My kids played lots of different hand clapping games in Spanish and English. There are many juegos de manos (also called juegos de palmas, or juegos de palmadas) in Spanish, and they have fun songs and actions. Also, in Spanish it is common to play these games in groups, not just in pairs. It takes a little practice, but kids love it. Hand clapping games are great for learning Spanish because they combine movement, rhythm and language. Children memorize the rhymes or songs, learning new structures and vocabulary as they play. I will write about more hand clapping games in the next few days.
One of the simplest juegos de manos is Marinero que se fue a la mar y mar y mar. This is a good first hand clapping game because there is an English version that children may know. (A Sailor went to Sea, Sea, Sea). This is the most common version of the words:
Marinero que se fue a la mar y mar y mar, / A sailor went to sea, sea, sea
para ver que podía ver y ver y ver. / to see what he could see, see see.
Y lo único que pudo ver y ver y ver, / And all that he could see, see, see
fue el fondo de la mar y mar y mar y mar. / was the bottom of the sea, sea, sea.
Like lots of traditional games, the words and actions of Marinero que se fue a la mar vary slightly from country to country. Any simple clapping pattern works. Here is one example.
Lots of children play with an action that reinforces the meaning for the verb ver (to see). When you sing ver y ver y ver, touch your hand to your forehead as if you are sheltering your eyes from the sun in order to see. This link is to a video of a very little girl and her mom who play Marinero que se fue a la mar that way.
This link is to the children’s song El marinero fue al mar. The first verse is a version of the traditional clapping game, although the tune and words are slightly different than the one my kids know. Even though this is not the version we sing in my family, I like it for Spanish language learners. The word mar can be feminine, as it is in the other versions of the song, however, it is most commonly masculine. This version uses mar as a masculine noun, eliminates the extra syllable y, and uses the word profundo (deep). Associating profundo with mar children learn and remember the word. These are the words to the first verse.
El marinero fue al mar, mar, mar,
a ver que podía ver, ver, ver.
Pero lo único que pudo ver, ver, ver,
fue el fondo del profundo mar, mar, mar.