How to play Ring a Ring o’ roses.

Hands are for Helping

 By Richard Teahon


Children have been playing Ring a Ring o’roses for hundreds of years.  Many historians, which are people that study events and occurrences from the past, believe the rhyme came about because of the bubonic plague, or the Great plague of London in 1655.

A plague is an illness, or disease.

To play the game which is sometimes called Rings around the Rosie, you need two or more people.  If none of your friends are around to play the game, ask your mum or dad.

Everyone who is playing the game joins hands, and forms a circle.

Everyone walks around in a circle.  It is important you travel in the same direction.

As everyone walks they sing this song:

Ring a Ring o’roses

Pocket full of poises

atishoo, atishoo,

We all fall down!

When the word down is sung, everyone falls to the ground!

Then this song is sung:

When our mother calls us

We all jump up!

And everyone jumps up in the air!

In America, this song is sung instead:

Ring around the Rosey

Pocket full of poises

ashes, ashes,

We all fall down!

In Canada, the song is sung this way:

Ring around a Rosey

Pocket full of posey

husha, husha,

We all fall down!

And if you were an Indian child, you would sing it like this:

Ring a Ring o’roses

Pocket full of poses

husha, busha

We all fall down!

As you can see there are lots of different versions to sing!  Which one do you sing, and which one do you like the best?

During the time of the first outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1347, one of the symptoms was a red ‘rosey’ rash, and sneezing.  Which I’m sure you have noticed is like the song, and the falling down bit is what happened to people that had caught the disease.  Poises, were herbs which people carried in their pockets which they believed protected them against the deadly plague.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Evelyn Saenz

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