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The Best Hand Clapping Games for Kids {+video and printable}

Looking for those hand clapping games you used to play as a child? This list has them all!

Awesome hand clap games to teach your children, students or camp attendees. I included videos to make learning quick and easy…and you can grab the free printable with the lyrics to all the hand clapping songs too!

Hand clapping games for kids. Classic rhymes from the 80's and 90's

Benefits of Hand Clapping Games

The act of singing a song and clapping your hands may not seem like it would do much, but there is actually quite of bit of evidence that hand clapping, singing and following a particular rhythm or beat actually has tremendous benefits.

A few benefits of playing hand clap games and rhymes include:

  • Improved cognitive skills including spelling and handwriting
  • Increased coordination
  • Crossing midline (which is important in developing a dominant side of the body)
  • Memory
  • Rhythm
  • Sequencing (the ability to recall the order in which things happen)
  • Social Skills
  • Emotional regulation
  • Teamwork
  • Collaboration
  • Self confidence

And these benefits are not just for children. In the same study that showed the cognitive advantages that hand clap rhymes gave to children they saw similar results in adults.

So grab a child or friend and start playing!

Two girls playing hand clapping games on the living room floor

The Magic of Hand Clap Song and Rhymes

Can you remember what you ate for lunch last Tuesday?

No….I didn’t think so.

But can you remember the hand clap games that you played as a child?

Yep, thought so!

I am serious – hand clapping songs and rhymes ARE magic.

I have experienced them as a child, a mother and a school teacher and there is just something about clapping games that transcend time, age, gender (I promise you…boys like them too) and cultures.

You don’t need any supplies or equipment.

Just your hands and a friend – the stuff childhood is made of!

Hand clapping games are perfect to keep kids occupied while:

-Standing in line
-Riding in the backseat of the car
-Waiting for a performance or movie to start in a theater

These simple songs and rhymes also help to teach rhythm, counting, rhyming and hand-eye coordination.

Infact, research shows that:

  Young children who play hand-clapping games are better spellers, have neater handwriting, and better overall writing skills.

They are also great ice breakers for events with kids because they get people working together right away.

I don’t think any parent, teacher or camp counselor can ever have too many hand clapping games in their repertoire – so if you want a simple, free and fun game to play keep reading!

You can find the printable list of all the lyrics at the bottom of this post!

Fun Hand Clapping Games for Kids

Your kids are going to have so much fun learning these hand clapping songs and teaching them to their friends....just like you did when you were a kid!

Apple on a Stick

Apple on a Stick

Apple on a stick, 

Makes me sick, 

Makes my heart beat 2-fourty six 

Not because you’re dirty,

 Not because you’re clean 

Just because you kissed a boy behind the magazine 

Girls, girls, wanna have some fun? 

Here comes Suzy with her hoop skirt on

She can wibble She can wobble She can do the splits 

But I betcha ten dollars She can’t do this; 

Close your eyes and count to ten If you miss you start again 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10…

Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack

All dressed in black, black, black

With silver buttons, buttons, buttons

All down her back, back, back

She asked her mother, mother, mother

For 50 cents, cents, cents

To see the elephants, elephants, elephants

Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high

They reached the sky, sky, sky

And they didn’t come back, back, back

‘Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Pat it and roll it and mark it with a B

And put it in the oven for baby and me

Lemonade, Crunchy Ice

Lemonade, Crunchy ice

Beat it once

Beat it twice

Turn around (Turn around)

Touch the ground (Touch the ground)

Kick your boyfriend out of town!

Freeze! Defrost! Tell your boyfriend to get lost.

Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;

Some like it hot, some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Say Say Oh Playmate

Say Say Oh Playmate

Say, Say, oh playmate,

Come out and play with me

And bring your dollies three

Climb up my apple tree

Slide down my rain barrel

Into my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more, more, more.

So sorry, playmate

I cannot play with you

My dolly’s got the flu

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel

Ain’t got no cellar door

But we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more, more, more.

Grandma Grandma Sick in Bed

Grandma Grandma, Sick in Bed

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster 

Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go, 

Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pops, Shimmy shimmy pow! 

Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pops, Shimmy shimmy pow! 

Grandma  grandma, sick in bed, Called the doctor and the doctor said; 

Let’s get the rhythm of the head – ding dong! 

