Old-Fashioned Jump Rope Rhymes

Classic Verses Retain Their Charm

Cuellar via Photopin CC

If you're a grandparent, you may remember these classic jump rope rhymes, although your versions may have been slightly different. Most of the time, when the rhyme was completed, the counting began. Sometimes the jumper was allowed to continue jumping at regular speed, and sometimes the ones turning the rope sped up to "hot pepper." 

This is one in a series of old-fashioned games for kids.

  • 01 of 11

    Down in the Valley

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    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. . . .

  • 02 of 11


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    This is possibly the best known of all jump rope rhymes. Like the majority of these rhymes, it includes kissing!

    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. . . .

  • 03 of 11

    Apples and Pears

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    I'm not sure why we found this rhyme so much fun. Maybe it was an early appeal to our sense of female empowerment.

    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.

  • 04 of 11


    This is another well-known classic. Many of these rhymes called for the name of the jumper to be inserted, along with the name of his or her sweetheart. So substitute the name of one of the children for Janey or Johnny. 

    Janey and Johnny
    Sitting in a tree,
    First comes love,
    Then comes marriage
    Then comes Janey
    With a baby carriage.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    I Like Coffee

    In this rhyme, the first jumper inserts the name of a friend she wants to join her 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 is jumping. This game is popular on school playgrounds, but try it during Grandma Camp or family reunions.

    I like coffee,
    I like tea,
    I'd like for Janey
    To come in with me.

  • 06 of 11


    I don't remember a rhyme associated with this jump rope game. The ones who were turning the rope called out "Kindergarten," and everyone had to run through the rope without being hit. Then they called out "First Grade," and everyone had to run in, jump once, and run out. The game continued through 12th grade. Sometimes we played that if you missed, you had to start over with kindergarten. Sometimes we played that when you missed, you were out, and the winner was the one who...MORE progressed the farthest.

  • 07 of 11

    Ice Cream Soda

    In this rhyme, the jumper's sweetheart is supposed to be indicated by the letter that the jumper misses on. (Do you remember doing this when eating an apple? You twisted the stem while going through the alphabet. The letter that the stem broke on was supposed to be the first name of your boyfriend or girlfriend.)

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

  • 08 of 11

    Teddy Bear

    While jumping to this rhyme, jumpers must mime the actions mentioned.

    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!

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    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, 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
    Spanis...MOREh Dancer, please come back.
    Spanish Dancer, read a book.
    Spanish Dancer, do not look.
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

  • 10 of 11

    Miss Lucy

    This is a humorous rhyme that we used to find rather scandalous. That's probably why we liked it so much. The words are also used in traditional hand-clapping games. It has also been set to music. The full version is very long, but we often jumped to abbreviated versions. 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...MORE 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.)

  • 11 of 11

    I Had a Little Sports Car

    In this rhyme, on the stretched-out word "cor-ner," the jumper runs out of the rope, around one of the turners, and back in. At the end, the answer to the question is determined by which word the jumper misses on. If a child is good enough to do the somewhat complicated maneuvers required by these last few rhymes, perhaps it's time to branch out into otherjump rope games, like Double Dutch. And yes, competitive jump roping is a thing.

    I had a little sports car,
    A two-forty-eight,
    I...MORE drove around the cor-ner
    and slammed on the brakes.
    When the policeman caught me
    He put me on his knee,
    And asked me a question:
    Will you marry me?
    Yes, No, Maybe So, Certainly. . . .