Chicken cups and songs

Listening to the students practice their chicken songs for the music festival, I remembered that Dad's chicky cup and cereal bowl were now high up in a kitchen cabinet.

The "chicky bowl" has lost much of its decoration due to generations of spoon scrapes. The "chicky cup" has a small crack, but the exterior images are clear. Filled with daisies, the cup would make a good still life for the elementary art students to use for a quiet line drawing.

The cup and bowl date to my dad's childhood in Pierce, Nebraska in the 1920s. There are no markings on the undersides to indicate origin. The baby chick images matched perfectly with the collection of nursery story books on the bottom shelf in Grandma's living room. I wish I had those little softcover books of the Billy Goats Gruff and Little Red Hen. It was a special event to eat from the bowl and cup on a weekend visit to Pierce when I was a child.

The children are singing a song called "Chook, Chook". It goes like this:

Chook chook
Chook chook
Good morning, Mrs. Hen.
How many chickens have you got?
Madam, I have ten,
Four of them are yellow,
And four of them are brown,
And two of them are speckled red,
The nicest in the town.

I don't remember that from my childhood nursery rhymes, but I did know two versions on another song:

Ever since Gene Hardy's "Childrens Literature" class in the UNL English Department in the mid-Seventies, I've been alternately annoyed and intrigued by those deep, hidden meanings in nursery tales. Is this Hickety Pickety rhyme an easy one for skipping, singing kids just learning to read with simple phonics? Or is it about racism and prostitution?

I'm teaching children who don't know that milk comes from cows, eggs come from chickens, and veggies grow in dirt. Did you know applesauce doesn't begin in handy three-pack individual servings?

I hope to post some of the elementary students' line drawings of daisies in Dad's old breakfast cup soon. The children liked hearing the history behind the cup.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

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