Lesson Plan

The Appalachian Riddle Song

Engage students in this thrilling lesson to show Appalachian culture

Students will be able to...

  • answer contemporary and traditional riddles
  • listen to and sing "The Riddle Song"
  • view photos from the Southern Appalchian Mountains
  • identify the pentatonic scale and the phrase structure use from "The Riddle Song"
  • sing and move to the play-party game "Goin' to Boston"
Social Studies
cultural understanding
Grades 2 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Reading

Refresh the minds of the students by telling them of the previous lesson of studying about Appalachian Mountains and culture. Review the pentatonic scale. Have appropriate materials ready.

Ask the class a variety of riddles. Explain to them that these are an old tradition in many cultures, including Appalachia.

Have students brainstorm what they don't know or want to learn more about this culture.

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Presenting

Sing the unaccompanied song, “The Riddle Song.” Point out that there are four statements, four questions, and four answers.

Explain that riddle songs were once very popular in the British Isles. The correct answer to a riddle could mean a great fortune, a “yes” to a marriage proposal, or a life saved.

In the United States, ballads with riddles were neither as widespread nor as complex as in the British Isles. “The Riddle Song,” as sung in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, contains a melodic sequence in its first two phrases and is built on a pentatonic scale.

The Riddle Song:



3 Guided Practice

Activity: Broadcasting

Have the class listen to the recording of “The Riddle Song.”

While the students are listening, show the 12 pictures from the Southern Appalachian Mountains (one for each phrase).

Assist the students if there is any confusion on the pictures.

4 Independent Practice

Activity: Assessing

Teach the students “The Riddle Song.”

Study the pentatonic scale used in the song. Have the students identify the number of phrases.

Distribute a test on the pentatonic scale two weeks after lesson.

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Other — Singing and dancing

Sing and illustrate the play-party game “Goin' to Boston.” Teach the song and motions to the students. Let the students have a fin time by singing and following the motions for the song. Encourage them to tell their families about the lesson and discuss about the Appalachian culture.