18 Hand Clapping Games (Including Videos and Lyrics)

Do you have fond memories of playing hand-clapping games as a child and want to recreate them with your children? Maybe you have forgotten what the games entailed, or just how many hand-clapping games there are? If so, this guide should help! 

I have rounded up 18 of the best hand-clapping games from over the decades and around the world that will hopefully allow you to teach the young people in your life something fun that doesn’t involve a screen!

While iPads and earphones may rule the schoolyard today, this wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, the coolest kid was the one who had perfected the Boom, Snap, Clap, Hand Game, and the ‘in-crowd’ were the ones playing Miss Mary Mack

Let’s look back and remember how fun these games were. 

Hand Clapping Games from the 90s

Hand Clapping Games from the 90s Image

#1 Shame Shame Shame 

If you attended school during the 90s, you would likely have come across a version of Shame, Shame, Shame, as there were several variants depending on where you lived. 

While the lyrics may have been slightly different, the hand-clapping motion was the same, and Shame, Shame, Shame was always a simple game to pick up. 

The game requires two players with their hands held together and facing one another, and it progresses to single slaps above and below the finger-touching point to the rhythm of the song. 


“Shame, Shame, Shame,

I don’t want to go to Mexico no more more more,

There’s a big fat policeman at the door door door,

He grabbed me by the collar,

Made me pay a dollar,

I don’t want to go to Mexico no more more more,



#2 Mama Mama, Can’t You See

Mama Mama Can’t You See is another hand-clapping game that has different lyrics depending on where you picked up the game. 

For example, some children would sing the opening line as ‘Mama Mama can’t you see what my baby has done to me,’ and others would replace ‘baby’ with the word army. 

This simple hand-clapping game is best played with two players facing each other and maintaining contact throughout, holding or clapping hands. 


Mama, Mama, can’t you see?

What this baby done to me?

Took away my MTV,

Now I’m watching dumb Barney!

Tic tac toe, three in a row,

Barney got shot by G.I. Joe!

Mama called the doctor, the doctor said,

“Oops, I think Barney’s dead!”

#3 Boom Snap Clap 

Boom, Snap, Clap, Clap is a super-fast, super-fun, hand-clapping game that requires a lot of practice to reach perfection. Two players boom, snap and clap hands in quick succession to a fast-paced beat. 

More adventurous players can move on to knees, ankles, and feet! 

Here are the lyrics:


Boom, snap, clap. Ba-boom, snap, clap, snap. Boom, snap, clap. Ba-boom, snap, shh!


#4 Avocado 

A well-loved kindergarten and preschool game is Avocado. This is a super-easy game, requiring basic one-hand slaps from right hand to right hand, then left hand to left hand, as players recite the alphabet. 

The song increases in speed as you go through the alphabet until a player makes a mistake. This player is then given two optional names to choose from, starting with the letter they made a mistake on, and the game changes from Avocado to this new name. 


Avocado name of the game / if you mess up, change your name.

A, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z (faster through the alphabet – repeating if needed – until someone messes up)

#5 Slide 

Slide is a 2-person hand clapping game with just one word: ‘slide.’ Slide is said at the beginning, and that is it, with the onus on speed. The winner is the player who maintains the rhythm and speed, and the loser is the one to fumble. 




Hand Clapping Games from the 80s

Hand Clapping Games from the 80s Image

#1 Down Down Baby 

One of the best scenes to come from the movie Big has to be a young Tom Hanks busting the moves to this hand-clapping game: Down Down Baby! Also known as Rollercoaster, and with many variations, the most popular version came from a segment on Sesame Street in the 80s. 

Down Down Baby entails high and low hand clapping with the occasional knee slap if you’re feeling fancy! Ideally, you would play Down Down Baby as a twosome, but if you’ve the skill, this could be increased to more players. 


Down, down, baby, down by the roller coaster.

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

Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop, shimmy, shimmy, pow!

Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop, shimmy, shimmy, pow!


#2 ABC

ABC is a fun children’s hand clapping game suitable for all ages and abilities. Although it is a relatively long rhyme to learn, it’s catchy, and most kids quickly pick it up. 

The opening line is from The Jackson 5’s 1970s ABC song, but because of the references to MTV, I’d say this hand-clapping game is definitely from the 80s!


ABC is easy as 123

My Mama takes care of me,

my daddy watches MTV

#3 A Sailor Went to Sea

While the earliest documented recording of A Sailor Went to Sea was made by Iona Opie in Birmingham, UK, in 1972, it was the 80s when this nursery rhyme-inspired game was sung across the English-speaking world. 

Initially, this hand clapping game was called My Father Went to Sea, but by the 1980s, it had universally changed into the non-familial sailor. This hand-clapping game is so simple yet great fun, especially if you speed up the gameplay!


A sailor went to sea, sea, sea

To see what he could see, see, see

But all that he could see, see, see

Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea!


#5 Miss Mary Mack 

Sometimes the lyrics in hand-clapping games don’t make much sense. And this is especially poignant with Miss Mary Mack. The illiterate and chain-smoking Mary required 50 cents to visit the zoo, where hippos disappeared into the sky…

Mary Mack is one of the oldest hand-clapping songs of all time, but it was brought back into the mainstream during the 80s thanks to Magic School Bus author Joanna Coles, 1989 101 Jump-Rope-Rhymes book (how many of us got this for Christmas?!).


Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack

All dressed in black, black, black

With silver butt’ns, butt’ns, butt’ns

All down her back, back, back

She couldn’t read, read, read

She couldn’t write, write, write

But she could smoke, smoke, smoke

Her father’s, pipe, pipe, pipe

She asked her mother, mother, mother

For fifty cents, cents, cents

To see the hippos, hippos, hippos

Jump the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high

They reached the sky, sky, sky

And didn’t come back, back, back

Till the 4th of July-ly-ly!

Hand Clapping Games from the 70s

Hand Clapping Games from the 70s Image

#1 Charlie Brown 

Although Charlie Brown had a 50-year TV career, the animation was particularly big in the 1970s. Throughout this decade, Charlie Brown appeared on 12 TV specials and 2 full-length animations (Snoopy, Come Home and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. 

This is likely why the Charlie Brown hand-clapping game was so prominent during the 1970s (or it was in my world!)


I went downtown

To see Charlie Brown,

He gave me a nickel

To buy a pickle,

The pickle was sour,

So I bought a flower.

The flower was dead, so this is what I said.

Down down, baby, do the roller coaster.

#2 Dr Pepper 

The Dr Pepper hand clapping game originated in the 1970s thanks to a hugely popular Dr Pepper commercial and its catchy jingle. The marketing approach was so great that this hand-clapping game is still in circulation worldwide today! 

The lyrics are straightforward, and the clapping sequence is simple, so young kids can learn it quickly. 


I drink Dr Pepper, don’t you know

It’s the most fizzy thing that I know

And the thing about pepper

That makes Dr Pepper

I’m a pepper you’re a pepper

Don’t you want to be a pepper

Be a pepper, drink Dr Pepper

Be a pepper, drink Dr Pepper


#3 Miss Susie 

The schoolyard in the 1980s was at its absolute peak if you were part of the hilariously promiscuous Miss Susie hand-clapping game! 

There have been so many versions of this song since its origins, but during this decade, we had lost most of the sexist and racist lyrics!


Miss Susie had a steamboat,

The steamboat had a bell,

Miss Susie went to heaven,

The steamboat went to…

Hello Operator,

Please dial Number 9,

And if you disconnect me,

I’ll kick you from…


One Hand Clapping Games

One Hand Clapping Games Image

#1 Rockin’ Robin 

Although there are some double-hand movements in Rockin Robin, most of the game is played by one hand clapping that of another. This game became popular first in the 1950s due to Bobby Day’s Rockin Robin song and has remained so ever since. 

Warning: the song will get into your head and stay there all day long, but there are worse ones to be stuck there!


Tweedly deedly dee

Tweedly deedly de Tweedly deedly dee Tweedly deedly de Tweedly deedly dee Tweedly deedly de Tweet tweet Tweet tweet.

He rocks in the tree top

All day long Hoppin’ and a boppin’ And singin’ his song 

All the little birdies on Jaybird Street 

Love to hear the robin go 

Tweet tweet tweet Rockin’ robin


Korean Hand Clapping Games

Korean Hand Clapping Games Image

#1 Flying Wild Geese

As babies, Korean children are taught a game similar to the American game of pattycake. The rhyme tells of flying geese, and they’re taking a message to a favorite teacher, and the tune can be hummed without lyrics, with the hand-clapping motion being that of pattycake. 


In the cold morning air

I ask crying, flying wild geese

Take my postcard far over there

To my teacher For whom I care.

#2 Sam-nyuk-gu Game (3-6-9 Game)

The 3-6-9 clapping game entails basic mathematics and great attention to detail! Although the concept seems simple, once you actually play it, you’ll realize just how hard it is to control your speaking when acting. 

Confused? Basically, players take turns to count from the number 1, but each time they get to a number that contains a 3, 6, or 9, the player needs to clap and not say the number. 

As the numbers increase, so too do the number of claps. For example, if you get to 30, you should clap once, but for 33, two claps are required.


All numbers but 3, 6, or 9!


#3 Blue Sky, Milky Way (푸른하늘 은하수)

This sweet-sounding Korean hand clapping game is very similar to patty cake but with more of a lullaby feel to it. The concept is easy to pick up, although, for native-English speakers, the lyrics may be a little more challenging to get to grips with! 

Below is the English translation. 


In the blue sky in the milky way

There is a little white boat

On the boat, there is an Osmanthus tree

And a white rabbit playing

No oars to be seen

Nor a sail on the boat

The boat drifts along

Into the western sky


Down By The River Hand Clap Game

Down By The River Hand Clap Game Image

The hand-clapping game, Down By The River, is often referred to as ‘Down By The Banks of the Hanky Panky,’ but whatever you knew it as the premise will have been the same. 

This hand-clapping game is one of a few designed for multiple players and is still regularly played in schools today. 

Players sit in a circle and begin the song, passing a slap around by clapping the hand of the player next to them. You don’t want to be the player who lands the final slap on the final lyric, as this makes you the loser. 

However, the game’s about having fun in a group; and it’s the taking part that’s important!


Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky 

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky 

With and eeps, ipes, opes, opps 

One fell in and went kerplops.


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