Mudcat Café message #2106642 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103388   Message #2106642
Posted By: Azizi
19-Jul-07 - 05:52 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Crocodile crocodile game.
Subject: RE: Folklore: Crocodile crocodile game.
I didn't play "Chickama Chicama Cranie [Craney?] Crow" or "What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf" when I was growing up in New Jersey, in the 1950s. My children didn't play either of those games when they were growing up in the 1970s/1980s.

In the late 1990s to 2005 I facilitated after-school/summer children's groups in the Pittsburgh, Penn. area that focused on sharing traditional and adapted African American game songs [and also learning and performing contemporary African American rhymes}. The focus population for these groups were girls and boys ages 5-12 years.

Around the year 2000, I learned the game "What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf" and included it in the group's game song curriculum under the title "What Time Is It, Mr.Fox?" I changed the name of this game because I included the "Chicama Chicama Craney Crow" verse and thought that a fox trying to eat the chickens sounded more realistic than a wolf eating chickens {though wolves may indeed eat chickens for all I know}. {I think I was influenced by that song "Fox went out one starry night" in which the fox says "A couple of you gonna grease my skin/ before I reach the town-o"}...

As to the line "chickama chickama cranie crow"...well...I really didn't [and don't still] know what that line means. I told the children that these words were spoken by the mother [or father] hen to the fox and that "chickama" meant "my chicks" {my little chickens"}. I also said that I thought that "cranie crow" meant something like "Granny" crow. Initially, I said that the mother hen was insulting the fox by calling him or her an old crow. But then I thought about a black "crow" being a put down. And didn't like the thought that I was teaching children to insult someone based on their color.So I dropped that explanation, and told children that the truth of the matter was that I really didn't know what "cranie crow" meant but I thought that "chickama" meant "my chicks". I explained to the children that the fox had already eaten one of the chicks and the mother {or father} hen was both confronting the fox AND protecting the rest of her "chickens".

Here's how I taught this game:

One person was selected as the "fox" and one person was selected as the mother {or father} hen. The other children lined up vertically behind the mother or father hen {so she or he could protect them from the fox}. The fox stood facing the hens with his [or her] back to the designated area that was the hen's "home base". The game started with all of the "chickens" chanting the "chickama chickama craney crow" lines. The fox would then arbitrarily say a time {such as 8'o clock}. The chickens did not move but remained standing behind the mother or father chicken, and they would then again say "What time is it, Mr Fox?". The fox would say another time {such as 3 o'clock}. This pattern would continue until the fox suddenly shouted "Dinner Time!". When the fox said that all the chickens would scatter. The object was for the chickens to try to run to home base {for instance, across a designated line on the other side of the gym} before the fox caught them. If the fox caught them the chickens were out.{children who were "out" were supposed to stand apart from the action and watch it going on. This did not work out too well}. The first person to reach the home base becomes the new mother or father hen. The last person who is caught becomes the new "fox". Ideally, the mother/father fox is supposed to help her children stay away from the fox. But in reality, that part didn't work out so good.

There were times during these adult facilitated groups when children initiated "free play" and chose to play this game. Usually, what occurred is they dropped the recitation of the chickama lines and went directly with the "What time is it, Mr. Fox" lines and the chasing that occurred afterwards. It was obvious that what the children liked best about this game was the chase. But they also seemed to like the anticipation of the fox [okay, the wolf] saying differnt times before he or she finally said "Dinner Time!"