River” webpage, click HERE.
The Activities
These activities come straight from the Kindermusik site, and they are perfect for great Thanksgiving musical fun!
Baby (newborn to 2)

Hold your baby close and bounce in rhythm to the music, or pat the steady beat of the song on her back as you sing the song. Studies show a baby prefers the sound of her mother’s voice, and the sound of your voice paired with rhythm of the words – as you gently rock baby, or pat her on the back – helps your baby begin to identify the patterns of language.

Toddler (2 to 3 years)

The “giddy-up” tempo of this song makes it a great lap bounce for toddlers. Exaggerate the movement words, and make the weather and animal sounds mentioned in the lyrics to help your toddler better connect the vocabulary word to the physical movement.

Preschool (3 to 5 years)

Sing the song together and ask your preschooler to draw a picture of the story, and act it out: Pretend to ride a sled, ride through the wind, and ring bells!

Big Kids (5 to 7)

Engage your big kid’s active imagination and write your own lyrics about your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Use the “Over the River” melody with lyrics about your own journey to Grandma’s house. What do you see? What does the weather do? Do you go over a river? Write your own lyrics.


To add my own twist to the activities, I suggest getting out some great sleigh bells and adding all of the “sleigh” sounds along to the song.  While sleigh bells or jingle bells are not included in the Top 10 Tuesday list of instruments (click HERE to see the complete list), they are the perfect instrument for this song and for this time of the year.  Here is a picture of my favorite kind of sleigh bells.

Jingle Bells_Amazon

They are available for purchase through Amazon.com.  Click HERE to go to Amazon to check them out.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Top 10 Tuesday music activity.  Please check back every Tuesday for some more musical fun.  For previous Top 10 Tuesdays activities, click HERE to go to our archive.  Please check back every Tuesday and help spread the love of music on to your child and all the children in your life.  Until next week, play on!


One response »

  1. Pingback: Last Christmas, #853 | Tucson Songstress

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