Skipping rhymes

Skipping games and rhymes have been played for hundreds of years. Records show boys were jumping rope in the 17th century. However, at the time it was considered indecent for girls because they might show their ankles! This changed in the early 18th century when girls began to jump rope. Around this time rhymes or chants were added to the game.

Skipping rhymes and games were popular throughout the 20th century and to a lesser extent are still played today. The rhymes are interesting as they can almost be like ‘Chinese whispers’ changing slightly over time and often specific to local areas.

 Many of the traditional or common rhymes are sexist or stereotypical in their nature and it is debateable which ones are suitable as a positive example for children today. However they are part of our history. We have included a selection below.

Traditionally these games would be played with a long rope around 4 metres long with a rope turner at each end. Children take it in turns to skip, skipping until they missed. Rhymes and games develop with the expertise of the skippers, often getting faster or more complex to keep the turns flowing.

Did you skip? What rhymes do you remember? Did you sing any of these?

General skipping rhymes:


Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, show your shoe,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, that will do!

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, do high kicks,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, do the splits

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, climb the stairs,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say your prayers,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn out the lights,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say good-night!

Who will I marry?

Who will I marry?

Rich man, poor man, beggar, thief

What will my dress be?

Silk, satin, muslin, rags,

How will I get to church?

Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, dustcart

What will my ring be?

Gold, silver, copper, brass,

Bungalow, flat, mansion, pigsty

How many children will we have?

1,2,3,4,5 FASTER!

Bumper Car

Bumper car, bumper car,

Number 28,

Went round the corner

(skipper runs round back of one rope turner)

And slammed on the brakes!

(skipper returns to rope and tries to land feet on rope as call “brakes”)

Angel, Apple, Lemon Tart

Angel, Apple, lemon tart,

Tell me the name of your sweetheart

A,B,C,D…….. (choose name beginning with letter lands on)

Will you get married, yes no, maybe so (repeat until landed)

Not Last Night

Not last night but the night before

Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door

They called me out for the world to see

And this is what they said to me

“Spanish dancer turn around

Spanish dancer touch the ground

Spanish dancer do the kicks

Spanish dancer do the splits

(the skipper should do each of the commands whilst skipping, the splits

more of a V than splits!)

Counting Rhymes:

Mrs Pink

Mrs Pink fell in the sink

How many litres did she drink?

1,2,3,4, (faster)

Eggy Peggy

Eggy Peggy

Lost her leggy

Sliding down a chucky eggy

How many eggs did she smash?



Cinderella dressed in yellow, went upstairs (or downstairs) to kiss her fellow, by mistake kissed a snake, how many doctors will it take? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 etc. (Go to 20 then go down to the next line)

 Cinderella dressed in blue, went upstairs to tie her shoe, made a mistake and tied a knot, how many knots will she make? 1, 2, 3, etc.

 Cinderella dressed in green, went downtown to buy a ring, made a mistake and bought a fake, how many days before it breaks? 1, 2, 3, etc.

 Cinderella dressed in lace, went upstairs to fix her face, oh no oh no, she found a blemish, how many powder puffs till she's finished? 1, 2, 3, etc.

 Cinderella dressed in silk, went outside to get some milk, made a mistake and fell in the lake, how many more till she gets a break? 1, 2, 3, etc.


The counting continues as long as the jumper avoids faulting. If they do then the counting starts again(1)

Group or couple skipping rhymes:

Someone under the bed

There’s someone under the bed

Whoever can it be?

I feel really frightened

So ‘X’ comes in with me

First we light the candle

Then we look and see

Oh ‘Z’ go out, ‘Z’ go out

And leave the rest to me

(Rhyme continues, children take turns)

When it’s your birthday

All in together kids

Never mind the weather kids

When it’s your birthday please jump in!

January, February, March, April, June… etc

(children jump in as month of birthday called)

All in together kids

Never mind the weather kids

When it’s your birthday please jump out!

January, February, March, April, May June… etc

(children jump out as month of birthday called)

Two Little Sausages

Two little sausages frying in the pan (two children skip together)

One went POP and the other went BANG!

(One jumps out one side, the other skipper on the other side)

Postman’s knock

Every Morning at 8 o’clock

You can hear the postman’s knock

1-2-3-4 there goes (x name) out the door

(named person jumps out, next in line jumps in)

House to let

House to let, apply within

When Josh goes out

Ava comes in

(insert children’s names, continue taking turns)

I like coffee

I like coffee, I like tea,

I like ‘X name’ skipping with me

I don’t like coffee, I don’t like tea,

‘Y name’ can skip with ‘X name’

So out with me!

Back to back

Back to back

Face to face

Shake your partners hand

And change your place

(2 skippers, follow moves and repeat)

Other Skipping Games:


For younger children, or those new to skipping

One of the rope holders thinks of a colour

Instead of turning the rope it is wiggled side to side

The players jump over the low rope and call out a colour

When the correct colour is guessed they take a turn at holding the rope and choosing a colour for the other players to guess

One In One Out

A group game for more experienced skippers and good for playing with large groups so everyone is active in the game. Also a good way to practice for some of the jumping in and out rhymes above.

As the rope is turned each player in turn runs in, skips once, and runs out to join the back of the line of skippers

If they complete 1 skip the next time they skip 2 times before running out, if they do not complete 1 skip they remain on 1 skip, moving to the next number once successful. If desired you can add the challenge of who can reach 10 skips first, or just play for fun!