Jumping rope, traditionally a game played exclusively by girls, dates back to the 19th century. Two players hold the ends of a rope and turn it in a circle. The rope can be either long or short. One can either purchase a rope with handles at each end, or simply use any strong rope or cord. When this author played jump rope as a child, we used a long rope and tied a loop at each end to help us hold the rope securely.

While the rope is turning, players jump without touching the rope or stopping it. Often, after a jump rope song ends, the jumper continues to jump while reciting numbers or repeating letters. Jumps become more complicated and varied as play continues and may include one or more of the following:

  • Single jumps
  • Double jumps
  • Backward jumps
  • Crossed-foot jumps
  • Hot pepper (2 times as fast)
  • Quarter turns, half turns, full turns
  • Two jumpers at a time
  • Two ropes at a time (Double Dutch)
  • Criss-cross (one person holds both ends of the rope and crosses their arms back and forth on alternate turns of the rope)

Jump rope chants, rhymes, and songs have passed down through generations orally. Many originally came from Germany and England. Some make little sense; this author admits liking the words and rhymes but being unaware of meanings when playing as a child. In this article you will find many familiar favorites, a few new ones, and some jump rope games. Have fun and share your love of jump rope with family and friends!

Jump Rope Rhymes

Jump Rope Rhymes

While a jumper jumps and says a jump rope rhyme, they must follow the directions within the rhyme. Frequently, when the rhyme ends, the jumper begins counting their jumps. The goal is to see how long one can jump without stopping the rope or touching it.

Teddy Bear

At the end of this jump rope rhyme, the jumper continues jumping with their eyes closed while the other players count the number of jumps. Closing one’s eyes makes jumping without touching the rope a challenge.

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!

Spanish Dancer

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 . . .

Miss Lucy

As each character in this jump rope song is named, another player joins the jumping. As each character leaves in the song, a jumper stops jumping.

Miss Lucy had a turtle.
She named him Tiny Tim.
She put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.

He drank up all the water.
He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub,
But it got stuck in his throat.

Miss Lucy called the doctor
The doctor called the nurse.
The nurse called the lady
With the alligator purse.

“Mumps” said the doctor.
“Measles” said the nurse.
“Nothing” said the woman
With the alligator purse.

Miss Lucy hit the doctor.
Miss Lucy slapped the nurse.
Miss Lucy paid the woman
With the alligator purse.

Out ran the doctor.
Out ran the nurse.
Out ran the lady
With the alligator purse.

Miss Mary Mack

“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high.
They reached the sky, sky, sky.
They never came back, back, back
Till the 4th of July, ly, ly!

Apples and Pears

I am not sure why kissing plays a part in jump rope rhymes and chants, but it seems to appear often.

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.

Jump Rope Chants

Jump Rope Chants

Jump rope chants are shorter than jump rope rhymes and frequently make little sense. The first two chants we have listed are sung to familiar songs and work well with very young children.

Jump a Rope

This chant is sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Each time the song is sung faster and the jumper must jump without missing a beat, touching, or stopping the rope.

Jump, jump, jump a rope,
Merrily in the spring.
Hop, hop on each foot,
As fast as you can sing.

Skipping Feet

Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” this jump rope chant is easy one to learn.

Skipping feet, skipping feet,
Skipping feet all day.
Oh what fun it is to skip,
The whole day away. Hey!”

I Like Coffee

The jumper inserts the name of a friend who they want to join them jumping. That friend invites another, and this continues until everyone is jumping.

I like coffee,
I like tea,
I’d like for _______
To come in with me.

Ice Cream Soda

When the jumper misses a jump, whatever letter they missed on is the first letter in the name of the jumper’s boyfriend.

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

Banana Split

Banana, banana
Banana split!
Mama bought
A newborn chick!

Chickie died.
Mama cried.
Banana, banana
Banana split!

