Children’s Rhymes and Playground Chants


 

 

 

 

 

 

CHILDREN’S RHYMES & PLAYGROUND CHANTS

 

Children have extremely creative minds and find it easy to enter their own imaginative worlds. They are also great mimics and rhymers. Folklorists have long been fascinated how children absorb and disseminate simple rhymes, especially those associated with action games.

 

 I invite reader contributions to this page. Please send via the contact form on the site.

 

 

From Lorraine Worsley. Our most popular games at school were, Jacks, Elastics and marbles. We used simple white hat elastic and joined together at the ends. 2 girls stretched it out by standing opposite ends of each other, starting with it round the ankles, while another girl had to jump between the elastics crossing it over the ankles and legs without falling.The elastic was moved up higher and higher each time till it was round the necks!

We used to make cubby houses in the playground grass areas too! We also used to fill the empty crisp and twistie packets with dirt and play shop.

John Piggott Ah, cocky laura. At some stage in the game there was always a mass rumble during which we shouted “Cocky Laura 1-2-3”. 

  • Cocky laura, or perhaps lora, was very simple: a long line of kids, maybe
  • 20 or 30 (and at my primary school both boys and girls, I seem to recall),
  • along one side of the field; one kid, “It”, in the middle. Then a frantic
  • charge to the other side, with the kid in the middle bringing down whoever
  • he could. (I was pretty slow and slight so I nearly always went down in the first wave.) That kid would then join him in trying to catch others. And so
  • on and so on, until only one kid was left – the winner. Now I think about
  • it, I’m a bit puzzled where the cry of “Cocky laura 1-2-3” came into it.

Also making “frisbees” with the little tin pie trays from the tuckshop. On Mondays, c.1969, when there was no fresh bread (no commercial baking on Sundays!), I used to buy my lunch with 20c tied up in the corner of my hankie. (Meat pie 17c; tiny bag of Eta peanuts 3c. Both banned now, I guess.)


  • Jan Lewis one I’m trying to remember but might have mixed it up……Giddy giddy gout, your shirt’s hanging out, one half in and the other half out. …………….(a line or so missing) Mother gave a shout and in came Daddy with his shirt hanging out.

    schoolyard games….not on the asphalt but under the pine trees at a little country school….we would make ‘houses’ by making lines of pine needles into ‘rooms’, with ‘beds’, ‘couches’, and leaving gaps for the doorways. (think of a houseplan). We would have ‘visitors’ and invite them into the house (and a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing about who shared the double bed!). One time there was a big decayed old stump that made a great cubby house too.

  • I went to schools in the Dandenongs – Wandin East mainly and we used to sing “The Seven Steps”.
  • (All circle right, holding hands)
  • Have you ever heard of the seven steps?
  • Have you ever heard of the seven steps?

If my memory is right, from the caravan serving as a tuckshop at Lillydale High, in the late 50’s I could buy a pastie & sauce for ninepence and a banana or chocolate fuzz (! like a paddle pop) for thruppence which took care of the shilling in the corner of my hanky.


  • Hannah Gillespie Elastics was a big deal for us too. Mid 80’s in the ACT. We sang ‘England Ireland Scotland Wales’ as we jumped over the elastic side to side then ‘inside outside inside TAILS’ where we would literally jump inside then legs outside then on TAILS you had to jump both feet on the elastic. If you got through the elastic would move up higher as Lorraine described above.

  • Russell Hannah FacebookCigarette Cards were big Warren We used to make them out of the old cigarette packets by folding them flat. Then we’d throw them up against a wall. The flip Top Box Rothmans bugget that because you couldn’t flatten them into cards.
  • Have you got Milk, Milk, lemonade- round the corner chocolate’s made

  • Alison Boyd We had a different name for the elastics game in Ireland. We joined loads of elastic bands together, the principle was the same, but we called it ” German jumps”. And your cocky Laura we called “red rover” one team picked someone from the opposite team to try to break through and called ” red rover, red rover, we call ( insert name here) over”. There were loads of hand clapping and skipping games too, and marbles, or marlies.

    ” the farmer wants a wife” or ” in and out go the dusty bluebells” ? Both circle type singing games. We also played jacks and had rhymes for throwing a ball against a wall

  • our version differred at the end – 1. the farmer wants a wife, 2. the wife wants a child. 3.the child wants a nurse, 4. the nurse wants a dog, 5. the dog wants a bone, 6. the bone’s left alone (everyone goes back to the big circle and leaves the bone in the middle), 7. AHA look at the bone (everyone goes in and pats the bone on the back)
  • Marilyn Russell I played Jacks every afternoon, the boys played marbles, but at lunchtime there was always handball, skipping with the large rope or double ropes, handball, coca cola yo yos, elastics, crocodile crocodile can I pass your river, strings (where you make patters with a piece of string and your hands) and by the time we went to High School a whole group of us would play FREEZE.


