4th or 5th Grade   General Music Lesson Plan

          Follow the Drinking Gourd in correlation with Black History Month     

(lesson plan to be used over a period of two lengths)       


  • Understand why the coded song ³Follow the Drinking Gourd² was so important to many slaves.   
  • Create coded song lyrics that fit with a given melody.
  • Sing song lyrics as a small group while recording into Garage Band.
Objectives:  LWDAT







The purpose of this lesson is for students to understand how songs were used to help slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.  Students will use this same idea to create their own coded songs and use technology and performance to perform and record their own coded songs. 








  1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

4.  Composing and arranging music within specific guidelines.

9.  Understanding music in relation to history and culture. 

Standards: (MENC National Standards)






  • Follow the Drinking Gourd  by Jeanette Winter
  • C.D. recording of ³Follow the Drinking Gourd²  and C.D. player.
  • Map and ³left foot, peg foot labels² to map out route
  • Computers with Garage Band  (track set up with piano part from ³Drinking Gourd²








Music and Materials:









  1. Anticipatory Set:   Question/discuss with class:  ³Why do we listen to music?²   and ³Why is it important to you?²  (Expecting answers about entertainment)
  2.  Class will learn the song Follow the Drinking Gourd through imitation.  
  3. Read Story:  Read Follow the Drinking Gourd to the class.  Discuss significance of the story and how it relates to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. 
  4. Map:  Show map of areas in the story.  Have students map out the route as told in the story . 
  5. Composing lyrics:  Working in groups of three, code a ³secret message² explaining how to get to a specific place.  To the melody used in ³Follow the Drinking Gourd², write one verse.  Get teacher approval to move onto the next step.  
  6. Recording:  In Garage Band,  record the lyrics over the piano part that has already been created.    
  7. Closing Activity: ³What are other ways that this message to escape could have been taught to the slaves?²














  • Were students able to discuss and understand how this song was originally?
  • Were students able to take the idea of the coded song to create their own lyrics?
  • Could students write lyrics that fit with the song melody?
  • Could students successfully record their songs in Garage Band?









  • Play recorded performances for the class.  Try to ³decode² the lyrics.
  • Research other points in history that songs were used for various purposes.