Counting out rhymes

Over the decades children have developed their own ways of democratically deciding who is to be 'it' or in which team, discover more here. 


An introduction to counting out games

Article by:
Michael Rosen

Counting out is just one way children choose who’s going to be it or on or picking up, in other words helping to choose teams.

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Contemporary film still of two children playing, one points at the other

Michael Rosen on Counting Out games

In this film Michael Rosen introduces the history of counting out games.

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Counting out rhymes

Article by:
Julia Bishop

Children have a variety of ways to fairly decide who is 'it', Julia Bishop explores the development of 'counting out' games.

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Animation still showing three children's fists next to the numbers 2, 3 and 4

An animation: Counting out rhymes

An animation about the development of 'counting out' rhymes

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Film still showing Andrew Burn speaking to camera

Playtimes: Continuity and Change

Professor Andrew Burn and Steve Roud discuss how childhood has changed over the last few decades.

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Film still showing Steve Roud talking to camera

Playtimes: Ethnicity

Steve Roud, drawing on the research of Professor Kathryn Marsh, discusses whether children’s games and songs have become more diverse as playgrounds become increasingly multi-ethnic.

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Film still showing Rebekah Willett speaking to camera

Playtimes: Creativity

Doctor Rebekah Willett explores how children bring imaginative narratives and language into their games such as running around games, socio-dramatic play, fantasy play and singing and dancing games.

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Further themes

Ball games

Ball games have a long cultural history, discover more about their past and the ways in which they feature in modern day playgrounds.

Clapping games

Explore the history, variety and continued development of this important and popular genre of play.

Influences on children's play

As adults we are all influenced by day-to-day world around us, children are no exception. Children's play is impacted by many factors including the media, fashion, books, gender and ethnicity – view the videos below to explore more.

Counting out rhymes

Over the decades children have developed their own ways of democratically deciding who is to be 'it' or in which team, discover more here.

Jokes and rude rhymes

Humour plays an important role in children's play and their development of verbal and social skills – explore the role of jokes and rude rhymes in the playground.

Playing with things

Children can develop seemingly endless games based around physical objects they see around them.

Pretend play

Children can use pretend play to explore a myrid of situations from bereavement to cooking a meal, flying a spaceship to caring for a baby. Discover more about this important aspect of childhood.

Running around games

Running around is perennially popular among children, explore the ways children often structure and develop these games.

Singing and dancing

Many of the singing and dancing games that children play today have long and convoluted histories, learn more about this genre of play here.

Skipping games

Once the most popular games in Britain, skipping games have seen a recent decline in playground popularity. Explore more about their history, development and benefits here.