This child’s skipping rope consists of a rope (about 1.5m long) with wooden handles each end.  The handles are shaped so as to be comfortably gripped, with a long thin handpiece.  On top of this is a spherical wooden piece through which the rope is threaded and knotted invisibly inside, to secure it.  The spherical piece moves independently from the handle, so the rope can spin around whilst being used, and not become tangled.

This skipping rope could be used by an individual child, holding both ends; or played with by 3 children together, one on each end and the third jumping in between.  The aim is to rotate the rope over the head of the skipper, and then under their feet, in a continuous sequence.  The skipper has to judge the right time to jump so as not to interrupt the movement of the rope round and round their body.  In its simplest form, the prowess of the skipper is judged by how many successive jumps they manage before tripping or becoming entangled.  Many variations have been invented over the years, some of which involved the chanting of rhymes in rhythm with the jumps.

Whilst primarily intended as a toy for children in the playground or back garden, skipping has also proved popular with adults as a way of keeping fit.  Boxers, in particular, have found skipping useful in their training routines.  It requires balance, control, stamina and lightness of footwork – all considered important in boxing.

A new type of skipping game became all the rage in the 1970’s in New York – Double Dutch skipping.  This uses two quite long skipping ropes, being spun alternately and simultaneously.  The jumper(s) being required to skip from both feet alternately, rather than with two feet together.  All sorts of complicated, speedy routines have been perfected and competitions were set up and became hugely popular.

More information:

Date 1960s, 1950s, 1970s
Material(s) CottonWood
Item number MBPO194

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Do you remember any skipping rhymes from your childhood?
  • What other kinds of games did you play in the playground?

User Stories

When I was a schoolgirl (1960’s) we used to play a skipping game with a longer rope so that more children than just the one could jump together while the rope was spun by two more.  The jumpers would stand in a line by one of the spinners, and time their run perfectly so that they could run in, jump however many times the game required, and then run out the other side, without tripping on the rope.  Sometimes there would be 4 or 5 jumpers all jumping at the same time, and having to get their timing perfect.

One rhyme we used to chant went as follows:

Not last night but the night before, 24 robbers came knocking at my door, and I ran out! (Skipper runs out on one side, runs around the spinner, then re-enters from the other side.)

And this is what they said to me……

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around  (skipper turns around)
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.  (skipper touches the ground)
Teddy bear, teddy bear, show your shoe.  (skipper points their toe)
Teddy bear, teddy, bear, that will do.  (skipper wags their finger as if at a naughty child)
Teddy bear, teddy bear, go upstairs  (skipper raises knees high while skipping)
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers  (skipper puts palms together)

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the light  (skipper mimes blowing out a candle)
Teddy bear, teddy, bear, say goodnight.  (skipper blows a kiss and runs out of the skipping rope.)

All the above movements are attempted while keeping the skipping rope turning.  Any mistakes means the skipper has to relinquish their place to someone else.


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