Talking about old toys

Use the questions and videos below to talk with children about old skipping ropes and skipping games. Talk about the image here, or use the questions to explore a skipping rope you or the children may have brought in to your classroom or setting.

Describe all the details you can you see.

    • There are two handles, made of wood.
    • The wood looks quite worn and scuffed in some places. It looks as if it’s been used a lot.
    • The rope is probably made of cotton or jute (a natural fibre that was also used to make bags and sacks).
    • It has been hand made. This means it was made by person, not by a machine like a lot of toys today.
  • This is an old skipping rope.
  • Have you ever used one?
  • How do you play with a skipping rope? Can you skip?

A skipping rope like this would probably have been used by your grannies – and even their grannies – when they were little girls.

In those days it was unusual for boys to play with skipping ropes.

  • What do you think about that?
  • Does that sound fair?

Hundreds of years ago, only boys played skipping. People thought girls might hurt themselves. They also thought people might see the girls’ ankles under their long skirts, which was not allowed!

Explore through play

Skipping rhymes
Children can try learning some simple skipping rhymes from the past.

Can they make up actions to go with them?

They could jump or hop up and down, while they say the rhymes or jump over a rope swinging from side-to-side.


Teddy bear teddy bear
Teddy bear teddy bear turn around
Teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground
Teddy bear teddy bear turn off the light
Teddy bear teddy bear say goodnight


Down to the baker shop
Down to the Baker shop, hop, hop, hop
Buy, my mother said
Buy a loaf of bread
Down to the Baker shop, hop, hop, hop


Skipping games

Try these old skipping games. They are usually played with a long skipping rope, with one child wiggling, swaying or turning the rope from each end.

One of the rope turners thinks of a colour.
The rope turners wiggle, sway or turn the rope.
Each time the skipper jumps, they say a different colour.
When they guess the colour the rope turner is thinking of, it’s the next person’s turn.

Try playing the game with different themes, such as days of the week.


I like coffee…
Children line up to take turns at skipping. The rope turners sway the rope from side-to-side or turn it fully.

Everyone says the rhyme:

I like coffee I like tea
I want [child’s name] to jump with me (next child in the line jumps in)
I don’t like coffee I don’t like tea
I don’t want [child’s name] to jump with me (child jumps out)

Then it’s the next child’s go.


Teddy bear teddy bear
Children can try skipping to the Teddy bear rhyme. This is quite tricky.
The group say the rhyme and the skipper does the actions – while they are skipping!

Teddy bear teddy bear turn around (turn while skipping)
Teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground (touch the ground while the rope keeps turning)
Teddy bear teddy bear turn off the light (mime turning of a light)
Teddy bear teddy bear say goodnight (hold hands together on shoulder and tilt head onto them as if going to sleep)



  • Click on the ‘Playing in the past’ tab to find old pictures of children playing with toys and games.
  • This short film shows children skipping to the rhyme ‘Down to the Baker shop’ in Edinburgh in 1951
  • This short film shows children skipping and roller-skating
  • This film shows children skipping to different rhymes in the 1950s
  • This animation talks about the history of skipping
  • This film shows world champion Double Dutch skippers in the USA in the 1970s. The ‘Double Dutch’ is a kind of skipping with two ropes. It takes a lot of practice to be really good at it. These skippers were known as the Fantastic Four.