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Pussycat Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

Writer: Maria Winder
Curriculum Focus: Music
Curriculum Level: 1
 Years 1-2
Duration: 5-6 weeks

Focus for the Unit: Musical questions and answers

The characters of nursery rhymes will come alive as students listen, sing, accompany themselves on ukulele, and act the parts of kings, queens, cats and mice. They will create and recreate simple rhymes and musical phrases by learning, sharing and reconstructing children's rhymes and songs from England, Tonga and Samoa. Digital audio-visual recordings will be used to enable students to work collaboratively with other schools in New Zealand to ask and answer questions.

Curriculum Links

Oral Language - Students will ask and answer questions in a variety of contexts e.g. online, with peers, with family and community members. They will develop vocabulary for discussing topics related to nursery rhymes.
Drama - Students will explore roles of characters in nursery rhymes.


Inquiry and Curiosity - Students will be encouraged to ask questions in appropriate ways in order to work collaboratively, including in e-learning environments.
Diversity - Students will sing simple songs from Tonga and Samoa and consider cultural links with English nursery rhymes.

Key Competencies

Participating and Contributing - Students will participate in individual, paired, group and online activities. They will be encouraged to contribute and share knowledge and ideas and to consider the ideas of others.
Relating to Others - Students will explore conventions for asking and answering questions politely. They will work collaboratively with their peers, families, students in other classes and different cultures to share and create rhymes and songs.
Using Language, Symbols and Texts - Students will listen to and read nursery rhymes, explore the rhythms in phrases and the use of rhyming words. They will use graphic notation to represent simple melodies.

Suggested Music Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:
Share music making with others, developing the ability to sing rhythmically and in tune (PK, CI)
Sing songs from different cultures and for a variety of purposes (PK, UC)
Play 2 chords on ukulele to accompany their singing (PK, CI)
Use their voices to create and recreate simple chants and melodies (PK, DI)

Achievement Objectives: Music Level 1

Understanding Music in Context (UC)
Explore and share ideas about music from a range of sound environments and recognise that music serves a variety of purposes and functions in their lives and in their communities.
Developing Practical Knowledge in Music (PK)
Explore how sound is made, as they listen and respond to the elements of music: beat, rhythm, pitch, tempo, dynamics, and tone colour.
Developing Ideas in Music (DI)
Explore and express sounds and musical ideas, drawing on personal experience, listening and imagination.
Explore ways to represent sound and musical ideas.
Communicating and Interpreting in Music (CI)
Share music making with others
Respond to live and recorded music.

  • Lyrics: Pussycat Pussycat
    "Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?"
    "I've been up to London to look at the Queen"
    "Pussycat, pussycat, what did you dare?"
    "I frightened a little mouse under her chair"
  • The origins of the nursery rhyme
    The origins of this rhyme go back to the history of 16th century Tudor England. One of the staff of Queen Elizabeth had an old cat, which tented to roam throughout one of her castles. On one occasion the cat went underneath the throne and the cat's tail brushed against the Queen's foot, startling her. But the queen had a sense of humour and declared that the cat may wander through the throne room on condition it kept the mice away.
  • Tongan Songs
    Ministry of Education (2003) 'Hiva, Ta'anga, mo e Himi 'I loto Nu'u Sila: Tongan Songs. Wellington: Learning Media. (Book and CD)
  • Samoan Songs
    Ministry of Education (2000) Fatuga F'asamoa I Aotearoa: Samoan Songs. Wellington: Learning Media (book and CD)
Summary of Tasks
  • Task 1 Who Am I? - Ice-breaker game
  • Task 2 Listen and respond to the digistore nursery rhyme recording of "Pussycat, Pussycat".
  • Task 3 Play ukulele to accompany a nursery rhyme
  • Task 4 Expert Groups - Queens, cats and mice (to build vocabulary)
  • Task 5 Drama Activity (to practise asking and answering questions)
  • Task 6 Musical questions and answers
  • Task 7 Use the voice to create simple chants and melodies
  • Task 8 Learn to sing the Tongan Song "Ki'i Pusi"
  • Task 9 Learn to sing the Samoan Song "Sau Pusi Sau"
  • Task 10 Share and exchange ideas with Juinor school children in another school e.g. Tongan or Samoan classroom
Suggested Learning Sequence

