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Old-Fashioned Jump Rope Rhymes

Classic Verses Retain Their Charm


If you're a grandparent, you may remember these classic jump rope rhymes, although your versions may have been slightly different. Many times the rhymes called for the name of the jumper to be inserted, along with the name of his or her sweetheart. I've used Janey and Johnny in these places. Most of the time, when the rhyme was completed, the counting began. Sometimes the jumper was allowed to continue jumping at regular speed, and sometimes the ones turning the rope speeded up to "hot pepper." Isn't it interesting how many of the rhymes include kissing?

This is one in a series of old-fashioned games for kids.

1. Cinderella

jump rope rhymes
Photo © Cuellar via Photopin cc

This is possibly the best known of all jump rope rhymes.

Cinderella, dressed in yellow
Went upstairs to kiss her fellow
Made a mistake
And kissed a snake
How many doctors
Did it take?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

2. Down in the Valley

Photo © Mel Yates / Getty

This rhyme begins with the rope being swung back and forth instead of overhead. When the counting part begins, the rope is swung overhead.

Down in the valley
Where the green grass grows,
There sat Janey
Sweet as a rose.
Along came Johnny
And kissed her on the cheek.
How many kisses
Did she get this week?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

3. K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Get a good photograph of a grandchild by getting low and having the grandchild jump for you.
Photo © S. Adcox

This is another well-known classic.

Janey and Johnny
Sitting in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage
Then comes Janey
With a baby carriage.

4. Teddy Bear

While jumping to this rhyme, jumpers must perform the actions mentioned.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Touch your shoe.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
That will do.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Say good night!

5. Spanish Dancer

In this rhyme as in "Teddy Bear," the jumper must perform the actions called for. The splits are just a wide-legged jump. At the end, the jumper must jump with eyes closed while the other kids count.

Not last night but the night before,
Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door
I asked them what they wanted,
And this is what they said:
Spanish Dancer, do the splits,
Spanish Dancer, do the twist,
Spanish Dancer, turn around
Spanish Dancer, touch the ground,
Spanish Dancer, go out the back
Spanish Dancer, please come back.
Spanish Dancer, read a book.
Spanish Dancer, do not look.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

6. I Like Coffee

In this rhyme, the first jumper inserts the name of a friend she wants to join her in jumping. Then that friend inserts the name of another friend, who also joins them in jumping. The game continues until the group is too large to fit or until everyone is jumping.

I like coffee,
I like tea,
I'd like for Janey
To come in with me.

7. School

I don't remember a rhyme associated with this jump rope game. The ones who were turning the rope called out "Kindergarten," and everyone had to run through the rope without being hit. Then they called out "First Grade," and everyone had to run in, jump once, and run out. The game continued through 12th grade. Sometimes we played that if you missed, you had to start over with kindergarten. Sometimes we played that when you missed, you were out, and the winner was the one who progressed the farthest.

8. Ice Cream Soda

In this rhyme, the jumper's sweetheart is supposed to be indicated by the letter that the jumper misses on.

Ice cream soda,
Lemonade punch.
Tell me the name
Of my honey-bunch.
A, B, C, D, E . . . .

9. Apples and Pears

I'm not sure why we found this rhyme so much fun. Maybe it was an early appeal to our sense of female empowerment.

Johnny gave me apples,
Johnny gave me pears.
Johnny gave me fifty cents
To kiss him on the stairs.

I gave him back his apples,
I gave him back his pears.
I gave him back his fifty cents
And kicked him down the stairs.

10. I Had a Little Sports Car

In this rhyme, on the stretched-out word "cor-ner," the jumper runs out of the rope, around one of the turners, and back in. At the end, the answer to the question is determined by which word the jumper misses on.

I had a little sports car,
A two-forty-eight,
I drove around the cor-ner
and slammed on the brakes.
When the policeman caught me
He put me on his knee,
And asked me a question:
Will you marry me?
Yes, No, Maybe So, Certainly. . . .

More Old-Fashioned Fun

Share classic folk songs or timeless children's poetry with the grands. Looking for something else active? Try these old-fashioned ball games or classic outdoor games like Swing the Statue.

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