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Games Kids Play, Clapping Games, Jump Rope Rhymes and Playground Songs

Playground games and jump rope songs are some of the most fun things I remember from when I was a kid. Decades later I can chant along and perform complex clapping patterns with friends who share those memories with me. The characters and tunes stay with you and when you least expect it, Ms. Lucy and her Steamboat and Miss Mary Mack are playing Down in the Valley while Cinderella Dressed in Yellow turns around with teddy bears.

These games, songs and clapping patterns have been passed from grade to grade, from kid to kid, camp to camp and school to school for generations. Some are regional favorites, but many are wide spread and can be heard on playgrounds throughout the United States. Share your favorites with us, and if you can have someone take a quick video while you show us how it's done. I hope you enjoy this collection of kids games and childhood fun!

recess games from school

Thumb Wrestling

Two players, both either using their left hands or their right hands, hold hands by hooking their four fingers together and closing their hands into fists with their thumbs pointing up to the ceiling. Both players say the following chant together and for each word said, tap your thumb on alternating sides of your interlocked…

A my name is Alice

Kids sit in a circle, Indian style, and start a clapping pattern. Both hands slap knees, cross to tap shoulders, clap together, shoulders, knees, shoulders, together, etc. The person who is “it” goes first. Speaking to the rhythm of the clapping of the group, start with the letter A and choose a girl’s name, boy’s…