Integrating the Nursery Rhymes theme and making links with home.
Before starting this unit, source children's songs, stories, poems and nursery rhymes for the classroom library about cats and other household pets. E.g. Stories featuring Greedy Cat by Joy Cowley or Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd. Start a scrapbook of nursery rhymes about cats and other animals that students might know e.g. Pussycat Pussycat, Three Little Kittens, Three Blind Mice. Send an email or letter home to families asking them to share their favourite nursery rhymes with their children. Can the children learn the nursery rhyme to recite or sing at school? Students might be able to bring a video or audio recording from home, or invite members of their family to come into the classroom.
Ask parents for suggestions of songs, stories and rhymes on the same topic to add to the list. Include songs in languages other than English. Invite students to talk about their pets at morning news time. Include nursery rhymes and books about animals in shared reading and guided reading activities.

Task 1 Who Am I? - Ice-breaker game

Students will practise asking questions to find out if the picture on their back is of a queen, a king, a mouse or a cat, then join with others who have similar pictures to form a group and share what they know.

Preparation: Find pictures of cats, mice, kings and queens, through Google Images or cut pictures out from old magazines. Include pictures of kings and queens from England, New Zealand Māori and Tonga, if possible. Stick each picture onto blank paper and write the word on the reverse side, then laminate.

Activity: Demonstrate to the class how to play "Who Am I?"
Stick or pin a laminated picture to the back of each child with the picture showing. Make sure they do not see what it is. Each student tries to find out what's in the picture on their back by asking questions. The task can be made more tricky if you only ask questions that need a 'Yes' or 'No' answer. E.g. Do I have a tail? Do have pointy ears? Do I purr? Do I squeek? Do I where a crown? Do I live in a palace? Do I wear a special cloak or crown?
Once students have found out what they are they form a group and check the word on the reverse side of the card is the same e.g. 'cat'. Students then share with their group what they know about what is in their pictures. Do they know any songs, stories or rhymes about this topic?
Make an audio recording of any songs or rhymes that might be shared. Options for recording sound can be located on Software for Learning . Your selection will reflect your school's platform and the software that may be available.

Task 2 Listen and respond to the digistore nursery rhyme recording of "Pussycat, Pussycat".

Explain to students that the rhyme they are going to hear is about a cat who goes to visit Queen Elizabeth the First, who lived 400 years ago.
(It is the second rhyme on the Digistore recording).
Play the recording of Pussycat Pussycat from Digistore
Ask if anyone has heard the nursery rhyme before? Where did the Pussycat go? Why did the cat go there? What did the cat do?

Same rhyme, different tune.
Sometimes people learn the same nursery rhyme but to different tunes. Pussycat Pussycat is well known to many but the tune used in the Digistore recording is not the only known tune. Some people may be more familiar with the traditional Mother Goose Melody by J.W. Elliot.

Choral Reading
Show the printed rhyme (Word 212KB) with the picture of a cat chasing a mouse under the queen's chair and locate each of the characters in the picture (appendix).
Read and echo each phrase in the rhyme "Pussycat, Pussycat".
Highlight the questions in the rhyme and write them on the board.
Where have you been?
What did you dare?
The second question is unusual for the 21st Century. Today we would probably ask What did you do there? Think about how we put words together to ask a question. What are the 'W' words we can use? The questions and answers are always in the same tense e.g. "Where have you been...?" "I've (I have) been..." "What did you do there...?" "I did..."

Listen again to the Digistore recording of "Pussycat Pussycat" and sing along with Uncle Len.

Reflection -
How can you show that you are keeping in time with the beat? Can you nod your head or pat your finger on your knee in time to the beat as you listen to Pussycat Pussycat, or as we read it together or sing along with the recording? Do we all say or sing the words at the same time? Can we start together and stop together?
Singing in tune. Can you hear the sound of your voice going up and down as you sing the tune? Can you copy the tune that you hear? Are you singing the same tune as the person next to you?

Sound effects
Listen to all of the Nursery Rhymes on the Digistore recording and identify the sound effects that have been added, e.g. a violin is added for the cat's meow.
Explore some sound effects that could be used to enhance the singing or choral reading of the rhyme.
There are many digital recordings of sound effects available online.

