Jump Rope Games and Activities for Kids

Skipping rope is an excellent form of exercise and a fun way for kids to get creative while they move. Jumping rope can be a good solo activity or a fun game with friends. Jump rope games are great because they don't require a lot of expensive equipment or space, and they're appropriate for children of all skill levels and abilities.

Young family jumping rope joyfully on the lawn
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Here are a few of our favorite jump rope games to get kids moving and having fun!

Single-Rope Skills

For kids playing alone, a jump rope is a great toy to get active. Challenge your child to learn some of the basic jumping skills, such as:

  • Scissor jumps: Land with one foot forward, then on the next jump switch feet.
  • Cross jumps: Land with feet crossed like an X, then apart, then crossed again.
  • Duckie: Land with heels apart, toes and knees pointed in; then on next jump, put heels together and toes and knees pointed out.
  • Swing: Land on one foot and swing the opposite leg out to the side, then switch on next jump.

Jump Rope Rhymes

If you have a small group of kids and a big rope, jump rope rhymes are usually a hit. Classics like "Cinderella" and "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" are easy to learn and add some fun variety to your jump rope games. Their simple language and repetition makes them easy for little ones to practice memorization, vocabulary, and counting skills too!

Some popular jump rope rhymes go all the way back to Victorian times when children in the United States, England, and Ireland made up catchy rhymes based on current events, local gossip, and things they overheard their parents and other adults discussing.

Snake

Snake is a good jump rope game for beginners or younger kids who have trouble timing their jumps with a swinging rope. For Snake, the rope stays on the ground.

Have one person hold it at each end and wave it gently along the ground like a slithering snake, while other players attempt to jump over it. Take turns being the jumper and the snake-mover.

Banana Split

This jump rope game doesn't actually involve jumping—but players do have to pay attention to the timing of the swinging rope. You need a long rope and two people to turn it.

The remaining players form a single-file line so that the first person in line is facing the rope. The turners swing the rope forward toward the line, then away.

As they do so, the first player must run under the rope and back without touching the rope or letting it touch them. After one pass, the second person in line joins in and both players run under the rope.

Then three runners go together, and so on. If anyone touches the rope or doesn't make it back and forth in time, start again with one player running.

Partner Jumping

Double the fun by trying to jump with a partner using a single-person rope. Try face-to-face (with one person holding both ends of the rope) or side-by-side (each person holds one end or handle of the rope).

To make it more of a game, the person holding the rope can speed up or slow down while the other player tries to match their rhythm. If they can't keep up, they are out. If both jumpers are more skilled, one can start jumping while holding the rope. The other person can jump in and out completely, all while the rope continues moving.

Helicopter

To play this game, you need a group of kids, a long rope, and sidewalk chalk. Make a large circle on the ground (its diameter should be twice the length of your rope) and mark a spot for each player around the end of the circle.

One player stands in the middle while the rest stay in their spots around the edges. This central player holds the rope up high and swings it in a circle while saying: "Helicopter, helicopter over my head, I choose a color and the color is... "

Once the central player names a color, they rotate the rope along the ground. When the other players hear the color name, anyone who is wearing that color steps forward and tries to jump over the rope. If anyone steps on the rope, the central player starts over.

Water Splash

Play this one outside! While two friends turn a jump rope, each player must jump while holding a clear plastic cup of water.

They must jump for a predetermined amount of time, ​the number of jumps, or as long as it takes to recite a rhyme or sing a song (like "Happy Birthday," if you're playing at a birthday party for example). After everyone has had a turn to jump, the winner is the player with the most water remaining in their cup.

Jump Rope Relay

Have kids jump their way to the finish line for a simple relay race. Or, incorporate jumping as one leg of a multi-step race. Each station can involve a certain jump rope trick or challenge. Players cannot move onto the next leg of the race until they've successfully completed that step.

Stack-Up

Similar to Banana Split, above, you'll need a long rope and a good-sized group for this game. It's simple: Each time the rope twirls, another person joins in the jumping.

So you start with one jumper, then two, and so on, until the chain is broken and there's a missed jump. (Some skilled twirling will help prolong the game by making it easier for new players to join in.)

Cat and Mouse

You need at least four players for this game: two rope-twirlers, a cat, and a mouse. The mouse must jump over the rope, run around one twirler, jump again, run around the other twirler and repeat (this will make a figure-eight pattern).

Meanwhile, the cat is doing the same while chasing the mouse and trying to tag him. Give the mouse a one-jump head start. When the cat tags the mouse, rotate positions and play again.

Competitive Jumping

If your child loves jumping rope, they can join a competitive team and participate in individual and group routines, including freestyle and double-dutch. Check with local schools, recreational centers, and gyms to find a jump rope club or team in your area. Parents and kids can even start their own if one isn't available!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How old do kids need to be to learn to jump rope?

    Children as young as age 3 can begin learning the motions of swinging a jump rope and jumping at the right time. Around the ages of 5 and 6, most kids can swing the jump rope and successfully skip over it several times in a row.

  • How do you teach kids to jump rope?

    To teach children how to skip rope, start by giving them the rope to hold by the handles, one in each hand. Next, they can hold the rope out in front of their body and step over it.

    Once they get that part down, they can start to swing the jump rope over their head slowly and let it hit the floor. Finally, they can start jumping over the rope each time it circles around.

    Teach children to wait until the rope hits the floor before they jump. Some do so while it's in the air, which can cause them to lose their balance and possibly trip. If children have any trouble skipping over the rope, they can keep stepping over it until they are ready to jump.

  • What length should a jump rope be for kids?

    To make sure the jump rope is the right length for a child, have them stand on the rope, directly in the center. They should pull it tightly upward. Both ends (not including the handles) should reach their armpits.

    If you're ordering a jump rope online, just add 3 feet to the child's height. If the jump rope drags on the ground when jumping, it's probably too long. If it hits the child's ankles or feet, it's too short.

  • Where do you buy a jump rope for kids?

    Kids' jump ropes are widely available at brick-and-mortar and online sporting goods stores, toy stores, and well-known general merchandise retailers.

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  1. Hernandez BLM, Gober D, Boatwright D, Strickland G. Jump rope skills for fun and fitness in grades K-12Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 2009;80(7):15-41. doi:10.1080/07303084.2009.10598352