Lady, Lady Touch the Ground

Here is another jump rope chant where the jumper must do the action suggested. At the end, when “skidoo” is said, the current jumper leaves the rope and a new jumper begins jumping.

Lady, lady, touch the ground,
Lady, lady, turn around.
Turn to the east, and turn to the west,
And choose the one you like the best.

Lady, lady, touch the ground,
Lady, lady, turn around.
Lady, lady show your shoe,
Lady, lady, now skidoo!

Jump rope chants are often personalized with the jumper’s name, a boyfriend, or another jumper inserted in the chant. The next three jump rope chants are examples of this personalization.


______ and ________
Sitting in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage.
Then comes _______
With a baby carriage.

Birthday Chant

There are two ways to use the Birthday Chant: 1) Everyone jumps together and says the names of the months. When a jumper’s birthday month is called they jump out. 2) Each player starts jumping when their birthday month is called out.

Apples, peaches, pears, and plums
Tell me when your birthday comes.

My Name Is

This chant reinforces the alphabet or adds a personal touch with the jumper’s name. Each jumper uses the next consecutive letter in the alphabet. It can be a challenge when you get to letters like w, x, y, and z.

A my name is Alice;
My husband’s name is Al;
We live in Alabama,
And we sell apples.

B my name is Barbara;
My husband’s name is Ben;
We live in Boston,
And we sell balloons.

Jump Rope Games

Jump Rope Games

Playing a variety of different jump rope games keep the kids jumping rope longer and makes jumping more fun. In addition to introducing some fun jump rope games, we have directions for single jumping, partner jumping, Double Dutch, and Chinese Jump Rope.

Single Player Jumping

Even a single kid can have fun with a jump rope attempting different types of jumps. Try one of the following jumps:

  • The Swing
    Jump and land on one foot, swinging the opposite leg to the side, then switch to the other foot and leg on next jump.
  • Scissors
    Jump and land with one foot forward, one back, then switch to the other foot on the next jump.
  • Criss-cross
    Jump and land with the feet crossed like an X, then jump and land with the feet apart, then jump with the feet crossed again.
  • Duck Jump
    Alternate jumping and landing with heels apart, toes and knees pointed in, then heels together and toes and knees pointed out.

Partner Jumping

Experienced jumpers will enjoy the challenge of jumping with a friend using a single-person rope. The trick is to turn the rope smoothly while jumping simultaneously. Try either of the following:

  • Stand face-to-face with one person holding both ends of the rope and swinging it.
  • Stand back-to-back with one person holding both ends of the rope.
  • Stand side-by-side with each person holding one end of the rope.

Double Dutch

Double Dutch requires more skill and is more challenging than ordinary jump rope, as it uses two ropes that are swung in opposite directions alternately. The swinging of the ropes can be as much of a challenge as the jumping! Once you have mastered having one person jump, increase the difficulty by having two or more jumpers.

Chinese Jump Rope

Chinese jump rope resembles a combination of hopscotch and jump rope. Two players stand with a 16 foot rope tied in a circle with the rope around their ankles. The rope must be taut. The jumper performs a series of moves of increasing complication without pausing or making an error. The rope is held about six inches above the ground and is raised as the jumper completes each move. If the jumper misses any move, they must start over.

  • First Move
    The jumper begins by standing with her side to the oval, putting one foot into the center, without touching either side of the rope, and touching the ground with her toe. The foot is moved and placed under the rope closest to the jumper and over the second side, so the first side of the rope crosses the second. This is repeated five time, sides are changed and the move is repeated five more times.
  • Second Move
    The rope is raised to the jumper’s knee level or just below it. The jumper begins by standing in the center of the oval, then jumps and lands with her feet outside on either side of the ropes. Then the jumper jumps again, bringing her feet back into the oval. This jump is repeated five times facing front, and five times facing back.
  • Third Move
    The rope is held so that one side is higher than the other. The jumper faces the rope, jumps over the lower side into the center, then over the higher side. This jump is repeated jumping backward over the rope. The front and back jumps are repeated five times, for a total of ten jumps.
  • Fourth Move
    This jump is the same as the First Move, only the move is done with the jumper’s hands instead of the feet.
  • Fifth Move
    Jump is the same as the Second Move, but the jumper touches the ground as she jumps.
  • Sixth Move
    Jump is the same as the Third Move, but with the hands touching the ground as she jumps.

