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♦ Baa, Baa, Black Sheep Lyrics
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Themes: onomatopoeic words, numbers
Age-range: infant-preschool, 4 – 8 years
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is an English nursery rhyme. The earliest surviving version dates from 1731. It is sung to a variant of the French melody “Ah ! Vous dirai-je maman“. The melody is also used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The Alphabet Song“.
Uncorroborated theories have been advanced to explain the meaning of the rhyme. In 1930, Katherine Elwes Thomas in The Real Personages of Mother Goose suggested the rhyme referred to resentment at the heavy taxation on wool. The rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was a complaint against the medieval English wool tax of 1275, which survived until the fifteenth century. After returning from the crusades in 1272, Edward I imposed new taxes on the wool trade in order to pay for his military ventures. One-third of the price of each bag, or sack sold, was for the king (the master); one-third to the monasteries, or church (the dame); and none to the poor shepherd (the little boy who cries down the lane).
This nursery rhyme is more difficult than it seems. You can teach it only when the children are familiar with a number of songs.
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Bêê, bêê, mouton noir
Bêê, bêê, mouton noir,
As-tu de la laine ?
Oui, monsieur, oui, monsieur,
Trois sacs pleins ;
Un pour le maître,
Et un pour la dame,
Et un pour le petit garçon
Qui vit dans la ruelle.
Culture and Vocabulary:
- farm animals (sheep) ;
- numbers in English (one, three) ;
- characters (master, dame, little boy) ;
- Have you any wool of the original version is the archaic English form. Today we would use D’you for Do you have.
- verbs forms: present simple;
- questions et affirmations with have;
- position of adjectives – before a noun in English.
- onomatopoeic words – “bêê, bêê” in French and “baa baa” in English;
- vowel sounds /i:/ of sheep, /a:/ of master, /eɪ/ of dame and lane, /æ/ of black, bag and have, /ʊ/ of wool and full, /ɪ/ of little and lives;
- consonant sounds /d/ of dog, dame and Do you;
- /θ/ of three;
- rising intonation on a question that does have a yes or no answer.
- onomatopoeic words activities;
- children talk about and retell the nursery rhyme with the help of the sequencing cards;
- rewrite the song using other adjectives, or other animal names, for example:
« Cluck, cluck, white hen, have you any eggs? Yes, sir, yes, sir, three nests full. »
« Mooh, mooh, brown cow, have you any milk? Yes, sir, yes, sir, three cups full. »
- discover the song “Old Mc Donald Had a Farm” and the books “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “Cock a Moo Moo“.
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” Sequencing Cards:
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♦ Baa Baa Black Sheep Sequencing Cards
Videos of the song “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” in English: