Sunday, November 13, 2011

Concentration 64 Handclap Game (YouTube videos and text examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Revision: March 21, 2021

This pancocojams post showcases some YouTube videos of the hand game "Concentration 64" and other names.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos, and thanks to all those who are quoted in
this post.
Click for more videos of Concentration 64 hand clap games.

 Note: There's another handclap game called "Concentration" (children are dying), but's that not the game I'm talking about. For examples of that game, click the Mudcat: Concentration game link that was previously given.

For no particular reason, I woke up this morning thinking about the children's handclap game "Concentration 64". I collect children's playground rhymes, so it's not unusual for me to think about that subject. But for some time I've wondered about the significance of the number "64" in that Concentration handclap game.

In case you're unfamilar with this handclap game, here's an example:

CONCENTRATION 64 (Example #1)
I used to play a game called concentration
all the girls played it
it was like this

concentration(clap clap clap)
64(clap clap clap)
no repeat(clap clap clap)
or hesitation(clap clap clap)
I'll go first(clap clap clap)
you go last(clap clap clap)
the category is(clap clap clap)
______________ (fill it in your self.)

you slapped each others hands while you were saying the words and after the category name the person had to say something in that category without repeating what someone had already said or hesitating or they were out.
-Guest, just visiting ,Origins: Concentration (kids' game); ; 11/11/2011 (hereafter given as "Mudcat: Concentration game")
For the record, "Concentration 64" isn't only a "girl's game", though it does appear that, like other handclap, it is mostly played by females. Judging from the examples posted on YouTube and on various other internet sites, including my no longer active website, versions of "Concentration 64" are played in various nations throughout the world.

Also judging from YouTube videos & websites of children's rhymes, "Concentration 64" is the most commonly used name for that handclap game in the United States. But that game has other names in the USA such as "Concentration", "Hands Up To (or "Hands For") 85", "Hands Up To One Eighty Five", and "Hands Down Vanilla Five". I've also collected an example which starts with the line "Nintendo 64" ("Nintendo" being the brand name of a very popular video game in the 1980s). An example with that name is found below.

In addition to it being a fun to play, "Concentration" helps children develop and reinforce memory skills, language development, and coordination. That mildly competitive hand game also helps children learn how to be team players. And it's not just kids who play it.

Contrary to some folks who "study" children's rhymes, chants & singing game songs and who are satisfied with the belief that most of the words in those rhymes don't have to mean anything, I think that children often want the rhymes that they recite or sing to make sense.

Here are two possible theories for the line "concentration 64".
Prefacing note about these theories:
I think that theory #1 explains the word "concentration" and may explain why there is a number in that game title, even if it doesn't explain why the number is "64". Theory #2 may also explain the use of a number in that game title, even if it doesn't quite explain why that number is "64". It's possible that both of these theories or neither of these theories are the source of the name "Concentration 64" and/or similar phrases.

Theory #1: A Card Game
The title of the children's playground hand game "Concentration 64" came from the deck of cards game "Concentration".

"Concentration, also known as Memory, Pelmanism, Shinkei-suijaku, Pexeso or simply Pairs, is a card game in which all of the cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up over each turn. The object of the game is to turn over pairs of matching cards. Concentration can be played with any number of players or as solitaire and is an especially good game for young children, though adults may find it challenging and stimulating as well. The scheme is often used in quiz shows and can be employed as an educational game...

Any deck of playing cards may be used, although there are special cards available, as shown in the picture above. The rules given here are for a standard deck of 52 cards, which are normally laid face down in 4 rows of 13 cards each. The two jokers may be included for a tableau of 6 rows of 9 cards each.

In turn each player chooses two cards and turns them face up. If they are of the same rank and color (e.g. 6 of hearts and 6 of diamonds, queen of clubs and queen of spades, or both jokers, if used) then that player wins the pair and plays again. If they are not of the same rank and color, they are turned face down again and play passes to the player on the left. The game ends when the last pair has been picked up. The winner is the person with the most pairs, and there may be a tie for first place."

Even if the source of the word "concentration" is the card game "Concentration", I believe that word also refers to what people playing this game are doing and what people playing that game need to have in order to play the game well. Having good concentration is the essence of this game. That's why the second line that is recited is usually "no repeats and no hesitations". That line sets up the rules to the game. Players can't repeat what has already been said and can't hesitate. They must say something in that particular category without hesitating. The prohibition against hesitating in this handclap game may also be because the players must remain "on beat". If a player repeats or hesitates than she (or he) is out of the game. The last person in the game is the winner.

Theory #2: Walkie Talkie or Ham Radio Jargon
The only walkie-talkie jargon I know is "10-4" which I think means "okay" or "I'm finish talking". However, I'm not sure if "64" means anything in walkie talkie jargon or ham radio jargon. If those numbers aren't from walkie talkie or ham radio cultures, it's possible that children may have thought that "64" meant the same as "10-4".

But, I'm very leery of the theory that the original name used for this game was "Concentration 10-4" and children changed that name to "Concentration 64". If that were so, you would think that a few people would still be using that old name. However, I've never heard or read of anyone saying "Concentration 10-4".

Click for information about hand-held portable, bi-directional radio transceivers called "walkie talkies".

"Concentration 64" may have been the earliest phrase that was used for these handclap games. However, because of folk processing, children (and people of other ages) playing this game started using other names for this game such as "Concentration One Eighty Five", or "Hands Down Vanilla Five", or "Nintendo 64".

"Folk processing" (also known as "folk etymology") occurs when a person mishears or misremembers a word or words of a spoken or written composition. "Folk etymology" also occurs when a person repeats and passes on to others a word or that was "folk processed".

Some "folk processed" words can be localized or personalized referents, i.e. substituting a local place name or another person's name for a word or words even if they don't sound the same.) Or a word or word can be updated).

Sometimes brand names are substituted for other words. "Nintendo 64" is an example of this. "Nintendo" is a brand name of popular (or once popular) video game.

Here are a few more examples of this rhyme.
(Example #1 is posted above. These examples are given in no particular order.)

HANDS DOWN VANILLA FIVE (Concentration handclap game, Example #2)
How about this: remember this game that was played, usually with five or more people, and you have to name a certain number of things that was related to a particular subject? The chant went something like this:

Hands down vanilla five (Clap Clap)
Gonna get (Clap Clap)
One a-piece (Clap Clap)
To no a-piece (Clap Clap)
No Hesitation...(Clap Clap)
No Demonstration (Clap Clap)
Subject (Clap Clap)
Names of (Clap Clap) (enter subject name here)" Usually, the subject name was boys, or cars, or teachers....and after each round, the number of things you had to name went up....that used to be my FAVORITE GAME!! lol"
-PrettyPetite (African American woman; Atlanta, Georgia by way of Miami, Florida;; 12/29/2000

NINTENDO 64 (Concentration handclap game, Example #3)
Nintendo 64,
no repeats or hesitations
starting with the name of... (anything usually colors, boys, girls, cars, toys, tv shows, movies, etc) they keep up the hand beat and shouting names to someone messes up whoever is left at the end is the winner.
-Guest KLC, (East Harlem, New York, New York, ; Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?; July 11, 2008

HANDS UP FOR ONE EIGHTY-FIVE (Concentration handclap game, Example #4)
Hands up for one eighty-five (clap-clap)
It's gonna be (clap-clap)
A big surprise (clap-clap)
No repeats (clap-clap)
No hesitations (clap-clap)
No demonstrations (clap-clap)
Starting with (clap-clap)
Names... (clap-clap)
Of... (clap-clap)
(colors, girls, boys, etc...) (clap-clap)... repeat names until someone loses.

The first person to repeat, hesitate, or demonstrate any word lost the game.

