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10 classic hand-clapping games to teach your kid

Try these fun hand clapping games and put your rhythm and coordination to the test!

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Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

In a culture where it’s normal to pack your kid’s backpack with earphones and an iPad, it may seem like forever ago that hand-clapping games ruled the schoolyard. But if you’re an old-fashioned soul wanting to pass down the skill of hand-eye coordination to your kid, look no further! Here are some classics that will surely get them hooked.

1. Patty Cake

“Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can.” Patty Cake is the most classic and simple clapping game out there. Played with two people, hands are clapped in the standard criss-cross motion. Then you roll your dough, pat it and mark it with a B (for baby). It’s a game that can be played with the youngest of tots.


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2. Miss Mary Mack

Sometimes the lyrics in kids’ hand-clapping games make very little sense. Case in point: Miss Mary Mack.  It raises questions such as “Who is this Miss Mary Mack, exactly?” and “Why does it only cost her 50 cents to go to the zoo?” Regardless, this clap game encompasses the basic skill learned in Patty Cake, but adds in two other elements.

3. The Cup Game

Before there was Anna Kendrick’s song “Cups,” there was the cup game. It includes the same rhythm that Kendrick sings over, but is a competitive game played in a group. Each person plays the rhythm and passes down the cup to the next player. If you lose the rhythm at your turn, you’re out!

Watch it in action:

Learn how to play:

4. Sevens

Much like the cup game, Sevens puts your rhythmic skills to the test. There are a few rhythm patterns within this game. Once you’ve started, the following player must match your rhythm as you move onto the next one. The tricky part is keeping in sync with the others in the game.

5. Rockin’ Robin

An ode to Bobby Day’s 1958 hit song by the same name, Rockin’ Robin can be played with two to four people. The rules of the game vary in accordance with the number of people that join in. However, it’s best played with four people so you can clap over and under (as demonstrated in the video).

6. Tick-Tack-Toe

There are no real rules to this game; it’s simply a bunch of hand movements done for fun! (This one totally reminds us of that scene in The Parent Trap when Annie (Lindsay Lohan) is saying goodbye to her butler, Martin.)

7. Concentration 64

Without repeating or hesitating, players must think of a name or word that relates to a chosen category. There’s no real meaning to the number 64 within the game, but it might be a good challenge to see if you can list off 64 words without breaking concentration.

8. Slide

This game is all about keeping count while keeping your cool. Slide can get pretty intense as your claps increase in number. Try this game with your kid and see how far you get!

9. Say, Say Oh Playmate

Let this song take you back to those sunny days with sidewalk chalk, ice cream and your schoolyard bff. Its innocent lyrics encompass the essence of childhood friendship and it’s an easy clapping rhythm to learn, too. (Note: This one is also known as “Cee Cee My Playmate,” and there are versions where the lyrics aren’t quite so innocent.)

10. Stella Ella Ola

The precise lyrics to Stella Ella Ola are hotly debated (“clap clap clap” or “quack quack quack,” for example). What we do know for sure is that it’s a fun and easy game that can be played in a large group.

Here are some suggested lyrics (that will almost certainly conflict at least slightly with your memory), courtesy of the YouTube video above:

Stella Ella Ola clap clap clap
singing es Tiga Tiga, Tiga Tiga Shack Shack
Es Tiga Tiga, Baloa Baloa, Baloa Lo-a-Lo
1 2 3 4 5

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