Lesson Plan

Patriotic Music

Grade Level:
Second Grade-Third Grade
Colonial History, Language Arts, Music, Poetry, Revolutionary War, Social Studies
Group Size:
Up to 24
in the park
National/State Standards:
North Carolina Music Essential Standards: 2.CR.1.1
North Carolina Social Studies Essential Standards: 2.H.1.3
North Carolina ELA Common Core: RF 2.4; SL 2.1; SL 2.2; RI 2.1


Students will learn about our country's patriotic music in this music activity. At the picnic shelter, students can practice their fluency and analyze Yankee Doodle. Students can then sing the song chorally. After studying this song, discuss its use as a symbol for our country. What emotions does the song evoke? How does it represent our country?


Students will deliver a group oral presentation and read passages fluently with changes in tone, voice, timing, and expression using echo reading.


Everyone knows the song "Yankee Doodle," but no one knows who wrote it. Most musical historians agree that it was composed in the 1750s. In 1755, a British soldier sang the song while he was making fun of tired, dirty American soldiers who fought with the British against the French and Indians. The song makes fun of Americans for thinking that a feather was as attractive as a macaroni hairstyle. Twenty years later, American soldiers fighing in the Revolutionary War sang the song as they marched into battle against the British. Bands played it at sites of military victories, and the song became an unofficial national anthem.


Teachers may pick up copies of the Yankee Doodle lyrics at the Visitor Center.

Optional - Teachers may bring a tape recorder and recording of the song.


  1. Give each student a copy of the "Yankee Doodle" lyrics (pick up from the Visitor Center). Read the song aloud, modeling fluent reading. If possible, have students listend to a recording of the song after your reading.
  2. Read the poem as an echo reading with the class. You read two lines, and the students read them back to you. Continue until you have read the entire poem.
  3. Ask students to look for clues in the text that tell them how to read it (e.g. commas, exclamation marks, periods, or repetition).
  4. Place the students into groups of four. Each group will be responsible for presenting an echo reading to the class. Then, the class will vote on which group gave the most energetic and interesting performance. If you want to, you could assign specific roles to these groups. One group could act as the British, using the song to taunt the colonists. The other could say the song as colonists who adopted the song as their own. This give them real reasons for the tones and inflections they will use.


  • Discuss the meaning of the poem for comprehension and further analyze the lyrics. Ask what "went to town," "mind the music and the step," "with the girls be handy" mean. Find out who Captain Gooding was. Then, group students in pairs. Have them complete the activity sheet,
  • Divide the class into 4 groups. Assign the first, third, and fifth stanzas to three groups. Assign the refrain to the fourth group. Students will practice reading hte poem aloud and perform it for other classes. They can design props such as coonskin caps with a feather stuck in them, a uniform for Washington, or characters dressed in period clothing. You might even want to find a recipe for hasty pudding to try. Other historic patriotoc songs could be included in the presentation as well.


Discuss unfamiliar vocabulary encountered in the text: Some possible words are listed below. After identifying the difficult words, discuss them within the context of the text.
Yankee - a term for peple from New England
doodle - another word for fool
cap - a type of hat
macaroni - the tal hairstyle worn by fashionable people in London
dandy - a person who spends a lot of time making sure they look good
handy - clever
hasty pudding - a British porridge