**DISCLAIMER** I don’t really like making whole blog posts about things that I’m posting in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. I make games/songs/resources and I put them on TPT, but I like to make this blog about sharable things. Basically, I don’t want what you read here to feel like a commercial. Sorry if it ever comes off that way. My intent for this blog is to be a resource in and of itself and not a big ad for the products I have on TPT! So, that said, if you want to go and check out the resource that I made to accompany The Court of King Caratacus, great! There's a link near the bottom of this post that will take you to my TPT store. If not, you can still teach the song without my TPT product and use the other resources I talk about here. :D I hope this blog post helps you out either way!
King Caratacus – The Backstory
The song revolves around a King named Caratacus (can be spelled Caratacus or Caractacus). Now, the real Caratacus was a British chieftan who lived in the first century and resisted Roman conquest. He was King of the Britons and King of the Catuvellauni. King Caratacus was a real person (or so the stories tell us) but this song is not based on any real life adventures of any real king. Something tells me that Caratacus was pulled out of the air because his name is funny and adds to the enjoyment of the song. For instance, in the lyrics of this song he has a “harem” which would never have really existed in his first-century British lifetime or kingdom. He also interacts with witches: fascinating witches who put stitches in britches. So yeah, probably this story is not based in real life… but it’s fun to sing! For more on the complete inaccuracy of the Caratacus song read this delightful ranting article. :D
When I teach this song, I make it into a story. The lyrics are pretty complicated and I’ve learned that when you make a story out of something kids are more apt to remember and understand. So, I came up with a story that explains away the various elements of the song that wouldn’t necessarily go together. Without the story you’ve got some pretty funny, tongue twister lyrics, but not much to hold them together or to make sense. Make it a story and it makes more sense to everyone involved.
Teaching the Song – It's Cumulative!
King Caratacus is the ultimate cumulative song because each new element that you add makes the singing even more complicated. First you start with the “Court of King Caratacus” which isn’t necessarily easy to say or sing. Then comes, “The Ladies of the harem of the court of King Caratacus.” Then “the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caratacus” and on and on until you get the final phrase: “If you’d like to take a picture of the fascinating witches who put scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caratacus…” See what I mean? Complicated and hard to say/sing and so much fun! The kids love learning some new vocabulary and love the challenge of remembering all the words and actions.
I often teach this song unaccompanied and then move to piano when I know that they've really learned it. I start unaccompanied so that I can sing along and show them the actions as we go through it (otherwise it's just a lot to remember and is pretty hard for them). If and when you're ready HERE is a place to get chords so that you can easily play on piano or guitar.
I’ve created some resources to go along with this song. I’ve come up with a PowerPoint to teach the song because I find with my English Language Learners that they really do benefit from an image that accompanies the words (especially with these hard, new vocabulary words). Below you'll see a sneak preview of some of the visuals that are included in the PowerPoint I made.
As I said earlier, this song makes so much more sense and is so much more memorable when you teach it as a story. Well, the idea that all of these odd components might come together doesn’t really make sense. The story I crafted and included in the TPT kit tries to fit together all of those odd elements (harem, witches, King) and really makes the experience less about just singing and more about storytelling, plot, and backstory. I know that my classroom teachers appreciate when I make a song into a story since they work so hard to get kids to understand plot, character, setting and so forth. I feel like the more we can do to create stories when singing songs the better! Crafting a backstory for this little ditty was a challenge, but it's helped out tremendously and my ELL students remember it so much better!
You can check out my Court of King Caratacus resources here.