Home Connections: T-shirt Jump Ropes

by Melissa Harding

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If the cold weather and early nights have started to make you feel a little grey, one way to start bringing color back into your home is crafting. Colorful crafts are great when your family needs a fun, bright pick-me-up. These crafts are even better when they are made out of something that has been repurposed and saved from being thrown in the trash. At Phipps, one of our favorite materials for repurposing is old T-shirts; they can be made into aprons, bags, headbands or anything else that the imagination can think up. We just discovered a new use for T-shirts that we love, combining repurposed crafting with physical fitness: jump ropes!

Jump ropes are a perfect tool to get kids outside and moving. Physical activity plays an important role in every child’s life; an active lifestyle helps control weight, build lean muscle, build strong bones and decrease the risk of obesity. However, cold weather can make being outside uncomfortable for some kids – a colorful jump rope and some jumping games are just the thing to motivate kids to head outside to play!

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Want to try this yourself? Here is how to make your very own T-shirt jump rope:

Materials: Old, large, colorful cotton T-shirts (the larger the T-shirts, the fewer you need) and scissors

Instructions:

  1. Lay the T-shirt stretched out on a flat surface.
  2. Cut 1.5 inch strips horizontally across the body of the shirt, starting from the bottom. You will get long, stretchy loops.
  3. Once the strip is cut, run your hand along the entirety of the strip, stretching and rolling it into a tight loop.
  4. Continue cutting and stretching 1.5 inch strips until you reach the armpit. Optional: You can cut shorter strips from the sleeves, if desired!
  5. Tie three strips of similar length together in one big knot (this will be your handle!).
  6. Braid the loops together until you near the end of the strips and then attach new strips. We suggest looping them through each other to avoid tying knots.
  7. Continue braiding and extending until your jump rope is at the desired length.
  8. Once your jump rope is at an appropriate length for your height, tie the three strips together to make a final large knot (your second handle!).
  9. These jump ropes are easily altered to be longer or shorter. Try making a really long jump rope to jump with a friend.

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Once you have your new jump rope, you need some fun games and activities to do with it. There is much more that you can do with a jump rope besides just jumping; there are many different games, songs and tricks that can make jump roping last all afternoon! We have compiled some of our favorite below:

Jump Roping Activities:

  1. Put the rope under you and just swing it from behind to in front and vice versa. Jump over it each time. Do not lift the rope off the ground. Get a feel for the length of your new jump rope.
  2. Try jumping with both feet, swinging the rope going forward from behind your back.
  3. Try one-legged jumping, switching legs each time. Then try to do 2 per leg in a row. Then 3. Brave enough to try 5 in a row on one leg? 10?
  4. Try going backward, try swinging it faster, try crossing your arms, try crossing your legs!
  5. Snake game for 2+ people: Have an adult swing the rope on the ground around in a circle or semi-circle, so that each person has to jump over the rope when it reaches them. See if you can get 10 in a row as a group.
  6. Partners: Partners stand facing each other about 1’ apart with one partner holding both rope handles. The partner with the rope calls “Ready, Set, Go” and swings the rope up from behind on “Go.” Both begin jumping in unison. Partners continue to jump together with a single or double bounce. (You will need a longer rope for this activity.)
  7. Want to add some fun rhymes? Check out this great list of jump roping rhymes and songs!

This is a great craft to do with large groups of kids as well as at home; scout groups and youth groups can work together to collect T-shirts to repurpose. The more T-shirts the group collects, the more varied and colorful the jump ropes. This project would also be a great holiday gift - sustainable and beautiful. Now head outside and enjoy your jump rope all year long!

Jump roping is great for your heart! Check out this great link from the American Heart Association to learn jump rope skills that promote healthy kids.

Interested in repurposed crafts? Learn more about how we repurpose cardboard, plastic, and glass.

The above photos were taken by Lisa Xu.

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