Saturday Morning Cereal: Fourth Bowl

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (depending on who you ask and how good your memory is) a crazy creative classroom convened on Saturday mornings. Lessons were short and sweet and silly -- never subversive. The school rules were fast and loose -- pajamas were totally acceptable attire and eating during class was not only permitted, but encouraged. The best part -- we were happy to attend.

And betcha you still remember stuff you learned... like the function of a conjunction. Or how a bill becomes a law.

Schoolhouse Rock. Setting learning to music and kooky cartoons.

In the early 1970s, advertising executive David McCall was concerned that his then 11-year-old son was having trouble memorizing his multiplication tables -- but he also observed that his son knew all the words to every rock song on the radio. To McCall, the solution seemed obvious: why not marry pop music with information kids needed to learn?

And the rest, as they say, is television -- and educational -- history. Schoolhouse Rock was born. McCall worked with his ad agency's creative directors, George Newall and Tom Yohe, on scripts and storyboards. They hired jazz pianist Bob Dorough to compose a song based on the multiplication tables, and the result was "Three Is a Magic Number." The trio took the concept to then-head of ABC Children's programming Michael Eisner (yep, that Michael Eisner) who snapped it up and asked for more.

Kids soon began singing along to favorites like "Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?" and "Interplanet Janet" -- and in the process learned about everything from how a bill becomes a law to how the body's circulatory system works.

Schoolhouse Rock originally aired on the ABC Television Network from 1973 to 1985. This classic series of three-minute educational vignettes combined animation, hip music, and catchy lyrics to tackle lessons in American history, the rules of grammar, multiplication tables, science, government, and finance. Its toe-tapping lyrics entered a generation's lexicon and, four Emmy Awards later, its melodies are still a pop-culture frame of reference common to an astounding number of under-30 Americans (From ABC Classroom Connection--Summer 1995)

So here’s a little refresher course for y’all -- and it’s just for fun. No pop quiz at the end. Promise.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Conjunction Junction

Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here


Interplanet Janet

Time for Timer (not technically part of Schoolhouse Rock, but also ran around the same time period)

Three is a Magic Number


80s Queen said...

I've got these all on videos and my kids love them. (Why don't they play them on tv anymore??) My kids are impressed that I know all the songs. Conjunction Junction is a great song to sing while on a road trip. And if I start singing "a man and a woman had a little baby, yes they did, they had threeeee in the family, that's a magic number" I will be singing it all day. DARN, that's the end.

Crystal said...

I don't remember really watching the original Schoolhouse Rock on tv, but I can still do all the words to the Time for Timer bit.

I do however know most of the Schoolhouse Rock songs because I picked up the Schoolhouse Rocks cd years ago with all the best songs done by punk/rock/alternative bands. That's a fun listen :)

TopSurf said...

OMG! Can this breakfast get any better? Every week when I read these posts I think, how is she going to top this one? Congrats because you just did! Love me some school house rock!

Miss Attitude said...

What a fun start to this Saturday! I loved "I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill"
Can I use some of these to teach college students?

Sherrie said...

I have CDs and DVDs of Schoolhouse Rock at the library that I work in, the kids have never seen them on TV but they love them!

Anonymous said...

I still have Multiplication Rock and History Rock on vinyl. Schoolhouse Rock was a big part of my childhood. I still sing the times tables!

Three is a magic number.

Why, it's Clark! said...

I know all the words to Timer's cheese rap, much to the horror of those close to me (I usally lose them for good at "slab or slice or chunk of...")

Jeff said...

Love them! So seventies in graphic design, and great lyrics. Do you remember "Unpack your Adjectives" with Blossom Dearie?

April said...

My sis was a big Schoolhouse Rock fan. I'm just a couple of years too young to remember it, but I've added it to the girls' Netflix queue.

80s Queen said...

Jeff, was that - he was a hairy bear, he was a scary bear...?

Malcolm said...

Although it's way past Saturday morning, I figured it was a good time to stop by (since the Detroit Lions are getting pounded). My favorites are "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly...", "Interjections!", "Verb: That's What's Happening", and "A Noun Is A Person, Place Or Thing". I have the latter song on a 70s mix CD I made and will often hit repeat and listen to it several times in a row.

perpstu said...

I miss Schoolhouse Rock! We have them all on tape somewhere, I should drag them out and get LW dancing and singing with me!

Happy weekend! XOXO

Miss Janey said...

Great post. Shoolhouse Rock rules! What made them so memorable was the songs were set to great music. Miss J would sing them all day after seeing them and still knows the words.