Task 3 Play ukulele to accompany a nursery rhyme

Learn to play 2 chords (F, C) on the ukulele to accompany a nursery rhyme
(See the printed lyrics and chords below)
Children can successfully play ukulele from the age of 4 or 5. Some starter activities have been suggested below but the first thing to do is make sure your ukuleles are tuned in the key of C (Strings tuned to G C E A). There are several internet sites that can help you tune up e.g. Start with tuned ukuleles .. An electric tuner is a good investment because it allows you to tune the strings accurately, even if you personally can't hear the if the strings are in tune.

The Digistore recording of Pussycat Pussycat is in the Key of F and can be accompanied using the chords of F and C

Sing the following song to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Head, tuners, strings and frets string and frets (repeat).
And neck and sound hole and body and bridge.
Head, tuners, strings and frets, strings and frets.

Echo these words pointing to the ukulele parts as the leader says or sings.
This is the body
Here is the bridge
This is the sound hole
Here is the neck
These are the frets
Here are the strings ("G C E A" "My Dog Has Fleas")
This is the nut
Here are the tuners - DON'T TOUCH THE TUNERS!

N.B. "My Dog Has Fleas" is sung to the tune "G C E A", the open strings of the ukulele.

Learn a simple strum
Start by waving your hand to say hello in time to a steady beat
Count 1 2 3 4 hello hello hello hello
Now do the same but wave hello to your ukulele without touching the strings
Count 1 2 3 4 hello hello hello hello
Then let your index finger strum the strings on the downwards movement of each wave
Count 1 2 3 4 down up down up down up down

Introduce the finger position for a C chord


The following songs can be sung with a one chord accompaniment Row row row your boat Ten in the bed Three blind mice Three blind jellyfish sitting on a rock Frere Jacques / Are You Sleeping? Use the same tunes and write new words to create your own song.


Practise changing chords from F to C. If this is too hard for some students, divide the class into 2 groups, so one half plays F and the other plays C.

Play the following sequence of chords with one strum on each. You might say 'pussycat' with each strum to encourage children to stay in time.
Count the students in slowly "one, two, pussycat, pussycat"


And again


This chord sequence is the accompaniment for Pussycat Pussycat as recorded on Digistor ( 49 KB) .

Sing the nursery rhyme with the chords.

ReflectionWhat are we learning to do when we play the ukulele? Do we strum the strings in time with the beat and with each other? Can we strum with one finger? Do we have relaxed wrists as we strum? Can we put our fingers in the right place to make the chord F and the chord C. Show someone else in the class how to play an F and a C. Can you play together, counting and strumming 1 2 3 4? Can you count and play at the same time? How are you holding the ukulele? Is the body of the ukulele against your tummy and the head of the ukulele pointing up at a 45 degree angle?

Task 4 Expert Groups - Queens, cats and mice (to build vocabulary)

Talk about what each character (cat, mouse and queen) would be like. Ask the class to describe some occasions when they've seen a cat chasing a mouse. Talk to the person next to you and share some ideas about what cats and mice like to do. Ask the class what they know about the current Queen Elizabeth who lives in London, England. Do they know of any other kings or queens? What do they think life for the queen in London would be like (e.g palace, servants, family, pets, media, charity).

Divide the class into 3 groups (queens, cats and mice). Share ideas about what the characters are like e.g. where they live, what they look like, what they like to do and how they behave. The teacher and students could start a class vocabulary chart about queens, cats and mice while listening to the childrens' ideas.

Task 5 Drama Activity (to practise asking and answering questions)

Ask 3 students to play the part of the queen, the cat and the mouse as the rhyme is recited again. The teacher could play the part of the interviewer and the rest of the class could respond with the answers.
What would each of the characters be doing?
e.g. Queen sits on her throne looking regal
Cat chases the mouse under the queen's chair
Hot seating - ask the 3 students who have played the role of queen, cat and mouse some questions about what they were doing and what they were thinking and feeling e.g. Queen, what did you think when you first saw the mouse? What was it like when the cat and mouse ran under your chair? Mouse, what happened when you saw the cat? Why did you go to the queen's chair? Cat, why did you want to look at the queen? What happened when you saw the mouse?
Encourage the students to ask their own questions.

Reflection Oral language and participating and contributing
Are students able to assume roles of characters from the nursery rhyme?
What vocabulary are they using as they answer questions? Can they answer imaginatively?
Do they ask and answer in a monotone or vary their intonation?

