The traditional Spanish game, Debajo del puente (Under the Bridge), has several versions. It is a hand-clapping game and is also used as a jump-rope rhyme. The hand-clapping game ends with the kids freezing in place and trying not to laugh or move. As the words indicate, the first one who moves gets a pinch. Kids love this game, but be sure they know that the pinch should not be hard!
Rhymes like this are wonderful for pronunciation and also for absorbing the structures of Spanish. Because children memorize rhymes, they can produce quantities of Spanish with correct sounds and grammar. This helps them learn the rhythm and the deep structure of the Spanish language.
Of course, it is important that children understand what the rhyme means. One simple way to do this is by drawing a picture of a snake under a bridge brushing his teeth. You can also teach the rhyme with gestures. Use your hands to make a bridge, a slithering snake, and brush your teeth. Nod your head yes for verdad que sí and shake your head no for verdad que no.
This is one common version of the Spanish game Debajo del puente. Any simple hand-clapping pattern will do, such as: clap, right to right, clap, left to left, clap, both hands. You can hear this Spanish game by clicking on the audio link.
The translation is word-for word, with no attempt to keep the rhythm or rhyme. I include it here for adults learning Spanish with their children.
Audio of Spanish game – Debajo del puente (hand-clapping)
Debajo del puente / Under the bridge
había una serpiente, / there was a snake
lavándose los dientes / brushing his teeth
con agua caliente. / with hot water.
¿Verdad que sí?/ Isn’t that right?
Tilín, tilín, / Tilín, tilín
¿Verdad que no? / Isn’t that wrong?
Tolón tolón, / Tolón, tolón
Si te mueves o te ríes, / If you move or you laugh,
te daré un pellizcón. / I will give you a pinch.
This is another version of this Spanish hand-clapping game.
Debajo de un puente,
había una serpiente
Lavándose los dientes
con agua caliente
Si dice que sí,
chi qui, chi qui chi,
Si dice que no,
do bo, do bo do
Si te ríes o te mueves,
te daré un pellizcón.
The words are slightly different when the rhyme is used as a jump rope rhyme. This is one common version and a translation. If the child jumping rope answers no, she keeps jumping. If she answers yes, she runs out.
Audio of Spanish game – Debajo de un puente (jump-rope game)
Debajo de un puente / Under a bridge
había una serpiente / there was a snake
con ojos de cristal / with glass eyes
para ir al hospital. / to go to the hospital
¿Quiere usted salir? / Do you want to go?
The last line can also be:
¿Quieres salir de aquí, sí o no? / Do you want to leave here, yes or no?