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Paw Paw Patch: Adjectives Lesson Plan

Author: Loretta Walker

Year: 2015

Artform: Music

Subjects: Language Arts

Grade: 2nd, 3rd

Duration: 10 - 30 minutes

Overview: Students sing and play the game for the song Paw Paw Patch, identify the adjectives that modify “Suzy” and then choose positive adjectives to describe their classmates in additional verses.

Standards and Objectives

Sing in a natural voice free from strain.

Use the body to internalize the rhythm of a melody.
Conventions of Standard English: Adjectives
Students will sing Paw Paw Patch and substitute classmates’ names and positive adjectives to create new verses.



Optional Word Strip Preparation Activity:

Perhaps in a community-building class meeting, have the class brainstorm a list of positive adjectives that they could use to describe their classmates, or that they would like to have their classmates use to describe them. Write the adjectives on the board so students will know how to spell them. Then, give each child one or two pieces of paper (or tagboard strips, index cards, etc).

Each child will then write choose one adjective from the list to write on each paper in large, clear print. (The children do not put their names on these papers.) The teacher collects the student-generated words strips. These papers will be used as word strips in the main portion of this lesson.

The teacher can also prepare a generous number of adjective word strips ahead of time to use in the game.

You know your students. If you have concerns about some children intentionally choosing adjectives that might hurt feelings (such as “pretty” to describe a boy), remove potentially hurtful adjectives from the pile of word strips before playing the game.

Main Activity:

Sing or play a recording of the first verse of the song, Paw Paw Patch. (Play 1 has words of all three verses, which are not useful for this activity. Play 2 has no words, so you can sing the first verse three times in a row for practice.) Invite the students to sing along with you as soon as they are comfortable. In keeping with the style of the music, have the children move to the beat of the music and as they listen to, learn, and sing it. Help the children find patterns in the lyrics and melody as you sing the song with them again.

Create a body percussion pattern for everyone to perform each the class sings “Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.” The rhythm of the body percussion pattern should match the rhythm of the words of that phrase. Create something that is fun and that everyone can do fairly easily.

One possibility might be, to pat hands on knees on each syllable of “Way down yon-der in the”, then snap (or pretend to snap) fingers of one hand and then the other on “paw paw,” and clap on the word “patch.” Create a pattern that is works and is enjoyable for you and your students. Perform this pattern each time you sing the last phrase of a verse.

If you need to teach this lesson in short, separate segments, this is a good place to pause the lesson before resuming the activity later.


For this section the class should be sitting in a circle. The word strips should be in the middle of the circle, spread out and face up so they can be read.

The teacher brings out the stuffed animal (or toy or puppet) to “lead” the singing. You might choose to call it “Suzy” and use the traditional words of the song. Or you might give the stuffed animal a different name and change the words of the song to use the animal’s name. For purposes of this example, the animal will be named “Suzy.”

While the whole class sings the first three phrases of the song (“Where oh, where is pretty little Suzy? three times) the teacher plays with the animal, perhaps pretending it is hiding or running away. However, during this process, the teacher and/or animal picks up an adjective from the center of the circle and places it on the floor in front of one of the children in the class. This needs to occur rather quickly so this process is completed during the first three phrases of the song.

By the time the song reaches “Way down yonder in the paw, paw patch” the teacher/animal has set the adjective on the floor in front of a child and hands the animal to that child. While singing the last phrase, the whole class performs the body percussion pattern they practiced when first learning the song.

For the next verse, the class sings the song using the name of the child who just received the stuffed animal, and the adjective that has been placed on the floor in front of the child. If the child were named “Ben” and the adjective were “thoughtful,” the child would play with the animal, pick up a word strip, and place it in front of another child while everyone in the class would sing:

“Where, oh where, is thoughtful Ben?
Where, oh where, is thoughtful Ben?
Where, oh where, is thoughtful Ben?”

Then, on the final phrase, the child would pass the animal to the new child while the whole class sings and performs the body percussion to:

“Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.”


Continue this process until all children have had a turn. Because children who have had a turn will have a word strip on the floor in front of them, it is not necessary to have turns proceed from one child to the next directly around the circle. The word strips make it clear who has or has not had a turn, so turn-taking should usually run smoothly even when children are free to choose any child in the circle who has not yet been chosen. This element of unpredictability tends to help children stay more fully engaged in the game.


Create and enjoy one final verse about something important to the class, perhaps about an adult in the school or the stuffed animal that was used to play the game.

Research shows that learning is deeper and richer when it has personal meaning. This game is designed to show the power of adjectives by making them personally relevant to individual children.
  • Are adjectives important to the meaning of a sentence?
  • How does it feel to have nice things said about you?
Most children should be able to participate in this activity without difficulty. The repetitious lyrics facilitate the success of children with language limitations.

Children with limited reading ability may need help choosing an adjective, or perhaps they can write one and keep it near them while playing the game so they can choose it when it is their turn, and they will already know what it says.

This game provides children with limited communication or social skills a safe environment in which to practice positive social interactions.
  • Paw Paw
  • Adjective
Prior to the advent of TV and video games, children often spent many hours with their friends, playing singing games such as this one.

The traditional lyrics to the song (shown on the notation PDF) suggest a hide-and-seek game that might be fun to play outside at recess or inside during indoor recess.
Listen for students to use a natural singing voice, free from strain. Observe that students correctly perform the body percussion rhythm on the last phrase of the song.

Monitor that the words the students suggest as they brainstorm adjectives for the word strip, really are adjectives.

Observe students’ choice of adjectives and interpersonal interactions during the game.
It is helpful to have many more word strips than you have children in your class. That way the last child to choose a word strip more than one option. Furthermore, the original song uses two adjectives to describe Suzy. You may want to your students to have the option to choose more than one adjective to describe a classmate. It is better to have too many to choose from than to have too few.

This song has a strong social element that engages the children. It also allows them to practice positive interpersonal interactions. Some children may have minimal opportunity to see this critical life skill modeled outside of the classroom. This game can help fulfill that need and give children a pool of positive words to use in conversation.


  • Notation and recording of Paw Paw Patch.
    • Click on the title for notation and lesson ideas
    • Click on Play 1 for a recording with vocals
    • Click Play 2 for a recording without vocals (accompaniment only).
    • If you are sufficiently confident to this song from the music notation only, the activity can be done without any recordings, although the recorded accompaniment may contribute to the effectiveness of the lesson.
  • A small stuffed animal, toy, or puppet to use as a prop in the game
  • Word strips with positive adjectives written on them (preferably at least as many as you have students in your class). Some words may be repeated. It is possible to have students create these word strips prior to or at the beginning of this lesson.