Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Some Relatively Clean Examples Of The Rockin Robin (Twee lee lee) Hand Clap Rhyme

Sharon Humes, August 31, 2020
There are a number of YouTube videos of children performing the "Rockin Robin" hand clap game.

I selected this video to show how adults (and particularly men) have also performed this rhyme. 

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents some text (word only) relatively clean examples of the "Rockin Robin" hand clap rhyme. This rhyme is also called "Twee lee lee" or similar words.

This post also includes some editorial notes about some of these featured examples.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composers of "Rockin Robin" rhymes and thanks to the unknown and known persons who composed and/or performed songs that are the source for the "Rockin Robin" rhyme. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for an analysis of the textual structure of and common verses for the "Rockin Robin" hand clap rhyme.

Also, click, and for closely related pancocojams posts on this rhyme. WARNING: some of these posts are about dirty African American songs that are the source for some verses in longer versions of the "Rockin Robin" hand clap rhyme.   


These are some of the relatively clean versions of "Rockin Robin".

swing swing swing to the usa

hey hey

rockin in a tree to

all day long

huffin and a puffin

and singin that song

all the lil birdies on jaybird street

love to here therobins

go tweet tweet tweet


rockin robin

tweet tweetalee rockin

robin tweet tweetalee


mama in he kitchen cookin fried rice

daddy oUt side shootin some dice

brothA in jail drinkin gingerale

sista roun te corner sellin FRUIT COCTAIL


rockin robin tweet tweetalee

rockin robin tweet tweetalee


batman and robin flyin in the air

batman lost his underwear

batmn said i dont care cause

robin goin to by me azillion more pair


rockin robin tweet tweetalee


iwent down town to getsum btta*

saw james brown sittin ina gutta

gotta piece of glass stuck it up his

i neva seen a black man

runso fast

rockinrobin tweet tweet alee

- j-mil; 3/19/2005 ; (African American male; Maryland),


btta=butta (butter)
This link is no longer active. (also known as "Whee Blog") was a multi-page blog with a small group of members who knew each other off-line. My understanding from communicating by email with one of those members was that the page of playground rhymes was the only page that was open to non-members. I added several examples of rhymes on that page, and asked j-mill if he would share information about his race and state. Thankfully, he did so for the folkloric record.



...remember hand games....


tweedle tweedle dee


tweedle tweedle dee


tweet baby tweet baby

your mama says

she rocks in a treetop

all day long

huffin and puffin

and saying a song

all the little birds

james bell street

love the little robins

go tweet tweet tweet


rockin robin

tweet tweet tweet

rockin robin

tweet tweet tweet


i went down town to get a stick of butter

and saw james brown sitting (people cursed on my block) in the gutter

i took a piece of glass and stuck it up his (you know what)

i never saw a (kids are mean) run so fast.

we even played that in college.

hmmm...those hand games were violent and had curses in them, huh?

holla at me if you remember

-MaMaBuddha; [African American female]; Harlem, New York, New York}; 7/31/2000],


Note: Commenters on this blog were members of Black Greek lettered sororities who lived in the United States and were sharing their memories of childhood games.



There was also the street Rockin Robin that I heard/played in the same [Boston summer] camps.

Tweedily diddly dee(3x)

tweet tweet, your breath stinks.

Rockin' in the treetop all day long

huffin' and a puffin' just singin' that song

all the little birdies on jail bird street

love to hear the birdies go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet

All the little birdies on jail bird street tonight

tweet tweet tweet

Momma's in the kitchen, cookin' rice

Daddy's on the corner, shootin' dice

Brother's in jail, raisin' hell

Sister's on the corner selling fruit cock tail


Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet

All the little birdies on jail bird street tonight

tweet tweet tweet

-Guest, Spain (Boston, Mass); ,I'm Rubber. You're Glue: Children's Rhymes, 5/30/2006



Tweet baby tweet baby,

my mama said:

shes rocking in the tree top

all day long

huffing and a puffing and singing that song

all the little girls on dainburn street

love to hear the birds go tweet tweet tweet,

rocking robin tweet twirly

rocking robin tweet twirly.

Batman and robin flying in the air

batman lost his underwear

batman says I don't care

mamas gonna buy me a brand new pair,

rocking robin tweet twirly

rocking robin tweet twirly,

I went down town to get a stick a butter

all i saw was james brown sitting in a gutter

took a piece of glass shoved it up his ahhhhh...

never saw a motha sucka run so fast (crazy isnt it)

rocking robin tweet twirly

rockin robin tweet twirly,

went to the movies to see king kong

all I saw was a rubber ding dong

rocking robin tweet twiyly

rocking robin tweet twirly,

mothers in the kitchen cooking rice,

poppa's in the bathroom shooting dice,

brothers in jail raising hell,

sister's in the corner selling fruit cocktail

rocking robin (some children sing other parts not to sure what they are, the words were the same since I was young but now they add things that relate to their time)

-Guest KLC,(East Harlem, New York, New York, ; Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?; July 11, 2008

In response to my request for demographical information, KLC posted this information on that same Mudcat thread:

"The children that play these games range from 5 - 12 years old. Both boys and girls play these games but girls are more into it and know a lot more hand games then the boys. The children that I see playing these games are Hispanic, African American, Caribbean, Caucasian and Asian because that is the population that I serve at my program."



the new one is "ching ching ching to the rythm to the beat,were gonna rock to the tree top all night long huffin n a puffin n a singing that song,all the lil birdies on daver's street huffin and a puiffin singin tweet tweet tweet,rockin robins ,tweet-tweet a-leet,rockin robins,tweet-tweet a-leet,momma's in the kitchen,cookin fried chicken,daddy's in bed,half-way dead,sister's in school acting all cool/like a fool,brother's in jail eating fruit cock tail.!!

