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  • Writer's pictureSheena at Playsongs

Shake the blanket

Here's a bit of grand indoors exercise for wet days, or for fun in the park when the sun comes out. It works for little babies, toddlers and small children, but with different actions for each. Tailor the energy you put into it to suit the development stage of your child. Little babies will need great gentleness and care as you roll them on a soft surface, while a confident small child may be ready for the full back flip. Here's the basic rhyme:

Shake the blanket, Shake the blanket, Turn the blanket OVER!

Little babies of 4-5 months

Babies gradually develop the upper body strength to roll themselves over from front to back, or back to front. Though they will respond to encouragement, eg a favourite toy placed nearby, which they may want to reach, you don't need to help them roll over as they'll do it themselves in their own good time. But you can play roly poly for fun, using the rhyme.

Lie baby on her back on a comfortable but firm surface. Holding baby's hands and forearms, gently rock her from side to side to the rhythm of the rhyme as you slowly say the words. On 'Over', roll her right over onto her front ~ or as far as she's happy to go. Turn her onto her back again and repeat as often as she shows she is enjoying it. Alternate which direction you roll her onto her front.

Bigger babies

This game is more energetic ~ for both of you. Sit in a chair with your legs together stretched out in front. Lie baby on his front on your lower legs, holding him by his arms or upper body. Raise your feet off the ground, swinging him up and down in the air to the beat of the rhyme words. On 'Over', swing him right up and onto his back on your lap. Repeat, starting from that position, and swinging him back onto his front onto your lower legs.


With your toddler standing facing you, take each other's hands. To the beat of the rhyme, shake your joined hands up and down. On 'Over' turn her to face outwards ~ so you end up with crossed arms. Shake your hands again from this position and uncross your arms to bring her back round to face you.

Small children

Try this with a confident small child who has learned the trick of walking up you, holding your hands, and then flipping over to land back on the ground. To the words of the rhyme, jump him up your front and flip him back to the ground on 'Over'.

There are many other ways to play 'shake the blanket' games. Change 'shake' to a different action word and change the game to suit:

'roll', 'wash', 'smooth', 'stroke'…

Stream or download a recording of the rhyme on our Playsongs Rhyme Time collection. It's performed by Kevin Graal with sounds by Stephen Chadwick.

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Molly Attwood
Molly Attwood
Apr 22, 2023


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