Task 6 Musical questions and answers

Can the students remember the melody (tune) for "Pussycat, Pussycat"?
Divide the class into 2 groups, one to sing the questions and the other to sing the answers. Pat the beat on your body as you take turns to chant the questions and answers. Swap roles so the other group sings the questions.
Q: "Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?"
A: "I've been up to London to look at the Queen"
Notice that in the melody of each question the pitch goes up at the end of the phrase and the pitch of the answer goes down at the end.
Draw the pitch movement of the melody for each question and answer with your finger in the air as you listen to the Digistore recording. Write the pitch movement of each question and answer as a line on the white board.

Task 7 Use the voice to create simple chants and melodies

Simple melodies can be created using just 2 notes. The notes G-E are pitched well for young children's voices. The pitch interval of the notes G-E is a Minor 3rd and is commonly used in playground chants. So-me Stories for Juniors by New Zealander Stuart Manins are a resource designed to help children listen, sing and write stories of their own. In the stories, children are encouraged to sing So-me's name to the tune of 2 notes with a minor 3rd interval.

Students are particularly interested in composing their own songs. If they are able to say or write short phrases, e.g. questions and answers, it is only another short step to add a simple tune. Try adding a tune to some everyday classroom chants e.g. Who is listening? I am listening.

Singing the roll Listen to track 8 in the Ministry of Education resource "Into Music 1" The teacher uses 2 notes with a pitch interval of a minor 3rd (F-D on this recording) to sing a greeting to each of the children individually. The children each respond by singing a greeting to their teacher and matching the pitch of the same 2 notes.

Beanbag Game One child in the group has the beanbag. At the end of each chant, the beanbag is thrown to someone else. Use the same so-me interval. The melody of each answer, echoes the question. Group: Beanbag, beanbag, who's got the beanbag? G-E-G-E-G-E-G-E Individual: I've got the beanbag. G-E-G-E Group: _______'s got the beanbag. G-E-G-E

Reflection - Developing the ability to sing in tune As you sing the beanbag game, or sing the roll, are the children able to match the same 2 notes when they sing by themselves? Show the 2 notes using hand signals to demonstrate the high and low pitch. Can they match at least one of the notes? Do they sing a high note and a low note as you move your hand up and down?

Task 8 Learn to sing the Tongan Song Ki'i Pusi

Ki'i Pusiis recorded on the Tongan Songs CD. The first verse is very similar to the nursery rhyme Pussycat Pussycat.

Verse 1
Ki'i Pusi, ki'i pusi
Na'a ke 'I fe ai pe he aho ni?
Na'a ku 'alu ki Lonitoni
'O 'a 'ahi ki he Kuini.

This song can be translated as:
Little kitten,
Where have you been today?
I went to London
To visit the Queen.

 Little chick,
Where were you at noon?
I went to Rotorua
To visit Taniwha

 Mother duck,
Where were you last night?
I went to Fangatongo
To visit Mangaono

Fangatongo is the King's palace in Vava'u.
Mangaono is a place near by where six roads meet.

Play the recording of the song and enjoy the sounds of the cat, hen and duck. Ask the children what else they noticed about the music. (e.g. language isn't English, instrumental lead into each verse, mens' and womens' voices singing in harmony, guitar and ukulele accompaniment)
Read the English translation of the song.
Where did each of the animals visit?
In which country is each place located?
When did they visit?
Who did they visit?

In verse 2, a chick visits Taniwha in Rotorua.
In verse 3, a duck visits Managano at Fangatongo (the King's palace in Vava'u, Tonga).

Listen to the song again, joining in to make the sounds of the cat, hen and duck.

Ask who has been to Rotorua or to Tonga and talk about what they did there.

Enlarge the words of the song from page 21 of the Tongan Songs book to make an A3 word chart. Show the students the Ki'i Pusi (Word 124KB) word chart and hum along with the tune then start again and sing (or play CD) and echo each line of the first verse. Identify the words in Tongan that might mean, 'pussycat', 'London' and 'Queen'.

Listen to and echo each line of verse two. Identify the Tongan words for 'chick', 'Rotorua' and 'Taniwha'.

