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29 Classic Hand Clapping Games for Kids (+Videos and Printable Lyrics)

Looking for those hand clapping games you used to play as a child? This list has them all! These hand-clapping rhymes and songs are fun for kids of all ages, from simple rhymes like Pat-A-Cake to more advanced rhymes and clapping techniques. 

These hand clap games are perfect to teach your children, students, or camp attendees. And the best part is, once you teach them, they can entertain themselves for hours – and teach their friends too!

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!


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

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:

Don’t forget to grab your printable copy of the lyrics!

Hand Clapping Games FAQs

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.

Are clapping and singing games the same?

Sometimes the two are used interchangeably and sometimes they’re the same – but not always. Clapping games focus on fine motor skills like hand-eye coordination and bilateral coordination. While there is often a rhyme that accompanies the movements and sometimes even a song, the focus is on the clapping. With singing games, while there may be hand movements to accompany it, the focus is on the song.

Is clapping a skill?

Yes, clapping is a skill, not something we are naturally born knowing how to do. Clapping requires fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. That’s why playing these hand clapping games can be so great for kids and why we often teach babies and toddlers Pat-A-Cake. Though it’s fun, it’s actually a way to improve their fine motor skills!

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

    1. Welcome to McDonald’s
      Can i take your order
      Big Mac
      Fish file
      Icy cola
      Thick shake
      Before it’s time to say goodbye
      You should try our apple pie

  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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. My mother gave me a nickel
    My father gave me a dime
    My sister gave me a lover boy who kissed me all the time
    My mother took away the nickel
    My father took away the dime
    My sister took away my lover boy and gave me Frankenstein
    He made me wash the dishes
    He made me wash the floor
    When he made me wash his dirty clothes, I kicked him out the door!

  10. I am a pretty little Dutch girl
    As pretty as pretty can be
    All the boys around my block are crazy over me me me
    One day while I was walking
    I heard my boyfriend talking
    To a pretty little girl with a strawberry curl and this is what he said to her
    I L O V E love you, I want to K I S S kiss you
    I want to K I S S you on your FACE face face face

  11. We would do the one with the Soldier and his wife. With each verse you do the motions in rhythm with the words.

    Have you ever ever ever in your long legged life seen a long legged soldier and his long legged wife? (You would move your hands far apart and keep the rhythm of claping.)
    No I’ve never never never in my long legged life seen a long legged soldier and his long legged wife.
    Next is, short legged, pigeon toed, cross eyed and knocked knee.
    I did this with my sister’s along with some of the others you listed.

  12. What about any many sesapenie oo pa papalini otchi caughtchi liveratchi i love you the spelling I’m sure is not right and there is more to it. Have yall heard that one

  13. I’m a funny little Dutch girl
    As funny as funny can Be, be be
    And all the boys on the baseball team are crazy over Me, me, me
    My boyfriend’s name is Tony
    He comes from the land of Bologna
    With a pickle on his nose
    And a pickle on his toe
    Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho ho ho

  14. I can’t remember the one that has “far and wide”. I played it with my grandmother. She had taught it to me a short time before we moved far away. Would love to relearn it and teach it to my granddaughter.

  15. Hello! Thank you for this great list! I plan to teach these in an after-school program to my elementary students. I’m not seeing the link for all the lyrics. Where can I find that?

  16. Thanks for gentrifying my culture. I love when added that part about it “originating in Europe, but other rhythmic cultures participated.” Y’all can’t give us credit for anything?

  17. Hello! I just found you since I just taught 4 yo granddaughter Miss Mary Mack and Miss Lucy had a baby she named him Tiny Tim, She put him in the bath tub to see if he could swim (etc). But I can’t remember the hand movements to The Spades go Two lips together Twilight Forever, Bring Back my love to me. Any suggestions?

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