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The History of the Jump Rope

While the origins of the jump rope are somewhat murky, we do know that the jump rope was brought to America by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. At first, jumping rope was considered exclusively a game for boys. Then in the 1800s, groups of girls began to play with jump ropes. They did so against the recommendation of most advice books, which cautioned against too much physical activity. As leisure time increased throughout the 19th century, girls began to jump rope in increasing numbers, and by the early 1900s, there were clear lines between jump rope games for boys and girls. Boys’ games were usually centered around competition, while girls typically jumped rope in groups and developed various rhythmic songs to go with their jumping. Some, like the well-known “teddy bear, teddy bear” rhyme, emphasized acrobatic skills and called for specific movements, while others, like “Cinderella,” were centered around relationships. Over time, jumping rope also became a popular athletic activity for adults. Today, children of all genders enjoy jumping rope either solo or in groups, and many of the songs developed by past generations are still in use, many with only minor lyrical alterations.

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