I learned how to “jump in” as a third grader and wondered if my own third graders would thrill to the jump-snap rhythm of shared competence. First, I needed a jump rope. You know the kind: one that is actually made of rope, burned at the ends so that it doesn’t fray, and long enough so that the tallest child (and the teacher,too) can jump. Mr. Greene knew exactly what I was talking about and he found one for me right away. To make it even better, it was bright green.
There was curiosity about the jump rope as we walked outside. I asked if someone would help me turn and people slowly lined up. “Anyone know how to jump in?” I asked. None. “Anyone know how to jump?” Some. There were good jumpers and some who had never jumped, but they caught on fast. When someone had trouble, I would lay down the rope and offer my hand as we jumped together, transmitting the iambic pentameter of:
And JUMP, and JUMP, and JUMP, and JUMP, and JUMP.
or the more trochaic:
JUMP and, JUMP and, JUMP and, JUMP and, JUMP and…
Cinderella dressed in Yella…
Teddy Bear Teddy Bear Turn around…
As we jumped I thought about the poetry of it all– how poetry is measured in metrical feet (iambs), and that through the years children have developed their own culture of cadence where street rhymes are also measured by feet, by jumping feet. And yes, jumping rope is bound to add cadence to writing and lay the groundwork for understanding the rhyme and rhythm of poetry that will come later in their academic lives.
Two generations ago teachers and parents were not custodians of street rhymes and jump rope games. They were transmitted spontaneously by the big kids down the street or by friends who lived over on the next block. I am needed here for just a minute– a steward of an endangered game– while I teach children to “jump in” to what is theirs.
School starts at nine o’clock and don’t be late…
JUMP (snap, snap) RIGHT (snap, snap) IN!!!!!!
Iona and Peter Opie wrote in one of their landmark books on the lore and games of children that children are “tradition’s warmest friends.” This is so clear with third graders and I think you will see it as you prepare for Thanksgiving. How can you include your third grader as you pass on a family tradition?
They are ready. They are ready to jump… right… in.
I tried to post last week but unfortunately it did not log on. I wanted to speak of my love for “Porch Lies” told to me by my father in great dialect and my love for country music especially the music of June and Johnny Cash. Mrs. Campbell and I have laughed often and hard about people getting caught in the Briar Patch or being thrown in ourselves. But most of all I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Campbell for her love and devotion to children. I am so pleased that she is FINALLY writing her stories because I have been a blessed beneficiary of most of them and I wanted others to share in my joy. I am pleased to say I have had two (very different, I might add) children pass through Room 204 and one will always remain there:) Lastly, I wish her and her wonderful family a very happy Thanksgiving – we have so much to be thankful for with Matthew’s safe return and the success of all of her and Mr. Campbell’s children. And I am thankful to have such a loving, trusted, moral compass in my life!
So thrilled you got my girl jumping rope! We need to get a good long rope around this house!