The Singing Playground

Our Nellie-Rose loves to sing and we love to hear her sweetness fill the air. There is a lightness about her when she breaks into song. She shines from the inside out. New tunes arrive at our house via Nellie nearly every week. She learns many of them from her teacher who loves to share the gift of music. Already our grade one girl has acquired quite a repertoire. Most of the songs I’m unfamiliar with because she’s in a French language school. Maman is Québecoise and she knows them all which comes in handy when Nellie’s lyrics aren’t quite spot on, or if the tune sounds a little off key.

The Singing Playground II

Imagine my great delight when I discovered The Singing Playground tucked away on the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood’s patch of the interweb. The interactive painting features recordings of playground songs and was created by Dan Jones an East Ender (London) painter and writer. For over 40 years he has been collecting recordings of the songs kids sing while at play. Mosquito One, Mosquito Two (below) was recorded by Coral for the Camden Council World Music Project.


“The 148 games in this painting and the accompanying recordings (over 300) were collected mainly from children in primary schools in London, including Arnhem Wharf, Christchurch and Hermitage Schools and the Summer University in Tower Hamlets, Winton, Primrose Hill and St Alban’s in Islington, Oakington Manor in Wembley and Haverhill in Suffolk. There are also games from the Camden Council World Music Project and material contributed by Amnesty International human rights campaigners.” (Source)

The Singing Playground will be on exhibit at Rich Mix’s Lower Cafe on Bethnal Green Road, London from February 6 through 28. If you’re like me and can’t make it to London in February, click on The Singing Playground image above and meander through the wonderful selection.

This online treasure will be a great source of new songs for Nellie-Rose and there’s a French offering too – Promenons nous dans le bois. Our four-year-old, Lila, who loves to belt out a tune in her own right, won’t be far behind big sister.

Thanks Dan Jones – profiles here and here – and thanks to the V and A Museum of Childhood.

scan2192_21Dan’s painting of Christ Church School, Brick Lane in 1982, as reproduced in “Inky, Pinky, Ponky”, a book of playground rhymes.

4 responses to “The Singing Playground

  1. I still have one of his illustrated books from my childhood – late 80’s…such a classic, love his work


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