Clapping games teach children how to manage the gross motor skills of their arms and hands. They also improve a child's ability to stick to a rhythm, and if the clapping game is associated with words, the child may improve their speech and memory skills while they move. Additionally, since the majority of clapping games are free and don't need equipment, they're favourites of parents.
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Miss Mary Mack
"Miss Mary Mack" is a traditional clapping game in which the clappers chant about a girl's attire and the adventure the girl has when she asks her mother for money to go see animals at the zoo. A version of the text and an explanation of chant pitches may be found from Light Planet. (See References.) Each line of the chant ends with a word that is repeated three times. The clapping is based on these repeated words. The players reach across and clap with their right hands on the first and third repetitions. They reach across and clap with their left hands on the second repetition. Between each reach, they clap their own hands together. For the beginnings of all lines, three beats are used to cross and clap the hands over the chest, uncross the arms/hands and clap the thighs, and then clap the hands together.
"Potato Chips" is a clapping game that may be played in groups. Players sit in a circle to begin. Each child places their right hand palm up under the left hand of the player to the right. Each child puts their left hand palm down over the right hand of the player to the left. The group chants "Potato chips go crunch, crunch, crunch! Into my tummy---yummy, yummy, yummy! Some more, some more, some more, some more, some more! One, two, three, four!" Players clap the hands of the players next to them on the repeated words or word phrases. After the group finishes the chant, the players have to slap the palms of the players next to them before those players pull their palms away. If the players can't move their hands fast enough to avoid the slap, they are out of the game.
"Miss Susie" is a traditional clapping game that relies on homophones---words that sound alike---for humour. Children love this game because the homophones/close-sounding words make them "almost" say something naughty (e.g., "He fell upon his---Ask me no more questions"). Though there are many variations of clapping to "Miss Susie," the basic version involves reaching across and clapping the hand of your partner, alternating left and right and clapping your own hands together between each reach. All claps occur on the beat, with the strong syllables of the text lining up with the beats. The text is available from Child Story Hour. (See References.)
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