    Marilyn Russell Oh yes, in primary we played cat and mouse in a circle where the cat has to try and catch the mouse and the circle lets the mouse in and out under their arms but has to try and stop the cat getting the mous. Also, another circle game I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it using a handkerchief. Along with many clapping games.

  •   Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick sick sick
  • So she called for the doctor to be quick quick quick
  • A sailor went to sea sea sea
  • To see what he could see see see
  • But all that he could see see see
  • Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea
  • Miss Mary Mac Mac Mac
  • Was dressed in black black black
  • She had 3 buttons buttons buttons
  • On her shirt shirt shirt

  • Alison Boyd Miss polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick
  • She called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick,
  • The doctor came with his bag and his hat,
  • And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat
  • He looked at the dolly and he shook his head,
  • He said ” miss polly put her straight to bed”
  • He wrote on a paper for a pill, pill, pill,
  • ” I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.”


  • Matthew Black …number nine, he like to dance and keep in time now let’s get the rhythm of the knees (ALL – knees), now let’s get the rhythm of the…

  • Marilyn Russell Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick.
  • So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick.
  • The doctor came with his bag and his hat
  • And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
  • He looked at the dolly and he shook his head
  • And he said “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed!”
  • He wrote on a paper for some pills, pills, pills
  • “I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.”

    Marilyn Russell This one too….I went to the Animal Fair

  • The animals all were there
  • Up on the light was a big baboon
  • Combing his auburn hair
  • The monkey he got drunk.

    l Irky Perky was a worm, a noble worm was he. He walked along the railway track, a train he did not see…….. ERKY PERK

    John Piggott Inky Pinky Ponky, Daddy bought a donkey. Donkey died, daddy cried. Inky Pinky Ponky!

  • John Piggott One-one was a racehorse. Two-two was one too. One-one won one race. Two-two won one too.


    Jan Lewis Is this the one Marilyn? Doctor Knickerbocker

  • Doctor Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine
  • He likes to dance and he keeps in time
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • One, two, three four five six seven eight nine
  • Doctor Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine
  • He likes to dance and he keeps in time
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • One, two, three four five six seven eight nine
  • Doctor Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine
  • He likes to dance and he keeps in time
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • One, two, three four five six seven eight nine
  • Doctor Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine
  • He likes to dance and he keeps in time
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the lips [kiss kiss]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the lips [kiss kiss]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • Let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • One, two, three four five six seven eight nine Doctor Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine
  • He likes to dance and he keeps in time Now let’s get the rhythm of the head [nod nod]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the head [nod nod]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the lips [kiss kiss]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hips [wolf whistle]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the feet [stamp stamp]
  • Now let’s get the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Now we’ve got the rhythm of the hands [clap clap]
  • Let’s get the rhythm of the number nine
  • One, two, three four five six seven eight nine

    Karen Elizabeth Woolfall My mummy told ne, if I was goody , that she would buy me a rubber dolly , my aunty told her I kissed a soldier, now she wont buy me a rubber dolly.

  • Jill Johnston Did anyone used to play British Bulldog? (a run and tag game where you had to go from side to side) My son seems to play something similar called Bullrush.
     this is coming from my son .. ” one person stands in the middle, everyone on one side and they have to run past that person in the middle to get to the other side. if you’re takled, held for 3 secs, or tagged then you join the person in the middle in catching others. The last person that hasn’t been caught wins.” (this is in western NSW if that helps you at all)

  • The person in the middle can nominate one person to choose Bullrush or “self run” which is where that person can run on their own. (he just said that they want to play tackle but the teachers won’t let them LOL) Similar to British Bulldog I guess.

  • Duck duck goose? kids sit in a circle facing in, one walks around the outside and taps each child on the head and says ‘duck’ but then they’ll say goose to one person who has to jump up and chase them around the cirlce and hope to catch them before they sit in his vacant spot.


  •  

  • Matthew Black Ya mum’s so fat she broke her leg and gravy poured out
    October 18 at 3:49pm ·
  • Matthew Black Ya mum’s teeth are so yellow she could butter a whole loaf of bread.


