Charlie Over the Ocean

Movement Song

This song is a sequencing game focused on turn-taking and leadership.  It is great for developing confidence, independence, and learning to follow rules in a safe and fun way. In order to control waiting times for turn-taking, it is better to play this game in groups of ten or less.

Movement songs are a great way to encourage exploratory movement and they promote confidence-building by incorporating children’s ideas into activities. They also provide an excellent opportunity to practise more advanced physical development such as balancing, speed and spatial awareness in a controlled environment.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

– Making Relationships

– Self-confidence & Self-awareness

– Managing feelings and behaviour


A large space, big enough to accommodate a circle, with room for two children to run on the outside of this circle.


Charlie over the ocean (Leader’s call)
Charlie over the ocean (Group response)

Charlie over the sea (call)
Charlie over the sea (response)

Charlie caught a big fish (call)
Charlie caught a big fish (response)

You can’t catch me (call)
You can’t catch me (response)

13-1 Charlie Over the Ocean - Full Song

How to...
Step by step

1.Sit the children a circle and teach the song by singing it line by line, asking them to repeat each line. Think of actions for each line, as this will help them to remember the words and keep the children occupied when they have to wait a while for their turn;

3.Pick one child to be the leader - ‘Charlie’. Accompany the child as they walk round the outside of the circle, and help them with the words to the song. Encourage the leader to call and the rest of the children to respond, repeating the line the leader has just sung;

5.To keep it fair, try to ensure that different children are ‘tagged’ each time, and discuss with the group why this is important.

2.Explain that the group will be learning a game that involves chasing, and start a discussion about safe ways of doing this so that no-one gets hurt;

4.When the group is confident with this, move on to the next part of the game, where the leader taps another child on the shoulder after the line ‘You can’t catch me.’ On this cue, the child that is tapped should chase ‘Charlie’ round the circle, and ‘Charlie’ must attempt to make it back to their place in the circle before being caught. If they are caught before returning, they must remain as ‘Charlie’ for another round. If they make it back in time, the child they tagged will now become ‘Charlie’, and the game can be repeated;

Extension & Development

1.To keep the children occupied and engaged as they wait for their turn as ‘Charlie’, suggest that they change the lyrics to the song, and instead of using the name ‘Charlie’, ask the leader to use their own name.

13-2 Charlie Over the Ocean - Additional Lyrics

2.When the children are very confident with the rules, the game can be played in two small groups, with a minimum of 5 in each. Ensure that one child in each group is in charge of ensuring the game runs smoothly and fairly, while you oversee both groups. In addition to reducing waiting times, this method could also give the children a heightened sense of independence.


Early Learning Goals

Activity Contribution to Goals

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making Relationships

1. Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others.

2. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity.

3. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

The game is based on turn-taking and the leader is encouraged to pick a different child to take part each time;

The children are held responsible for thinking about how to keep the game fair, and ensuring that everyone involved is picked to be the leader.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Self-confidence and self-awareness

1.  Children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others.

2.  They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities.

3. They say when they do or don’t need help.

The game requires the leader to both sing alone and walk independently around the circle.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Managing feelings and behaviour

1.  Children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable.

2.  They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules.

3. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.

The children are supported in learning to wait for a non-specified length of time for their turn.