Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Benjamin Franklin Founding Father, a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: July 17, 2012

My family visited Philadelphia for Spring Break in 2012 and we went to the Franklin Institute.  Inside the front doors of the grand building is an enormous memorial for Benjamin Franklin and I took a picture…

And a little ditty (to the tune of “Ode to Joy”) came to mind.

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOUNDING FATHER
Words by  Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
Sing to the tune of “Ode to Joy”
(Singing in key of C, first note = E)

Benjamin Franklin Founding Father
Flew a kite in the lightning and felt it buzz.

He went to France and saved our new nation
By getting the promise of needed funds.

He wrote Richard’s Almanack, invented the armonica,
Bifocal lenses helped him get his reading done.

Philosopher, inventor and so much more,
A Renaissance man he truly was.

*
Sing the song along with Emily:

http://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/benjamin-franklin-founding

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I made a little book for it…

*

Benjamin Franklin Founding Father
Words and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
Sing to the Tune of “Ode to Joy” (by  Ludwig van Beethoven)
Illustrated with Online Images of Artwork by Various Artists

This booklet is intended for home, library or classroom use only.

To hear how the song goes, here’s a little scratch recording of me singing the song,

http://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/benjamin-franklin-founding

*4/21/2017 note:  I’ve changed the words a little this scratch in 2012.  My daughter suggested I make better rhymes.  But the information in the song, honoring Mr. Franklin is the same.  I hope you can learn a little something and enjoy yourself while singing this little ditty.

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Note on the spelling of “Almanack”

My spell-check dogs me about the spelling of “Almanack” because the spell-check does not like the K, but I’m using the K because that is how Ben Franklin spelled on his covers:

poor richard's almanack clip

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Note from Emily on 7/16/2012 

So far as I’ve been able to research, no songs have been written proclaiming the praises of Benjamin Franklin.  Interestingly, the only song I’ve found to mention George Washington is Yankee Doodle, and even then, he’s only mentioned as, “Captain Washington upon a slapping stallion.”  I’ve got a little verse in the works also for President Washington.

I’ve recently seen a few theatrical productions (the musical 1776 at Ford’s Theatre and the HBO Mini-series “John Adams” based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by David McCullough, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney).  I also recently read a wonderful book, “The Founding Brothers,” by Joseph J. Ellis (which also won a Pulitzer Prize) which is eloquent in making the case for John Adams’ indispensable role in the foundation of the United States. John Adams has not gotten the historical attention of men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington, but John Adams was no less important a factor in the dream of the United States becoming reality.  In my humble way, I’d like to do my part is giving him some credit and look forward to writing him a little verse to a well known tune as well.

Keep your eyes peeled!  Then, it is my goal to knit these three verses (each to a different, but well respected, well known tune) together to make one substantial song for kids to learn and sing, with the goal to spark their interest in learning more about these 3 fascinating men.

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Addendum 7/8/2013

One of my favorite radio programs is Science Friday on NPR hosted by Ira Flato and I just discovered a couple things on their website about Benjamin Franklin and all of them feature information about Benjamin Franklin’s armonica which I mention in my little ditty about Mr. Franklin, one of my favorite historical figures.

ben franklin armonica
Etude Magazine cover, 1927, depicts Benjamin Franklin playing his invented musical instrument, the glass armonica

*
Just the other day,  Science Friday published a program (blog post and radio segment) about Ben Franklin, “Ben Franklin’s Intellectual Revolution,
http://sciencefriday.com/segment/07/05/2013/benjamin-franklin-s-intellectual-revolution.html

About 9 minutes into the segment, Ira Flato brings Dennis James (Professor of Glass Music Studies at Rutgers University School of Music) into the conversation.  It is a fascinating and inspiring discussion.

Dennis James speaks specifically of the Adagio in C Major that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote for the Armonica.  Here, a video for Dennis James’ recording of the piece:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvBmdKRM5Iw

*
Associated with the post about Ben Franklin, they included a video and article about Ben Franklin’s armonica in which musician Dennis James gives the history of the armonica and beautifully plays the instrument, too:
http://sciencefriday.com/blogs/07/05/2013/playing-the-ol-armonica.html

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Dennis James, Professor of Glass Music Studies at Rutgers University, plays and gives a historical account for the armonica, a glass instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzJC1ENMdeI

*
Summer Science 2010, Science Friday profiles Benjamin Franklin
http://sciencefriday.com/segment/07/02/2010/summer-science-ben-franklin.html

*
A video posted on Science Friday website, “My Favorite Scientist Benjamin Franklin,” (also mentions the armonica!),
http://sciencefriday.com/blogs/12/16/2010/my-favorite-scientist-benjamin-franklin.html

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Info Links

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PBS Documentary webpage:
http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/index.html

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Library Company of Philadelphia (Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731):
http://www.librarycompany.org/about/index.htm

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Franklin Club in Philly:
http://thefranklininn.com/history/benjamin-franklin-achievements-contributions/

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Franklin 300
An online exhibit created for Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday. Lots of great stuff about his amazing life, here:
http://www.benfranklin300.org/

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Union Fire Company wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Fire_Company

*
Excellent wiki article about Benjamin Franklin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin

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Addendum, 4/20/2017

Since learning to play a little bit of guitar, I decided to re-visit this little ditty I made up in hopes that I might be able to accompany myself to sing it.

Many thanks to this link for providing the clue to easy guitar chords for Ode to Joy.  I’m changing it a little, but this got me started and I’m grateful:
https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/32178/beginner-guitar-ode-to-joy-is-it-chords-shown-in-sheet-e-g-c-is-shown-but

*
Benjamin Franklin song sheet by ELEG for SBWE
Benjamin Franklin Founding Father (song sheet w chords by ELEG for SBWE)
Words and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
Sing to the Tune of “Ode to Joy” (by  Ludwig van Beethoven)
Illustrated with Online Images of Artwork by Various Artists
To view or print this sheet, click here:
Benjamin Franklin song sheet by ELEG for SBWE

Note: Singing in key of C, first note = E

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Related Posts

*
THE TURKEY IS A VERY FUNNY BIRD
This song mentions’s Ben Franklin’s wish that the Wild Turkey was the National Bird as opposed to the Bald Eagle
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/the-turkey-is-a-very-funny-bird-an-illustrated-song-by-eleg-for-sbwe/

*
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN FOUNDING FATHER, A SINGABLE PICTURE BOOK:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/benjamin-franklin-founding-father-a-singable-picture-book/

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Benjamin Franklin Founding Father and His Armonica

*
GEORGE WASHINGTON

*
JOHN ADAMS

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FOURTH OF JULY AND OTHER HOLIDAYS CELEBRATING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HER CITIZENS AND HISTORY
A list of Singable Picture Books celebrating the Fourth of July
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/a-patriotic-list-of-singable-books-for-july-4th/

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EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/singable-picture-books-with-sneaky-educational-content/

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SING-ALONG RESOURCES AND PRINTABLE MATERIALS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/sing-along-resources-2/

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