-Larasgun3, "Rockin Robin", 2011


Note: Another common version of the "brother's in jail" line that I've read since at least 2005 or so is "brother's in jail/drinkin ginger ale".

Unfortunately, because YouTube's policy is to disallow comments on children's videos, examples such as this one and others from YouTube comment threads in this post have been deleted along with other comments.. 



Twee lee lee

Tree top

Twee lee lee

My bra

Popscicle popscicle

Your breath stinks.

He rocks in the treetop all day long

huffin' and a puffin' and singin' that song.

all the little birdies on jay bird street

love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet.

Momma's in the kitchen, cookin' rice.

Daddy's outside shootin' dice .

Brother's in jail ringin that bell.

Sister's outside playing fruit cock tail.

I went to the store to get a stick of butter

I saw Chris Brown singing in the gutter .

He had a piece of glass stuck up his sssh

I never knew a Black man run so fast.

-Naijah S. (African American girl, age 9, Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) ; January 14, 2011; collected by Azizi Powell

Editor's notes:
I had the good fortune of collecting several examples of rhymes from Naijah when she came early to an African storytelling presentation that I did in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After she shared other rhymes with me, I specifically asked Naijah did she know the rhyme "Twee lee lee". She said yes, she had been thinking of that rhyme [to share with me], but it wasn't a good rhyme. I said yes, I know what she meant, but I asked her to share that rhyme with me for the sake of the collection. Without any further hesitation, Naijah began reciting that rhyme.

Naijah was very reluctant to say the word "bra". When I reassured her that it was alright to say it for the sake of this collection, she spelled out that word. I repeated it out loud to make sure that that was the right word, and Naijah said that was right but that some of the girls who do this (and she said only girls did these rhymes) didn't like saying that word.

Naijah ended her recitation with the "Mama's in the kitchen verse". I asked her did she know another verse, and she said yes, but that "It was bad". I again asked her to share "for the sake of this Internet collection". She then recited the verse that is found above.

Naijah said that some girls say "James Brown" and others say "Chris Brown". She then said that line using the name of "Chris Brown" (who is a currently popular young African American R&B singer and actor).

Naijah said that this was a bad word. I asked her did she know what it was. She said yes, but that when they said this part, she and all her friends said "Sssh! (meaning "Be quiet").



twee twee twee, and the way we go,

so rocking in the tree top,

all the days long,

rocking and puffing and singing the song,

all the little girls from JBC,

like to here the robin go twee twee twee,

go wash bagie,

twee twee twee

jonny and i went to the beach

jonny bruk a bottle and throw it on me,

mom told dad,

dad told mom,

mom got a beaten with a mmm stick,

so freezy american cheese,

don't skin your dirty teeth

colgrate is very cheap.

-babygirl200922, March 2012 (Jamaica)
This example is from a Youtube video and its comment thread that are no longer available. 


"bruk"= broke


Ha i heard of a handshake kinda simliar to this but I don't know the whole thing here it is (dont know if u looking for this)

Swing,Swing,Swing to the U S A Hey hey!

Momma's in the kitchen cooking fried chicken

Dad's in bed half way dead

Sisters at School Looking like a fool (or acting like a fool)

Brothers In Jail Drinking Ginger Ail

And i dont know the rest...”

- GUEST,Kjnnhh22, 17 Dec 10, "Lyr Req: Boogie Woogie ???????????????"


WARNING: Some of the examples on that page contain profanity and sexually explicit references.


When I was younger it went like this

SWing SWing to my limosuene
hey hey then clap x2
Rockin in the tree top alll day long
Huffin n Puffin
n signing that song
all the little birds around my strret ll the little birds go tweet tweet tweet rocka rocka tweet twirly x2
i went downtown to meet Chris Brown he gave me a nickel to buy me a pickel
the pickel was sour he gave me a shower
the shower was cold
he gave me a bowl the bowl was craked and then he gave me a slap

idk bu ththats why we said
-Anonymous,  Dec.24,2019,

.... I grew up in West Philly so this one includes places around there.

Swing Swing Swing to the river stream ( referring to the Schuylkill River)
Hey hey clap 2x
Rocking in the tree top all day long
Huffin n puffin
And singing that song
All the little girls on Cambridge street
like to hear the Robin going tweet tweet tweet
Rockin Robin tweet tweet tweedle 2x
I woke up Saturday morning
Looked up on the wall
I saw a gang of roaches playing basketball
1, 2, tweet tweet tweet
Mama's in the kitchen cooking rice
Daddy's outside shooting dice
Brothers in jail rasing hell
Sisters outside selling fruit cocktail
Chorus I woke up


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