Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hand Bones

I called them Hand Bones while growing up. A line a picked up from the ever popular "Mocking Bird" rhyme. Recently stuck at home with an injured shoulder the repetitive movement was about all a could manage to relieve boredom and I found myself clapping rhymes with myself.

Enter the suddenly remembered secret domain of a little girl. Handclapping rhymes, a important component of handed-down oral girl culture and an altogether mysteriously shared experience. The Daring Book for Girls describes them as a fascinating oral storytelling tradition, many of which flirt with adult concepts such as, courtship, language and power memes all while using inventive language, simple songs, and sometimes tricky choreography.

If you'd like to catch a couple of school girls artfully giggling their way through some modern ones, watch the videos hosted on Kidz Lore, an Australian folklore website that has a section on "clapping games" which provides a nice collection.

One of my favorite memories of these games comes from a magical day in the fourth grade when I taught three friends how to do the only foursome hand bones I knew, Rocking Robin, as you have it which made us the stars of the playground for a week. Oh, and if you just want to remember how to do your favorites again? has a good list of songs and patterns.

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