From play to fitness, kids’ jump ropes have never gone out of style. No one is quite sure who invented the jump rope or how it got to be so popular. Some think the jump rope originated in China, while others trace its Western roots to Australia and Egypt. Paintings from the Middle Ages show European children playing with jump ropes. So, the theory goes the art of jump rope came across the Atlantic with settlers to North America. The popular Double Dutch game was coined from the Netherlands, where jump rope was very trendy.
By the 1970s, a push was made to get kids more active, and the kids’ jump rope took center stage, making the leap into fitness routines. Regardless of how the jump rope started turning, it remains a fun and healthy activity for kids. There’s also more to do with a jump rope than just counting how many you can do. Here are some great kids’ jump-rope games to get them outside and playing.
When kids don’t have a playmate, jump rope is a perfect activity. As they get more confident, kids can get fancy with their jump-rope skills with these moves:
- Scissor jumps: Land on one foot, and on the next time around, switch feet
- Cross jumps: Alternate between landing with feet crossed and uncrossed
- Swing: Land on one foot with the opposite leg stretched out to the side; on the next jump, switch things up
For younger kids who can’t quite get the rhythm of jumping over the rope, Snake is ideal. One person turns the jump rope into a snake on the ground, wiggling it back and forth, while the other kids jump back and forth. If the rope hits a person, he or she is out. Participants take turns being the snake and jumping. You can play Snake without the elimination rule if players prefer.
To play this jump-rope game, at least three players are needed. Two players turn the rope, and one player jumps while holding a cup of water. Players take turns turning the rope and jumping. The winner is the player who has the most water left in his or her cup at the end of the game.
For larger groups, Stack Up is a perfect pick for a jump-rope game. Two players turn the rope. One person starts jumping in the center. Then, another joins in. You keep adding jumpers to the center until there is a missed jump. When there’s a missed jump, change up the rope turners and start the process over. The idea is to get all the participants jumping for a long a possible. A longer jump rope is best for a game of Stack Up.
Practicing math facts is a lot more fun with a jump rope. Jump-rope math is a cool game for the playground at school or home. The jumper is given a math problem to solve like 3+4 and must jump the answer. You can play this game with a single jump rope or a longer Double Dutch one.
If you have a bigger group of kids, a jump-rope relay is an energetic game to play. Divide the kids into teams. Set a distance, like across a basketball or tennis court. Each participant must jump their way across and back before handing the jump rope off to a team member. The first team to complete the jump-rope relay course is the winner.
Another ideal game for a group of six to eight kids is Follow Me. For this game, use a long Double Dutch jump rope. Two participants turn the rope. One person enters and jumps once, exiting on the diagonal. The other jumpers wait in a line by one of the turners. As jumper one exits, jumper two enters. The game continues with the jumpers exiting and walking around the second turner to rejoin the line. A round is over when a jumper misses.
Jump the River
A fun playground or camp game for preschoolers, Jump the River is a little like Snake, except the river doesn’t move; it just gets wider. Set up two jump ropes about 6 inches apart. Participants form a line and need to jump over the river made by the two jump ropes. After everyone has gone, the river gets wider. If someone steps into the river, he or she is out. The game continues with the river getting wider until there’s only one person left.
Watching a round of Double Dutch can be very exciting. It’s played by having two jump ropes turning at the same time in opposite directions. One or two jumpers jump and turn. Sometimes, this is done with the jumpers saying a rhyme or chant.
Solo or with friends, jumping rope is a fabulous way to get kids outside and exercising. The jump rope has stood the test of time because it’s fun and an easy physical activity that children of all ages can do. Jumping rope is a perfect activity for gym classes, camps, or right in the driveway at home. Even moms and dads can get an awesome workout with these cool jump-rope games.
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