Remember playing those hand clapping games?

Do you remember playing hand clapping games like these Nauru school children in 1965? Source: National Archives of Australia.

Hand clapping games have been a part of our playgrounds for decades.

It was in the 1960s they first found popularity, starting in England and soon spreading around the world.

The best part is you didn’t need any equipment to play with, just a willing partner to join in the fun.

Accompanied by songs, with varying hand actions to go with them, one of the best parts is you can do it at any age. Why not give these a go with the grandkids?

Read more: Remember marbles? Test your skills with the grandkids

If you can’t remember what to do, this might jog your memory.

Basic hand clap

Two people face each other. 

Each person starts with right hand, palm facing out. 

Clap hands with the other person, then clap hands with yourself, then clap hands with the left hand with the other person.

Repeat for the length of the song. 


Two people face each other.

Both players put their right hands up, palms up and left hands down, palms up.

Bring your right hands down, left hands up at the same time, clapping against your partner as they do the same.

Switch hands and repeat, with right hand up and left hand down.

Clap hands again against your partner, palms straight on.

Clap your own hands together.

Start from the beginning until the whole song in done.

Here’s the lyrics to one of the popular clapping game chants.

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 fifty cents, cents, cents

To see the elephants, elephants, elephants

Jump the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high

they reached the sky, sky, sky

And didn’t come back, back, back

Till the 4th of July, ly, ly!

Did you play these games? If so, what songs did you sing?        

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