Have students sing the song and do the dance as demonstrated on the video. This is an excellent play party game to use with primary children. Depending upon the age of the children, the most difficult challenge may be getting the child in the center to come up with an original movement. Remove obstacles of inhibitions and lack of self-confidence by creating a safe atmosphere in which children can improvise.
Have older students learn the game and then teach it to younger students.
Use this as an introduction to or as part of a unit on France. Have students look for photos of children in France in the early 1900s.
Read French fables such as “The Grasshopper and the Ant” and “The Crow and the Fox” (Aesop’s fables), written by French poet Jean de la Fontaine. Discuss the purpose of fables and have students write fables of their own.
Punchinella originated in France, where it was known as “Polichinelle.” From there it traveled to England as Punchinello. By the time it reached America’s Appalachian Mountains, where instructor Jennifer Rose learned it, it had become Punchinella.
The game was written down for children by an early childhood teacher in France in the first decade of the 20th century. It was very popular in the mid-1900s, when groups such as the Brownies and Girl Scouts began using it.