Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Children's Circle Game From Ghana, West Africa Whose Movements Are Similar To Two African American Circle Games: "Ride The Pony " & "Little Sally Walker Was Walking Down The Street"

Aliedaleedz, Jul 5, 2011


Latest Update: April 4, 2021

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a children's circle game from Ghana, West Africa that has similar movements as the African American originated circle games "Ride That Pony" and "Little Sally Walker Was Walking Down The Street."

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and entertainment purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube and thanks for all those who are featured in these videos.  

I don't know the title of the children's game performed in Ghana, West Africa which is documented in the first embedded video in this post. However, its performance activities are s very similar to the updated version of "Little Sally Walker" that is called "Little Sally Walker (was walking down the street". I wonder who taught those children that game. Did someone from the United States teach it to Ghanaian children or is it traditionally Ghanaian?

"Little Sally Walker (was walking down the street" and another contemporary children's game ""Ride My Pony" are all examples of a sub-category of "show me your motions" circle games.
In each of those games, the group forms a circle and someone is selected to be the middle person. At some point in the game, the middle person randomly stands in front of someone forming the circle and does some motion. The person who is "picked" does the same motion, and the two exchange places. Then the game immediately begins with the new middle person. I refer to this sub-section of show me your motion circle (ring) games as "switching places" circle games.

My guess is that both "Little Sally Walker (was walking down the street)" and "Ride My Pony" originated with African Americans in the 1990s or later. If you know these games, please share the lyrics you know in the comment section below. For the folkloric record, please remember to include demographic information (when-year or decade, and where-city/state in the USA, or country if outside of the USA), and whether this game was played by girls and boys or mostly played by girls etc. Thank you. 

Click for Part I of a two part cocojams2* series about African American versions of these games. The title for that post is "Switching Places Ring Games (Part 1-Description & Other Comments)." The link to Part II is found in that first post.  

* Cocojams2 is the name of my Google blog that focuses on children's rhymes, cheers, and singing games. Some of the content of that blog was retrieved from my no longer active cultural website.

I've also come across Caribbean examples of this type of show me your motion circle games. One example is "I Went Up On The Hill". That singing game is the first game that is featured in 
Ian Strachan's  2006 documentary film Show Me Your Motion: The Ringplay Games of The Bahamas. 
Click for a pancocojams post entitled "Bahamaian Children's Game Song/Hand Clap Rhyme "I Went Up On The Hill" ("Rock My Cherry"). That post includes several text (word only) examples of that singing game:

Also, click for a video example of that children's circle game. That YouTube video is a trailer for Ian Strachan's 2006 documentary film entitled Show Me Your Motion: The Ringplay Games of The Bahamas. 

WARNING: In this video, the "Rock My Cherry" singing game is performed with tweaking and other sexualized motions.
Update; April 1, 2021
Another Caribbean example of this sub-category of show me your motion circle game is the video of Haitian children's circle games that is given as #2 in this pancocojams post:    .
In response to my question, Lesly, one of the participants in that game, shared the words to that singing game. The words begin with the phrase "
Ya so". I used those words for the title of that singing game along with these words "The foot dance".  Lesly wrote " ...(As we sing this part, the [person in] the inner circle will hit His left foot from the right foot of the others three times,right to the left foot in others three times. Subsequently quitting inside the circle for the people he selected."....



AnnaGraceBananaFace, Feb 25, 2009,

Playing little sally walker in the munchkin room at the show in Irving on the 23rd!!
This singing game is often referred to as "Little Sally Walker Was Walking Down The Street" to differentiate it from the "Little Sally Walker (sitting in a saucer" or the "Little Sally Ann sittin in the sand" circle games. 

Here's the words to that singing game:

Little Sally Walker was walking down the street

[clap, clap]

She didn't know what to do so she stood in front of me.

I said "Oh girl, do your thing, do your thing.
Stop! *
"Oh girl, do your thing, do your thing
The person who the middle person stands in front of watches her do a dance or some other movement.

Then that person (and the rest of the group) imitates that dance  or that movement.
The person who the middle person stands in front of then exchanges places with the middle person and the game immediately begins again from the beginning.

*The word "switch" is sometimes used instead of "stop".


emileetidwell, Oct. 4, 2018,
Here's a quote that explains this singing game's directions while also giving its words:

"Ride That Pony

A fun singing camp game!

To start the game, one person stands in middle of the circle and everyone starts to clap in a rhythm. The person in the middle begins the game by galloping around the circle while the group sings the following song:

Here we go, ride that pony, ride around that big fat pony, this is how we do it. (move in a galloping motion, swinging hand over head)

The middle person then stops in front of someone else and both partners perform the following lines and actions.

Stand facing each other and swing arms in a circle in front of your body, keeping elbows in: "Front to front to front, my baby"

Jump so both are standing next to each other with the same arm motions as before: "Side to side to side, my baby"

Jump one last time so both are facing with backs to each other with the same arm motions are before: "Back to back to back, my baby, this is how we do it.

The person in the middle then switches places with the person they were just dancing with and the game continues until everyone has had a turn in the middle.

Once everyone as gone, the entire group sings all of verses one last time while everyone (not just the partners) do the motions."


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