Multiple people stood in a circle and clapped hands with kids to the right and left of them. If only 2 people, they faced each other.

I now play this game with my kids. They love it!
-Guest, Melissa; "Mudcat: Concentration game"; 6/2/2010

CONCENTRATION 64 (Concentration hand game, Example #5)
This is the concentration game I use to play when I was a kid...

1)One person chants concentration repeats or hesitations...i'll start by naming names

2)And then the person who was chanting names a name

3) Then this process continuing to alternate until someone hesitates or can"t name a name. A name can not be repeated.

NOTE: The beat that continues is like 2 double low fives (like in the game of slaps) and then 3 fast claps. This process continues until the end of the game.
-Guest, blank; "Mudcat: Concentration game"; Origins: Concentration (kids' game); 6/24/2010

ZING ZING ZING (Concentration handclap game, Example #6)
Zing-zing-zing, and away we go
To the Jackie Gleason studio.*
Calaree! Calarah!
One apiece,
No repeats
Or hesitations
Or demonstrations!
Name some...

Foods: "Ham." "Turkey." "Eggs." "Cheeseburger." "Bacon," "Sausage." "Hot dog." "Watermelon." "What?" "Watermelon." "Toast."
"Hamburger." "I said hamburger." "No you didn't," ALL: "Yes she did. You out!"
Cars: "Mustang. ""Pinto." "What!? What you all naming? Oh." "Mustang II." "Firebird." "Mercury." "Cutlass Supreme." "Cadillac."
"Mustang." "Supreme II." "Cutlass S." "Um ...F'irebird." "You out!"
-Washington, D.C., schoolgirls, vocals.
Old Mother Hippletoe: Rural and Urban Children's Songs (Recorded in 1976 at the Smithsonian Institution Festival of American Folklife, Washington, D.C.; New World NW 29);
This is the earliest version of a Concentration handclap rhyme that I've collected (This doesn't mean that it's the earliest version).

Note that this example doesn't include the word "Concentration". Nor does it include the number "64" or any other number.

The lines "Zing Zing Zing and away we go/To the Jackie Gleason studio/Calaree! Calarah!" serve as an introduction to this rhyme. The "no repeats or hesitation or demonstration" line states the rules for playing this particular handclap game. The actual game begins with the "name of ___" phrase. "No demonstrations" probably means that people aren't allowed to gives clues about the word, or act out the word as is done in the game of "charades". While the words "no repeats or hesitation" is often found in "Concention 64" hand games, the words "no demonstration" appears to have been dropped from those hand games.
*Here's some information about "Jackie Gleason":
"The Jackie Gleason Show is the name of a series of popular American network television shows that starred Jackie Gleason, which ran from 1952 to 1970."
The reference to "The Jackie Gleason Show" may be explained by those schoolgirls learning that rhyme from older siblings who may have actually watched that television show. Or those schoolgirls could have watched reruns of that show. This example and other examples of "Concentration" demonstrate how culture is often captured in children's playground rhymes. For example, children, teens, or adults playing that same game in 2011 may still choose "names of cars" as a category. And those playing that game would still have to concentrate to make sure that they didn't repeat what was previously said. Also, when it was their turn to call out a name of a car, those players still would have to do so "on beat" with "no hesitation". However, in 2011 the names of cars would be very different than those names given in 1976.
"Zing zing zing" is used as an introductory phrase for a number of other African American playground rhymes. For instance, that phrase is part of one possible introduction to the widely known "Tweeleelee" ("Rockin Robin") handclap rhyme:

"Zing zing zing
Like a washin machine
All the little birdies on jaybird street
Love to hear the robin sing
Tweet tweet tweet
Rockin robin"

Here are two video examples of "Concentration 64" rhymes:

Video #1: Concentration 64

uploaded by sbgal8; July 14, 2007

Video #2: Concentration 64

Uploaded by tianshiangel on Feb 12, 2008

Editor's Note: At the end of this video one of the player's asked about the meaning of the number "64". The girl who was doing the chanting answered that it just rhymed. However, "64" doesn't rhyme with the word "concentration" or anything else that was said in that rhyme.

