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The Grand Old Duke of York

Oh, the Grand Old Duke of York

He had ten thousand men,

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And he marched them down again.

And when they were up they were up

And when they were down they were down.

And when they were only half way up

They were neither up nor down.


French Knitting Soldiers

Make Soldier Skittles

The Grand Old Duke of York Picture to Colour

Fun Facts, Links and more Activities

The Grand Old Duke of York       
French Knitting

Who needs loom bands. Much safer
and just as flexible with these soldiers you can
make jewellery, bags, soft toys the options
are limitless!

Download button for colour PDF template

The Grand Old Duke of York       
Soldier Skittles

Make these skittles and have hours of
fun out of them.

Download button for colour PDF template

The Grand old Duke of York       

Print out the picture and colour in the soldier.

Download button for black and white PDF template
Make a French Knitter Soldier for The Grand Old Duke of York Nursery Rhyme
Skittles Activity for The Grand Old Duke of York Nursery Rhyme
Picture for The Grand Old Duke of York Nursery Rhyme

Fun Facts, Links and even more Activities!

  • Play musical soldiers. If you have several children they can march around to some marching music (Clips of marching music can be found and played at when the marching music stops they have to stay upright and still like a soldier on guard.
  • Although the poem sounds like the soldiers do not know where they are going the nursery rhyme is most likely just describing the soldiers riding over the hill. You can draw a quick hill on a piece of paper for your child to look at. Show your child what going up a hill means and what going down the hill, and in between means. Then when singing the nursery rhyme you can march up and down the hill together. When the soldiers are up stand up straight. When the soldiers are down, sit down. When the soldiers are only half way up, crouch down. Once the nursery rhyme has stopped you could carry on saying up, up, down, halfway, down, up ... The first one to get it wrong is out!
  • The tall black furry hats that the soldiers wear are called bearskins and are really made out of bear skins as no suitable alternative has yet to be found. Although they are only used now for ceremonial purposes they were first used by the Grenadier Guards supposedly to make them appear bigger and give them a more impressive appearance on the parade ground and battlefield.
  • The Tin Soldier is the classic but be warned it is the ultimately tragic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen.

  • Although it is not certain where the Grand Old Duke of York poem originated from it was certainly not originally about the Duke of York as the oldest version found is from 1642 about the King of France. The Grand Old Duke of York version was adapted far later on by someone who obviously wasn't a fan. Although we are still not sure which Duke of York the nursery rhyme refers to, the most popular candidate is Frederick Duke of York who was the second and most popular son of King George III of the United Kingdom. Frederick Duke of York was suffered set various setbacks during his military career mainly due to the young age at which he was appointed and the poor state of the British Army at that time but regardless of that he was generally well liked. Frederick Duke of York was colonel of the Horse Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards. He was also the uncle of Queen Victoria.

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