Over the ocean

A sailor went to sea

Bully in the alley

I’se the b’y

John Kanaka-naka

Roll the old chariot along

Turn the glasses over

When I was one

When we dance the polka


Last updated: 05/11/2015 13:34


The songs below are part ofAway we go’ Round and about

compiled, adapted, translated and illustrated by Dany Rosevear


Return to ‘Singing games for children’ home page


To listen to music from these songs click on title at O

To watch the author sing a song click on the title at:


© Dany Rosevear 2008 All rights reserved

You are free to copy, distribute, display and perform these works under the following conditions:

·       you must give the original author credit

·       you may not use this work for commercial purposes

·       for any re-use or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work

·       any of these can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder

Your fair use and other rights are no way affected by the above.



A sailor went to sea O


This song can be played as a clapping game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB9PxEvAeYk&feature=related or a miming one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf-i8zL5OyU&feature=related as below.
















A sailor went to sea, sea, sea,

To see what he could see, see, see,

And all that he could see, see, see,

Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea.


A sailor went to chop, chop, chop,

To see what he could chop, chop, chop,

And all that he could chop, chop, chop,

Was the bottom of the deep blue chop, chop. chop.


... knee, knee, knee,...


...tap, tap, tap,..




...see, chop, knee, tap, oo-a-chu-a,...

Tap side of hand to forehead each time ‘sea / see’ is sung.




Chop side of hand to forearm each time ‘chop’ is sung.





Slap knee each time ‘knee’ is sung.


Tap foot each time ‘tap’ is sung.


Place hands on hips and wiggle them from side to side each time ‘oo-a-chu-a’ is sung.


Mime all actions above in sequence each time a line is sung.













Bully in the alley O


This halyard shanty is probably of West Indian origin; sea shanties were sung by sailors working on board sailing ships to enable them to work rhythmically in unison and to distract from the arduous nature of the tasks they were required to do.

‘Bully’ in this context meant extremely inebriated. While ashore sailors liked to go out drinking in groups, those who could not get back to the ship under their own steam were stashed in the alley until it was time to return to sea.


The whereabouts of Shinbone Al is controversial. One Shinbone Alley is located in St Georges in Bermuda but Shinbone Alleys are found in other seaports of the U.S.A. There is also a Shinbone AL (Alabama).


Listen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6tnSx5KXgE


Mime shipboard tasks to this music; pulling up the anchor, hoisting the sails, turning the wheel, pumping out water, rowing to the shore  etc. as an alternative to the dance below.














So it’s help me Bob, I’m bully in the alley,

Way, hey, bully in the alley,

It’s help me Bob, I’m bully in the alley,

Bully down in Shinbone Al!


When I was a young man I took a notion,

Way, hey, bully in the alley,

To sail across the great wide ocean,

Bully down in Shinbone Al!


Help me Bob there’s water in the galley,

Fetch up the bucket, don’t shilly shally,


Got to St. Lou and steered for my Sally,

She lives way down on Shinbone Alley,


For seven long years I courted Sally,

All she would do was dilly in the dally,


Well goodbye Sal, I’m gonna be a sailor,

Pack my bags and ship aboard a whaler.

Two lines of children face each other repeating the rhythm of stamp, stamp, clap (or just clap) The pair at the head of the line hold hands and sideways gallop up between the lines, down and then up again where they remain.





On each last phrase pairs hold hands and swing partners around.


































































I’se the b’y O


A traditional Newfoundland ballad and lively dance ditty that translates as ‘I’m the boy’. It reflects the sea going life of fishermen living in tiny isolated villages along Newfoundland’s rugged coast. The third line of the chorus is usually sung as ‘Fogo, Twillingate, Morton Harbour’ secluded outposts from where men built and sailed their fishing schooners.


Find more verses and listen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-bQn9DtgUA


Make two circles one inside the other, partners facing and holding hands for all of first verse.




















I’se the b’y that builds the boat,

And I’se the b’y that sails her,

I’se the b’y that catches the fish,

And takes them home to Lisa.


Hip your partner Sally Tibo,

Hip your partner Sally Brown!

Haul in the nets and off to the harbour,

All around the circle.


1. Hold hands high, move arms forward and back. Dip and dive - outside circle and inside alternate moving up and down.

2. Skip round the circle and back to original place.


3. Do-si-do with right hips passing.

Do-si-do with left hips passing.

Walk all the way round the circle pulling in the nets, pass first partner with a wave and then stop at the next child who becomes the new partner.



































































John Kanaka-naka O


This call and response work-song was popular at one time among seamen who traded in the Pacific Islands and the Pacific shores of America. Versions have also been recorded in the West Indies such as the Barbados. ‘Kanaka’ means ‘man’ in Hawaii and has been used in Australia for Polynesians in general.


Watch alternative movements at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYHZFsFFQTc or http://www.schooltube.com/video/dd81383829014c4db57f/


Initially groups of four, stand facing a leader. The leader sings the words of the song and demonstrates the actions. The children echo each phrase and mimic the actions. Encourage the children to make more complex movements as their confidence grows.





















Leader: I heard, I heard the old man say,

Group: John Kanaka-naka, too-ri-ay,

Leader: Today, today is a holiday.

