by Tamsyn

June 24, 2020

Today I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite song books by Emilie Poulsson.  It's called "Holiday Songs and Every Day Songs and Games". And one of the best parts about it is, it was published in 1911, making it Public Domain.  Freely available to use for all your classroom needs!

Today I'd like to highlight the song "Fourth of July".  I realize that many of my readers aren't from the USA, and the 4th of July may not be one of your holidays, but the book is chuck-full of many sweet songs for all of the seasons, not just country-specific holidays.  My children have been learning these songs over the last 2 years, and I will be sharing many more of them in the near future in a better-compiled resource.  I just wanted to start out with this one since it is an up-coming holiday for many of you, and a personal favorite for my children.

As a balloon artist, I found the "colored balloons in the sky" line particularly interesting.  This is an older book, published before helium balloons were readily available.  The illustration shows a sky lantern similar to the ones used in Disney's Tangled.  I have done a little digging to learn more about their use in early America and wasn't able to find much.  The footnote to the song says "The words and music of this song were composed by a class of twelve year old children in the Elementary School (University of Chicago) and under the direction of Mrs. May Root Kern."  Obviously these children were familiar with sky lanterns and called them balloons.  Kind of a fun history tidbit.

Google Books has made the sheet music to this song, along with the entire book, available here.  I recorded my children singing it for you.  Enjoy!

Please note that the book is shared as-is, in the historical and cultural context of its day.  Last year I shared a video of my kids singing it on Facebook and clarified that "torpedoes" simply meant "fireworks", and the post got flagged as potential terrorist content.  There's also a song entitled "Queer Pussies", which is a song about how silly pussy willow cats are.  I skipped that one, didn't teach it to the kids.  So... watch out for politically incorrect content!  Use your discretion!  Things like this come with the territory of old books. But overall the book is charming and innocent, and oh so fun!  Some of our other favorites in the book are "Around the Maypole", "Fly, Little Birds", "Barnyard Song", "Birds in Autumn", "Falling Snow", "Song for a Child's Birthday", "Little Travelers", "Going to Market", "Good Advice" (so funny!), and "Sandman".

If you like Emilie Poulsson's work (I'm such a HUGE fan!), you may also like her Mother Play Songs.

About the author 


My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.

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