Playing tag on the playground is a typical game for school-age children. A game of tag consists of children forming a group with one child chosen as “it”. The child is chosen to be “it” by using the nursery rhyme Eenie meenie miny moe. The child who is chosen as “it” then chases the other children around the playground until they tag someone by touching them with their hand. The child says “Tag! You’re it!” once they touch the child they caught up. Then the game continues as the new child who is “it” chases the other kids in the group until they tag someone.
How the Rhyme Eenie Meenie Miny Moe Works
Eenie meenie miny moe is what would be categorized as counting out or counting rhyme. The rhyme works by children or one child saying the rhyme out loud while one child points to each child in the group while switching to point to a new child at each syllable of the rhyme. Once they reach the end of the rhyme the child being pointed at is the chosen one for the game of tag.
The Words to the Eenie Meenie Miny Moe Rhyme
There are many different variations on this type of counting out nursery rhymes. The modern rhyme goes something like the following:
“Eenie meenie miny moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe,
If he hollers, let him go,
Eenie meenie miny moe.”
The Origins of the Rhyme Eenie Meenie Miny Moe
The first known version of a rhyme similar to Eenie meenie miny moe was a counting out rhyme that children recited in New York City during the year 1815. This version can be traced to have expanded to being used by children throughout the US, Ireland, and Scotland during by the 1880s. The rhyme was not really that close to the modern Eenie meenie miny moe rhyme. It was similar in length and the nature of how it was used.
Another version of the Eenie meenie miny moe rhyme that is a bit closer to the modern version was used in Germany. This rhyme dates back to the 1800s. The German rhyme is very similar in the beginning but deviates in the other lines of the rhyme.
The author Rudyard Kipling -most well known for writing The Jungle Book- wrote a version of the rhyme in his Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides book that was published in 1935. The rhyme is titled: “A Counting-Out Song”. This version became popular in the United Kingdom and is very similar to the modern version used by children today.
The Skills to Learn from the Rhyme
Children learn how to rhyme, logical reasoning out skills, and social skills by incorporating the rhyme Eenie meenie miny moe into their games of tag on the playground. A game of tag also teaches kids fine motor skills. Playing tag helps kids observe, run, stalk, and hiding.