English for parents – play dip

How do you make a decision? Weigh up the pros and cons, decide which is the best value for money, ask another person? How do children make decisions? Chances are they’ll say a little rhyme. I saw a student of mine, who is 3 years old, trying to decide which colour crayon to use, and saying a rhyme under her breath… which made me think…

When children play games together, they often say a rhyme to decide who will be ‘it’ – the person who will catch the others. In the UK there are loads and loads of different rhymes, but probably the most well known is Eeny, meeny, miny, mo.

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo,

Catch a tiger by the tail

If it bites you, let it go

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo.

But there are a lot of different versions. The middle two lines vary, some people say Catch a tiger by the tail, if it squeals let it go…. Or Catch a spider on your toe, if it tickles let it go… or…

Children stand in a circle and the rhyme is said, in the video above the children point to select the person, but sometimes the rhyme is said while the children stand close together, touching shoes in a circle. We used to call this action of choosing ‘play dip’ or ‘do dip’.

Another popular rhyme begins – Ip Dip…

Ip dip sky blue

it is not you

This also has a lot of variations – ip dip dog shit, it is not you. …. or a longer version:

Ip dip sky blue
Is it me, is it you?
Not because you’re dirty
Not because you’re clean
My mum says you’re the fairy queen

There are many other rhymes and the words vary from county to county or even school to school.

What counting rhymes did you use as a child? Write your favourite in the comments!

Published by Abbie

English teacher, coach and writer. Helping English learners and teachers get more confident in their skills.

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