The next two games we have listed work very well for beginning jumpers.


A jump rope game for young kids or beginners to learn how to time their jumps with the rope swings, with Snake, the rope stays on the ground. One player holds each end of the rope. Kids take turns trying to jump over it as it waves along the ground like a snake.


Begin by drawing a large circle, the diameter of which is twice the length of the rope) on the ground around the jumping area with chalk. One player stands in the middle with the rope while the other players stand at equal spaces on the chalked circle. The player in the middle swings the rope in higher and higher circles while chanting:

Helicopter, helicopter over my head,
I choose a color and the color is _________.

At this point, the player swinging the rope begins swinging it along the ground. Any player wearing the color called out moves in and attempts to jump over the rope. The chant is repeated and players keep joining the jumping. If anyone misses or the rope touches a player, the player causing the game to stop takes the place in the middle and play continues.


Two skilled twirlers can prolong this jump rope game for many players. Line your players up or number them so everyone knows when it is their turn. Each time the rope hits the ground, another player begins jumping. The game ends when a jumper misses their turn or stops the rope.

Water Splash

A cooling game on a hot day, make sure kids play this one outside. Two players turn the rope while those jumping take turns jumping with a plastic cup of water. Sing or say a jump rope rhyme or count to ten while each player jumps. The jumper with the most water left in their cup wins this game.

Jump Rope Relay

If you have many jumpers, try dividing them into teams for a jump rope relax race. You will need two single-jumper jump ropes. Divide your players into two or more teams with an equal number of jumpers. Try one of the following ideas for relay-race fun:

  • Divide each team in two and line half of the kids at the start line and half at the finish line. Kids jump their way to a finish line and hand the rope to their team mate who jumps back to the start line.
  • Each team member jumps to the finish line and back to the start line before handing over the rope to a team mate.
  • Incorporate other types of jumps, such as jumping on either the right or left leg. (See the jumps listed under “Single Player Jumping” in this article)

Banana Split

When the kids get tired of jumping, they can take a bit of a break with this game. Two people swing a long rope toward a line of kids and then away. The first person in line runs under the rope and then back, without touching or being touched by the rope. Then the second runner joins the first and they run under the rope. Each time the rope turns toward the line, another kid joins and runs. If the rope touches anyone or a player does not make it back and forth, play starts again.

Cat and Mouse

You need four players for this fun game. If you have more than four players, kids can take turns. Two kids twirl the rope, one is the cat, and one is the mouse. The mouse does the rope jumping, jumping once, running around one of the twirlers, jumping again, and then running around the other twirler. The cat chases the mouse, following the same path, after the mouse gets a one-jump head start. The cat attempts to tag the mouse and if successful, the mouse becomes the cat and begins the chase again.

The Benefits of Jump Songs

Jump rope songs are not only fun, but provide benefits, such as:

  • Coordination
    The steady, regular cadence of the jump rope and accompanying song helps develop coordination between a child’s eyes, hands, and feet.
  • Nervous system communication
    The motor patterns kids learn with jump rope improves overall cognitive function.
  • Creative thinking
    The images created by some of the relatively nonsensical jump rope songs build creativity.
  • Physical Strength
    Repeated jump rope activity with chants and songs helps build foot and leg strength and physical stamina.

Jumping or skipping rope is fun, especially when accompanied by songs, chants, and rhymes. Encourage your jumpers to make up their own fun ways to challenge each other. Rope jumping is not only for kids, and starting children early can build a life-long love for this strength building exercise. Jump rope songs can encourage longer play and increase the enjoyment of this fun pastime. Jump away!