Added videos - July 18, 2017:
Example #3: Concentration 64

Jacki D, Published on Nov 30, 2014

Clapping game with Kara & Mommy

Concentration (#19)

WAFLT Educational Energizers, Published on Oct 16, 2016

Teacher divides the class into small groups or partners. The students start the energizer by saying in unison and in the target language, "Concentration, 64, no repeats, or hesitations, I go first (one student), and you second (indicate to another student), category is...(select category)." This should be in a rhythmic manner with hand clapping. In a group, students can do two claps by themselves followed by two claps with the people next to them (see video). The introduction saying in unison can be altered to whatever works best with your target language so that the syllables match up with the rhythm. After students select the category, which can also be selected by the teacher, the students go in a circle and say a word in the rhythm that belongs in the category. If a student hesitates or repeats a word that's been said, they are out of the game. Students who get out of the game can start up a new game. When the game gets down to two people, the two students can do two claps followed by two criss-cross claps with their partner (see video). The clapping continues throughout the whole game to keep the rhythm.

Added July 19, 2017

Peyton & Nyrie Hand Clapping Game

Carolyn Gamble, Published on Jun 9, 2013

Here's a video from Haiti of school girls playing a handclap game. I'm not sure what the girls are saying but the game has the same beat as "Concentration" and it appears that the game is played the same way.

Haitian Children playing in Santos Schoolyard

Uploaded by steveappleg8 on Jul 26, 2010

MVI 3758, recorded July 21 2010. Mission trip to Port au Prince Haiti, St. Andrew Baptist Church.
Notice that the publisher of this video indicates that the video was taken during a mission trip to Haiti. It's likely that this is an example of a game that Americans (or people from another nation) taught children from the nation that they were visiting. That is one way that games become known throughout the world.

However, notice how the girls put their hands on their hips after they clap their hands. I haven't seen that style of playing "Concentration" in the USA.

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  1. Hello, this is Azizi's daughter, Tazi. I was looking @ this post reminiscing on old childhood game songs. I noticed that the way I played/sang "Concentration" isn't listed :-(

    Here is how I remember playing Concentration starting in second or third grade.

    A group of girls sat in a circle & we made a beat by tapping the top of our legs & snapping our fingers. I don't remember playing this game standing up and I never saw it done as a hand clap game.

    We broke the word "concentration" into two parts: "Concen" and then "tration". While chanting "concen" we hit our right leg with our right hand.

    Next we hit our left leg while chanting "tration".

    Then we snapped two times, first with our right hand and then with our left hand. This pattern continued throughout the entire chant. Btw: This beat pattern sounds the same as "stomp stomp clap clap/stomp stomp clap clap". The song "We Will Rock You" has the same beat. I'm sorry if this is confusing. I looked for but didn't find any video of this :-(

    It's understood that messing up the beat, repeating, pausing (hesitating) will cause you to be out. If you mess up the beat, people would be upset with you and say something like "You can't even stay on beat". You say your answer when you are hitting your leg (your lap). But, remember, the answer has to be broken up into two syllables.

    Here's how to make the beat
    #1 = hit the right side of your lap
    #2 = hit the left side of your lap
    #3 = snap your fingers on your right hand
    #4 = snap your fingers on your left hand

    1. concen
    2. tration
    1. Are you
    2. ready
    1. let's
    2. go
    3. you snap with your right hand and say "take it snap with you left hand: "slow"
    2. forget
    3. to blow
    4. your nose.
    2. of [someone designated as the leader of this game says a category for example, colors, sports, famous singers, animals etc]
    The person sitting to the right of the leader has to come up with an answer that fits that category. It then goes clockwise.