Task 9 Learn to sing "Sau Pusi Sau", a Samoan Song about cats and other animals

Sau Pusi Sau (Word 71KB) is recorded on the Samoan Songs CD in the key of G
Listen to the recording. Ask students what they noticed about the music What did you notice about the song? Did you hear any instruments? How do you think the guitar was being played? (The guitarist plays a repeated picking pattern, rather than strumming the chords) Which animal sounds did you hear? What do you think the song might be about?

The Samoan language has many similarities to Tongan and Māori, particularly the pure vowel sounds. Find out if any of the students are Samoan or have been to Samoa and if they know any other Samoan songs e.g. many children are familiar with the song "Le 'Aute" from Kiwi Kidsongs. It is important for the children to learn to sing the words with understanding, correct pronunciation and appropriate expression.

The English translation is
Come, kitty, come
Come drink your milk.
There's no need to sulk.
Come kitty come

Come, doggy, come,
Come eat the bone.
You look all alone.
Come, doggy, come.

Come, ratty, come,
Come eat your cheese.
Don't be cheeky,
Come eat your cheese

In a Samoan village you might hear children calling out "Sau, sau" when they are feeding their cats. The children could maybe pretend to be cats, dogs and rats and act out their parts as if they are being fed.

The melody in the song is very simple and quite repetitive, with a limited range of 5 notes. Sing each line to 'la' and ask students to imitate what they hear. Alternatively, play the recording and pause the CD after each line and imitate the tune by singing 'la' together. Are the students able to repeat the tune at the correct pitch? Can they show the pitch movement with a finger moving up and down as they sing?
Learn to sing each verse in Samoan. You (the teacher) might like to learn to accompany the song on ukulele.

Task 10 Share and exchange ideas with Junior school children in another classroom e.g. a Tongan or Samoan classroom

Contact a junior class in another school e.g. in Samoa, in Tonga or a junior Tongan or Samoan language immersion class in Auckland. E.g. Search on google to find the contact details for schools with Samoan or Tongan bi-lingual classes e.g. "Samoan pre-school in Auckland", "Tongan bi-lingual class in Auckland school"
What questions would the children like to ask the other class?
Make a list of the songs and rhymes your class has been learning and ask if the other class know any of the same songs.
Record your class singing Sau Pusi Sau, or Ki'i Pusi and some English nursery rhymes using audio recording software or video. Sound files can be posted to a shared workspace (see above) or online using podcasting software such as Podcaster or Podomatic .

Teachers can also share sound and audio files of their students engaged in classroom music on the Arts Online Student Gallery .

Exchange some favourite rhymes and songs with another class by setting up a shared work space on line. Wikispaces for Education is an easy to use online space for creating 'living' documents that may include any sort of interactive media and can be viewed and/or edited and commented on from anywhere with Internet access.

Or arrange for a class visit to another school or a video-link communication with another class, so students can ask and answer questions and share music making with others.

Can the students sing with confidence the songs they have learnt? Do they keep in time with each other as they chant and sing? Are they singing in tune with support from a recording or accompaniment? Are they singing in tune when singing solo or without an accompaniment? Can they accompany themselves on ukulele? If so, what do they think they have learnt about playing ukulele? Which chords can they play? Can they change chord at the right time? Can they strum in time to the beat? If they are not able to accompany themselves, do they know what they need to learn in order to play?

Related Activities

Visual Art Exemplars of Level One Visual Arts focus on illustrations from the book Greedy Cat's Door

Dance See Kiwi Kidsongs Dance for ideas on how to develop a dance to the song "The Cat is Greedy"


Music Glossary There is a music glossary for teachers on the Ministry of Education website Arts Online Music glossary

Ministry of Education resource catalogue: Down the Back of the Chair

Into Music One Ministry of Education (2001) Into Music 1: Classroom Music in Years 1-3. Wellington. Learning Media (book and CD)

Ki'i Pusi Ministry of Education (2003) Track 7, Tongan Songs, Hiva, Ta'anga, m e Himi 'I loto Nu'u Sila, Learning Media (book and CD) This is a traditional English song to which Sione Fifita Tupou has added two of his own verses.

Sau Pusi Sau Ministry of Education (2000) Track 6 , Samoan Songs Fatuga F'asamoa I Aotearoa: Samoan Songs. Wellington: Learning Media (book and CD)

The Cat is Greedy Ministry of Education (2007) Song from Kiwi Kidsongs 101, Learning Media (DVD Rom)

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