Old-Fashioned Jump Rope Songs and Rhymes

Jumping rope is good, old-fashioned fun, easy to do, and great exercise for adults and kids alike. Make "old fun" new again by teaching kids entertaining jump rope games they can add to their roster of playground activities. All you need is a jump rope and three or more participants. Even better, they can also sing the rhymes while doing other physical activities aside from jumping rope, if desired.

Most of the time, when a rhyme is completed, the counting begins. The rope can be swung at regular speed or cranked up to "hot pepper" (where you start swinging the rope overhead). Continue the counting and jumping until the person makes a misstep or wants to stop. Try out the different options below and/or experiment to come up with your family's own routine of jump rope moves and personalized rhymes.


Down in the Valley

Children jumping rope in forest
PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

This rhyme begins with the rope being swung back and forth instead of overhead. That makes it an easy rhyme for beginning jumpers like preschoolers. When the counting part begins, the rope is swung overhead.

Down in the valley
Where the green grass grows,
There sat Janey
Sweet as a rose.
Along came Johnny
And kissed her on the cheek.
How many kisses
Did she get this week?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...



This is possibly the best known of all jump rope rhymes. Like the majority of these rhymes, it includes kissing. Begin in the same way as the above song by swinging the rope back and forth until the counting starts. Then, start swinging the rope overhead as well.

Cinderella, dressed in yellow
Went upstairs to kiss her fellow
Made a mistake
And kissed a snake
How many doctors
Did it take?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...


Apples and Pears

Kids seem to find this one super fun (especially the kicking part). Jump along with the chant and begin swinging overhead once you get to the counting.

Johnny gave me apples,
Johnny gave me pears.
Johnny gave me 50 cents
To kiss him on the stairs.

I gave him back his apples,
I gave him back his pears.
I gave him back his 50 cents
And kicked him down the stairs.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...



This is another well-known classic. Many of these rhymes call for the name of the jumper to be inserted, along with the name of their sweetheart, so substitute the kids' names for Janey or Johnny.

Janey and Johnny
Sitting in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage
Then comes Janey
With a baby carriage.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...


I Like Coffee

In this rhyme, the first jumper inserts the name of a friend they want to join them in jumping. That friend "runs in," which involves joining the jumper while the rope is still turning. Then that friend inserts the name of another friend, continuing until everyone (except those turning the rope) is jumping.

This game is popular on school playgrounds but works well at gatherings of kids or family reunions. It is best for more experienced jumpers as "jumping in" takes skill and practice.

I like coffee,
I like tea,
I'd like for Janey
To come in with me.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...


Ice Cream Soda

In this rhyme, the first letter of the jumper's sweetheart's name is supposed to be indicated by the letter that the jumper misses on. (Instead of counting, say the alphabet.)

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


Teddy Bear

While jumping to this rhyme, jumpers must mime the actions mentioned (turning around, touching the ground, and so on).

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

In this rhyme, as in "Teddy Bear," the jumper must perform the actions called for. The splits are just a wide-legged jump. At the end of the rhyme, the jumper must jump with eyes closed while the other kids count. 

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

This is a humorous rhyme that kids find rather scandalous. (That's probably why they like it so much.) The words are also used in traditional hand-clapping games. It has also been set to music.

Like "I Like Coffee," this rhyme also involves extra jumpers coming in and going out.

Miss Lucy had a baby.
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
(Second jumper comes in.)
The doctor called the nurse.
(Third jumper comes in.)
The nurse called the lady
With the alligator purse.
(Fourth jumper comes in.)

"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.
(Extra jumpers exit.)

By Susan Adcox
Susan Adcox is a writer covering grandparenting and author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.