Group: John Kanaka-naka, too-ri-ay,

All:       Too-ri-ay, oh too-ri-ay,

             John Kanaka-naka, too-ri-ay,


Oh haul away, oh haul away,

Group sing refrain

Oh haul away and make your pay. Group sing refrain and then chorus


Turn the wheel at the break of day,

Turn the wheel for ’Frisco Bay.


Scrub the deck to keep it clean,

We’ll sail away to New Orleans.

Skip and swing legs out to each side, turn head holding alternate hands above brow. Place one arm on top of the other at shoulder height. Skip and swing legs alternatively across body.

With hands on hips or held behind back skip round in a circle of four.


Haul anchor up, skipping with one leg behind and one in front.

Repeat sequence in bold


Hold wheel and skip as it is pulled strongly down from side to side.

Repeat sequence in bold


Make vigorous scrubbing actions.

Make up other actions: climb the rigging, pump out water, row to the shore etc...


































Roll the old chariot along O


This popular shanty originated as an African American spiritual; many black crew sailed on 19th century vessels and this rhythmic song was well suited to the gang labour needed on big sailing ships. Also a Salvation Army favourite, this song features in the Laura Ingalls Wilder songbook where each song appears in the ‘Little House’ series.

It is a great song for adding extra verses and alternative movements: A little stride / walk / march etc.


Listen to an acapella version at:



The game begins with groups of four or six children holding hands in circles spaced evenly about the room. Each group nominates a first leader.


































So we’ll roll the old chariot along,

And we’ll roll the golden chariot along,

So we’ll roll the old chariot along,

And we’ll all hang on behind!


A little jump up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

A little jump up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

A little jump up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

And we’ll all hang on behind!



A little hop up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

A little hop up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

A little hop up and down wouldn’t do us any harm,

And we’ll all hang on behind!



A little tiptoe up and down ....



A little stamp up and down ....



Each circle moves to the left with a bouncy walk.



Turn in the opposite direction and place hands on the waist of the child in front. The leader takes the group off jumping and weaving in and out of the other groups.


Circles are reformed for the chorus.

The second child then becomes leader of the new line and the children move appropriately to the words of the son each time a verse is sung.


Make up new verses.
























Turn the glasses over O


This singing game from Virginia originated, like many of the songs on these pages, in the British Isles: ‘I’ve been to London boys’ / ‘...Bristol’ / ‘...Portsmouth’, where it was popularly sung as a drinking song at harvest suppers.

The imbiber was encouraged to finish his drink in one go, throw his empty glass in the air to catch it in his hat before the refrain was finished.

Failure meant repeating the performance with success less likely each time the song was sung!


Make a double circle with partners standing side by side, facing clockwise and holding hands in a skating position.






























I’ve been to Harlem, I’ve been to Dover,

I’ve travelled this wide world all over,

Over, over, three times over,

Drink what you have to drink,

Then turn the glasses over.


Sailing East, sailing West,

Sailing over the ocean,

You better watch out when the boat begins to rock,

Or you’ll lose your partner in the ocean.


Partners walk clockwise round the circle.


Lift hands so the outside partner turns to face in the opposite direction.



Drop hands to make an inner and outer circle which walk in opposite directions.


On ‘ocean’ those in the inner circle holds hands with the nearest child in the outer circle and the game continues. Those who have no partner retire to the ‘lobster pot’ in the centre. At the words ‘sailing east’ they rejoin the circle aiming to catch a partner.

































When I was one O


Make up new rhymes for this lively action song, the options are endless.


Listen to a different version at:





















When I was one I had some fun,

The day I went to sea.

I jumped aboard a pirate ship,

And the captain said to me,

“I’m going this way, that way,

Forwards and backwards,

Over the Irish Sea,

A bottle of rum to fill my tum,

And that’s the life for me!”


When I was two I buckled my shoe,


When I was three I grazed my knee,...


When I was four I scrubbed the floor,....


When I was five I learned to dive,....


When I was six I picked up sticks,....


When I was seven I sailed to Devon,.....


When I was eight I fished for skate,....


When I was nine I hauled the line,.....


When I was ten I sang this again,.....

Show appropriate number of fingers.

Make waves with one hand then the other.

Jump forwards.


Put hand to right brow and lean in that direction. Do the same to the left.

Bend forwards and backwards hands on hips. Stick out and rub tummy.

Mime climbing the riggings or hauling in the anchor.


Mime action for each subsequent verse.






When we dance the polka O


This polka originated in Bohemia (the present Czech Republic) in the early 1800s before becoming the rousing shanty; ‘New York Girl’s or ‘Can’t you dance the polka?’. A shanty is a song sung by sailors at their work at the time sailing ships plied the seven seas. The crew would sing the chorus to verses sung by the shanty man who was excused all heavy hauling and heaving work. The verses of the original shanty were often quite ribald and even the ‘clean’ versions were disguised in double entendre!


Children stand in a circle opposite a partner holding hands. Begin by moving anti clockwise.














Heel and toe, heel and toe, get cracking on your way.

It’s heel and toe, heel and toe, we’ll dance the live long day.


Oh we’re fine and dandy, my dear Annie,

Oh, what fun we have when we dance the polka!

Heel and toe twice then four slip steps sideways. Repeat in the opposite direction.


Swing partner round with both hands.

Offer right hand to partner then walk round to face next partner in the circle as below.

















Return to ‘Singing games for children’ home page