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Over the years there has been an increase in the number of complex routines and clapping moves in the scope of playground games. Some of the most involved body percussion patterns involve 12 or more beats before repeating. The tune is sometimes repetitive from one rhyme to another, for example I Went to a Chinese Restaurant is sung to the same melody as A Sailor went to Sea, Sea, Sea. Counting rhymes like Eenie-Meanie Dessi-Meanie sound like jump rope rhymes like My Boyfriend Gave Me an Apple, which presents some overlap throughout the genre of schoolyard play.

Pop music has been influenced by clapping games directly as demonstrated in The Clapping Song, recorded by Shirley Ellis in 1965 which began with “3, 6, 9, the goose drank wine, the monkey chewed tobacco on the streetcar line.” Clapping games have exploded in popularity since the 1960s and can be traced all the way back to 1698 when Pat a Cake was first documented.

Nonsense, fun to say, rhyming words are frequently used in the songs and present the challenge of performing the chanting or singing while executing difficult synchronized movements with a partner, as quickly as you possibly can. Some clapping routines are easier to master than others and some have beginner and advanced modifications, depending on your region or when you were taught. Recent games seem to have simpler patterns than the games from just 3 decades ago.

These games are a link with the past, with the cultures of their parents and grandparents, though if you ask the kids playing them today, they may claim to have just made them up.

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Have we forgotten to include one of your favorite games? Did we miss a verse of a jump rope rhyme? Were the rules you played by different? Let us know!

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