Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack is a popular hand-clapping game and nursery rhyme that is believed to have originated in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The rhyme was created by African-American children who would sit or stand opposite to each other and then have fun singing and clapping to the song.

It is said to pay tribute to Mary Mack, a performer in Ephraim Williams’s circus back in the 1880s. The song pays homage to her and the circus performances with elephants. 

Today, along with Pat a Cake, Mary Mack is one of the most popular hand-clapping games in playgrounds. There are actually a number of versions of the singing game. All of them involve clapping one’s hands, crossing hands over the chest, and clapping the thighs in a different order as you sing. 

Originally, the song was first published in Henry Carrington Bolton’s book, The Counting Out Rhymes of Children, in 1888. 

Miss Mary Mack Hand Clap Game

Generally, all you need to play this simple game is two people and a good sense of rhythm. Here are the motions to play the Miss Mary Mack hand-clapping game:

Clap your own hands
Cross your arms in front of your chest
Clap your own hands again
Clap hands with partner thrice (to the tune of Mack Mack Mack or back back back etc).

Miss Mary Mack Lyrics

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black,
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother,
for 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants (or hippos or cows)
Jump the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high,
they reached the sky, sky, sky,
And didn’t come back, back, back,
Till the 4th of July ly, ly.

She asked her mother, mother, mother,
For 5 cents more, more, more
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump the door, door, door.

They jumped to the flow, flow, flow,
they stubbed their toe toe toe
and that was the end end end
of the elephant show show show.

Miss Mary Mack Music Sheet