Drinking Gourd Window Cut-Out

What You Need:

  • Black sheet of paper
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  • Window pane
  • Picture of the The Big Dipper or "The Drinking Gourd"

What You Do:

  1. Explain the story of the Drinking Gourd to your child and its importance in helping to direct the fleeing slaves to freedom. Then ask her to take a look at the picture of what this constellation looks like and remember it.
  2. Ask her to then take a sheet of black paper, which will represent the night sky, and help her punch out holes, representing the stars. Start with the "handle" of the gourd.
  3. Once your child has fully punched out her representation of the Drinking Gourd, help her tape this sheet of paper up to a window pane.
  4. When night falls, watch as the moonlight filters through the holes casting the light of little star holes through the black paper. Ask your child to envision herself as a runaway slave looking to these very same stars for guidance. You may also then want to take your child outside and see if the two of you can spot the true Drinking Gourd up in the night sky.

Did You Know:

  • At the time of the Underground Railroad, around the 1840's, American states were divided on the issue of slavery.
  • While many Northern states believed in freedom for the slaves, the Southern states were still very much for the free labor they were able to get for their crop fields. This division then gave fleeing slaves a goal to reach the Northern territories where they could live without masters. The network of the Underground Railroad was secretly created and along the way there were safe havens--homes or places that would hide these fleeing slaves as they made their journey. This song was created to help the fleeing slaves use the Drinking Gourd to find freedom.

The Drinking Gourd Song:

Follow the drinking gourd!

Follow the drinking gourd.

For the old man is a–waiting for to carry you to freedom 

If you follow the drinking gourd.


When the Sun comes back and the first quail calls

Follow the Drinking Gourd,

For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom

If you follow the Drinking Gourd.


The riverbank makes a very good road.

The dead trees will show you the way. 

Left foot, peg foot, traveling on,

Follow the Drinking Gourd.


The river ends between two hills

Follow the Drinking Gourd.

There’s another river on the other side

Follow the Drinking Gourd.


When the great big river meets the little river

Follow the Drinking Gourd.

For the old man is a-waiting for to carry to freedom

If you follow the Drinking Gourd.

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