    Continue this pattern. If someone gave the answer on a snap, the person would be out. Sometimes people said (using the same beat pattern) "Your out. Stay out".

    Also, when someone got out, we would close the circle up by moving closer together. We didn't start from the beginning. The leader would start from "Names of " and would pick a whole new category.

    Once the game started no new person could join in until the next game.

    I remember "Concentration" being a challenging game because you are doing several things at the same time. You must maintain the beat, think of multiple answers to fit the category because if someone who went before you said the answer that you were going to say, you had to come up with a new answer.
    It's called "concentration" for a reason.

    The key to playing this game well was to think of answers that fit the category but weren't commonly used. For example, for colors you could say "ultra-violet" or "copper" and not colors like "red " or "blue". The reason you'd do this is because people knew that the number one way that people got out was when someone said your answer and you had to quickly come up with a new answer.

    I hope this helps!

    1. Thanks, Tazi, for sharing your memories of the "Concentration" game with pancocojams readers.

      You wrote that the "hit hit snap snap" beat pattern that you used for that game is very much like the "stomp stomp clap clap" beat pattern. For those who may not be familiar with that pattern, that is one of the beats that is used for what I call "foot stomping cheers". Another beat pattern for those cheers is "stomp clap stomp stomp clap". "Hula Hula" "Shabooya Roll Call" and "Cheerleader Roll Call" are somewhat familiar examples of foot stomping cheers. Some people call those cheers "steps".

      You also wrote that once the "Concentration" game players started the beat pattern, they were supposed to stay on beat throughout the entire game. The same rule applies to foot stomping cheers. is one of several pancocojams post that I've published about foot stomping cheers.

  2. Hi! I'm 19 now and can remember playing this same game when I was in probably first grade through fourth grade, but in my area (New Jersey) the words went as follows:

    Don't repeat
    Or hesitate
    I'll go first
    You'll go next
    Category is:

    Usually only two people played, and the category was usually "Names" if the other player was learning how to play for the first time. I can't recall the hand motions/exact beat, but I know it's similar to the other versions on the internet.

    1. Thanks, Kara for sharing your memories of this game and also for sharing demographical information (your age, the grades that you were in when you played this game, and the geographical area you lived in).

      I'm also from New Jersey. I went to school in Atlantic City New Jersey from the 1950s to 1965, and I don't remember playing "Concentration 48" [or Concentration + some other number]. Of course, that doesn't mean that it wasn't played there by some other children and teens

  3. Has anyone heard of the version below? I heard it growing up in NYC in the 2000s. (Claps are omitted as they are the same)

    No repeats
    Or hesitations
    I'll start out
    By naming names
    Of ___________
    And that's our game....

    This version sounds better than the "category is" version.

    1. Thanks for sharing that example with demographic information, Anonymous.

      I'm curious if anyone else reading this post remembers saying "...names of ..." and then giving names from specific categories.

  4. Psst, maybe you're not aware, but the "Nintendo 64" is an actual game console from 1996 and is very unlikely to just a reference to the original Nintendo Entertainment System. (also Nintendo continued making successful game consoles to this day - surely you've heard of the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo Switch?)

    There were also other computer electronics hardware ending in 64 such as Commodore 64 (1982) and Athlon 64 (2003), but in each instance the 64 actually means something (whether memory amount or bit depth).

    The Commodore 64 was quite a popular home computer that also had moderately catchy commercials ("are you keeping up with the commodore?") and I'm wondering if maybe someone somewhere combined its "64" name with the "Concentration" game's name. I say this as someone that grew up in the late 90s where PlayStation was more popular yet "64" was still used with the hand-clap game, meaning its use of "64" very likely predates the Nintendo 64.

    1. Nintendo Maniac 64, thanks for sharing that information.

      I confess that I didn't know that and also had never heard of Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and Ninetendo Swith.

      I should have done some research on Nintendo before publishing that post, but thanks to you other people who didn't know, now know this information.