Remember the jump rope songs we sang and skipped to?

Skipping rope
Children skipping rope outside a home in New South Wales, Australia, in 1965. Image: National Archive of Australia / Australian News and Information Bureau, photographer, J Fitzpatrick

Skipping with a rope has been a practiced all over the world for centuries. Sticks and vines were used in the earlier days but the singing games of jump rope originated in the Netherlands around the 1600s.

It’s where the name double dutch comes from, when Dutch immigrants in the US played the game, singing songs in Dutch and skipping with two ropes. Did you know it was a derogatory term at the time?

Then in the 40s and 50s jump rope was all the rage all over the US and spreading other countries, including England and Australia. Some played using their mothers’ clotheslines, others with rope, but the game definitely overtook many playgrounds and school yards during recess times.

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Do you remember the various songs you sang and games you played while skipping? Here’s a few that might jog your memory. 

Blue Bells, Cockle Shells

Blue Bells, cockle shells
Easy ivy over
(This started with a rope swung from side to side, then on ‘over’ the rope was turned overhead to begin the jump rope swing.)

Teddy Bear

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(actions to be performed while skipping)

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!  (jumping out)

Two Little Dickie Birds

(this requires two jumpers, one ‘Peter’, one ‘Paul’).

Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall
One named Peter (Peter jumps in)
One named Paul (Paul jumps in)
Fly away Peter (Peter jumps out)
Fly away Paul (Paul jumps out)

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While jump rope is probably not something you can do so well these days, either physically or bladder control related, it’s something you can still introduce the grandkids too. You could still swing the rope for them too, and sing up some memories. 

Did you play jump rope in your youth?