Floating Down the River (play party)

Source: Traditional play party from Tennessee. See Nancy & John Langstaff collection, Sally Go Round the Moon.

Directions: Need odd number, at least 9, but 17 is best. Make a circle of 8 (or 16) with one lone child in the center of the ring. Children join hands in one large circle, with the lone child in the center. All circle to the left, singing and circling slowly:

We’re floating down the river
We’re floating down below
We’re floating down the river
To the O-hi-O!

As children circle and sing “we’re floating down the river,” the child in the center slowly spins the opposite direction with arm outstretched, pointing. At the end of “O-hi-O!” wherever her finger points is her new partner in the center. Then she grabs that partner; all sing and clap in place as the two in the center hold hands and spin or jump up and down or whatever they want to do:

Two in the boat and you can’t jump, Josie
Two in the boat and you can’t jump, Josie
Two in the boat and you can’t jump, Josie
Oh my! Susan Brown!

On “Brown,” the children all take that as the signal (as in “settle down, Brown!”) to resume slowly-paced circling to the left as all sing “We’re floating down the river” again. The two children in the center each spin slowly in the opposite direction with arms outstretched and again point to their new partners, grabbing them for the next part:
Four in the boat and you can’t jump, Josie, etc.

This keeps repeating (“Eight in the boat,” “Sixteen in the boat”) until no one is in the outer ring and everyone is jumping in the middle. Be sure to end by having all children join hands in large circle again to finish with a final “We’re floating down the river… to the O-hi-o.” THE END.

EXTRA ENDING: Finally, this is the perfect opportunity to keep hands (“Nobody let go!”) and lead the children in a snake dance that winds up in the center and unwinds again from the center and around the room as the fiddler keeps playing…