Abiyoyo Lessons with Printables

Abiyoyo Lessons with Printables
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biyoyo is based on a South African lullaby and folk story. It was put down in words by folk singer/songwriter Pete Seeger for his children. With these Abiyoyo lessons you will be listening to the audio version of the tale, doing role playing, experimenting with shadow creatures and more.

Prepare and Read Abiyoyo

Before presenting this book to the class it is important to familiarize yourself with the text. You will want to assume the role as a storyteller and be able to tell the story with expression and not depend on following every word. If you are able to obtain the book that includes a CD with Pete Seeger’s version of the story, practice the tune of the song he sings. Then you can sing to your students as the father and the boy sang to Abiyoyo. Sing faster and faster as they did to make the giant fall to the ground.

Now it is time to read the story through to your students. Provide a globe to show them South Africa; the origin of the story. Wait until you have completed the story before you ask for questions and comments.

Then ask questions of your own:

  • How did the boy bother the people?
  • What is a ukulele? (Sometimes spelled ukulele)
  • What did the father do to annoy the village people?
  • Would it bother you to have important things disappear?
  • What does ostracize mean?
  • Why did the boy and the father play the music faster and faster to Abiyoyo?
  • Why did the people allow the father and the boy back into the village?

Audio and Video Versions

Abiyoyo was featured on Between the Lions a PBS show for children. Theo the Lion reads the African folk story and it has wonderful sound effects to go with it. The performance is available on their website.

The CD that comes with the book has two versions of Pete Seeger telling the story and, of course, he sings the song, too. The 1980 version was done in front of an audience so you will hear the audience responding. My preference would be to listen to the 1956 version. Both versions are included on the CD.

Role Playing


  • Toy ukulele
  • Magic wand
  • Hats, shirts, misc. clothing for the town people

Read the story again with students acting it out. Choose children to play the boy, the father, Abiyoyo and several townspeople. Have the audience sing along faster and faster until the giant collapses to the floor.

Shadow Play

120px-Love shadows everything

When Abiyoyo first appeared in the story, he was shown as a large shadow in front of the sun. Have fun with your students by making shadow animals and creatures. Go outside if the sun is right or use a light and a blank wall in your classroom.

Add some books to the lesson:

  1. What Makes a Shadow? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Clyde Robert Bulla and June Otani
  2. Shadows and Reflections by Tana Hoban(Author, Illustrator)
  3. Whose Shadow Is This?: A Look at Animal Shapes - by Berge, Claire, Shea and Denise
  4. Fun with Hand Shadows (Dover Game and Puzzle Activity Books) This book will show you the position of the hands to make different shadow animals.


To complete your Abiyoyo lessons you may want to add some worksheets or activity pages. These can be used as homework, seatwork during reading groups or as an assessment tool.

Here are two Abiyoyo lesson printables for you:


“Between the Lions” on PBS: Video of the Lion reading Abiyoyo. Great sound effects to add to the drama.

South African Xhosa People (origin of the lullaby Abiyoyo): https://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/artsmediaculture/culture%20&%20heritage/cultural-groups/xhosa.htm


Book jacket and forward: Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger

Shadow image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Love_shadows_everything.jpg

Book Cover: amazon.com