  • John Piggott At National Fitness Camps we proud little Aussies sang it as “greasy green goanna guts”


  • Jill Johnston Jingle Bells Batman Smells Robin ran away, Wonder Woman lost her bosum flying TAA, hey! (I also seem to remember it being Robin laid an egg)


  • Merril Worrad Jill Johnston – Father Christmas burnt his whiskers, smoking Craven A.
  • John Piggott We three kings of orient are/Tried to smoke a plastic cigar/It exploded … Rest lost in the mists of 1970 infants school memory. But clearly remember a schoolmarm telling off us boys for signing it

  • Dean Parkinson A b c d goldfish

m n o goldfish

o s a r

c d b d eyes

2 hours ago via mobile · Like

Warren Fahey goldfish yes but not weather ditty. thanks.

Harriott O’Malley 

Aunty Mary had a canary

She also had a duck

She put them behind the kitchen door

And taught them how to

 

Fry eggs for breakfast

A cuppa tea for two

The more you eat the more you drink

The more you want to

 

Peter was a fisherman

Lying on the dock

Along came a big fish

And bit off his

 

Cock-a-doodle-do

It’s got nothing to do with you

So leave him alone

And play with your own

That’s all you have to do !

 

Lachlan and Amber.

What’s the time?

Half past nine

Hang your boobies on the line

If they tera – I don’t care

Go and buy another pair.

Tickle me, tickle me, you know where

Under my kilt and in my hair

If you tickle me in the wrong place

I’ll lift up my kilt and piss in your face.

Games played Marco Polo

Goose

Chinese football

ibble obble chocolate bubbleibble obble splat

 

Janis White Law French and English 2 people hold a rope in each hand , that connects to the other person about 3 meters away , turn the ropes at the same time with each rope hitting the ground about 2 seconds apart , a person does a quick run to miss the ropes but end in the centre of the turning ropes ! The continue to jump up as each rope passes under their feet !, remember the ropes are turning inwards to the person ! If you make the furn faster that is called peppers !,,,, if I recall double Dutch is the same position for all but the ropes are rotated in opp direction ! It’s tricky to master that one ! ,,, tram lines you put one rope in a straight line on the ground and hold it with their feet use the other rope to turn normallly ,, you had to jump up side to to side over the ground rope !,, hope that’s right get yourself some long rope and a partner you won’t need the gym !

 

Janis White Law

Janis White Law Hey ho the Derry oh the farmer takes a wife ,, so the boy if you can get one ,, dances ,, or as they say today whatever ! And grabs a girl by hand only ! And they go round the circle then it is hey ho the Derry oh. The farmer takes a wife. The wife takes a cow ,, she grabs some one from the circle and you can go on and on. And add what ever animals you like until and. The worst. It is I forget the end ! I think we made the noises of said animals ! You can imagine the noise

Patricia Farrar One potato, two potato, three potato, four…..a game played by tapping your fist on each others.

 

Lynette Komidar A tisket a tasket, a green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it. I dropped it I dropped it. Someone must have picked it up and put it in his pocket … Children sit in a circle, the ‘note’ carrier skips around the peripheral and drops the note (hanky) behind a child. Every one shouts and all look around until suspect is discovered .. ya lost me there.

 

Patricia Farrar What about cat’s cradle made with a piece of wool? Being able to make the Harbour Bridge was a special skill – particularly if you could undo it without getting knotted!

Like · Reply · 2 · April 27 at 1:32pm

Lynette Komidar

Lynette Komidar Get knotted! So that’s where that expression came from!! My mother taught me this Pat. The Eiffel Tower .. wow, a blank. The trick was to pull the string from the top centre (I may have made that up (she rushes to find a piece of wool)

 

20 little froggies down beside the rushy pool ! From their gran who possibly learnt it from hers in the 1906 era !!  

Janis White Law Hold on!my daughter is telling me !faux pas 10 not 20 ! 10 little froggies went to school down beside a rushy. Pool ,! 10 little coats bright and green 10 little vests so white and clean ,we must go to school said they ,first we study then we play , that is how we keep the rules , when we 10 froggies go to school , !

Janis White Law We did play rounders and red light in the courtyard of the council flats. 

anis White Law Was the red light where you called out red light as you were running around a small area in front of the brick wall , if the ball was going it hit you that was being thrown by ? Your best friend ? Also we did play Statue s where you had to stop at a moment s notice so as not to be caught moving

Like · Reply · April 27 at 5:07pm