Let’s get the rhythm of the head – ding dong! 

Let’s get the rhythm of the hands – clap, clap! 

Let’s get the rhythm of the hands – clap, clap! 

Let’s get the rhythm of the feet – stomp, stomp!

 Let’s get the rhythm of the feet – stomp, stomp!

 Let’s get the rhythm of the – hot dog 

Let’s get the rhythm of the – hot dog! 

Put it all together and what do you get? 

Ding dong, clap clap, stomp stomp, hot dog! Put it all backward and what do you get? Hot dog, stomp stomp, clap clap, ding dong!

Creating this list was so much fun! It brought back so many memories from childhood.

It also reminded me how important the “simple things” are to our kids. You don’t need over the top events and activities to have fun with your children.

All they really want is our time and attention.

If you are looking for more ways to connect and have fun as a family be sure to check out these posts too:

How do you play hand clap games?

Most hand clapping games are played with a partner. You either sit or stand facing each other. You then clap a particular rhythm or pattern with your partner as you sing a song. Many hand clap games end when the song ends, but there are others that keep going until one of the players makes a mistake. Each clapping game has different rules and directions, but those are the basic steps for most of them.

Where did hand clapping games originate?

While there are records of particular hand clap games including Pat-A-Cake being played in Europe as early as the 1600’s my guess is that hand clapping games have been around a lot longer than that. You can also be sure that other cultures and tribes around the world who are known for their rhythmic clapping and dancing also participated in hand clapping games for thousands of years.

There you have it! The best list of hand clap games from the 80’s, 90’s and even earlier.

Hand Clapping games for kids with lyrics

Did I miss your favorite? Be sure to include it in the comments below!


  1. I am
    Doing a blog on finger plays and would like to refer people to this blog on hand clapping games as a up grade to finger plays. Would that be ok with you? Lisa

  2. Hello
    The blog is really very interesting,the clap activities are fun-loving,,,and educational help too.
    I always add claps,wen I m with my daughter’s….
    When they windup there toys,,or preparing timetable for next day school,,,,
    Or while playing outdoors….

    Climbing step with a clap is most enjoyed by my girls.


  3. There was one I played when I was little:. Slide down the rain barrel and the cellar door and we’ll be friends forevermore, more, more. There may be more words I’m not remembering. The hand movements were tough!

      1. It was a song from the time of the Spanish flu epidemic originally. My granny sang it to me when I was little. A little different lyrics that I remember: Splash in my rain barrel, Slide down my cellar door, And we’ll be jolly friends forever more.”

  4. This is amazing!!!!! Can’t wait to share with my kids!
    Does anyone remember the one about McDonalds? 😉 This is the only part I remember:
    Icy coke
    filet of fish
    quarter pounder
    French fries

  5. I love this collection! I’ve been looking for some of these to share with my 5yo, as I don’t remember most of the ones that my friends and I used to play when we were younger. Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky was always my favorite 🙂

  6. I used to love hand clapping games but I couldn’t remember very many when it came time to teach my kids. Thanks for this great list so I can show them more.

  7. Love these. I’ll do a few of these with my granddaughter. I remember one that I did in Girl Scouts:
    We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, I’m not scared, what a beautiful day.
    My granddaughter has a book with the words, but back in the day someone would recite the words and we’d all do the clap/snap motions. It was fun because as ‘we’ are running from the bear, the clapping/snapping gets faster and faster.

  8. I love these.
    I remember one that ended with diamonds in the snake eyes. I have been wracking my brain. Of how it went….
    I can’t wait to teach my 5 year daughter and 5 year old grand daughter!!

    1. I found it! It’s called “There’s a place called Mars”.
      It goes:
      There’s a place called Mars,
      where the ladies smoke cigars.
      Every puff they take
      is enough to kill a snake.
      When the snake is dead,
      they put roses on its head.
      When the roses die,
      they put diamonds in their eyes.
      When the diamonds break,
      it will be 1968.

  9. My Mother sang “Say, Say, Oh Playmate” with me when I was 4 years old, we continued to enjoy it well into my grade school years. I started singing it with my granddaughter when she was 3 years old, too. She is now 12 years old and has a 2 year old sister and a 3 year old brother. Good things never grow old; the 4 of us delight in singing and clapping “Say…Playmate” together.

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