Criss Cross Applesauce – Rhymes and Sitting Style

Photo of Girl Sitting Cross-legged

Adults used to tell kids to sit “Indian Style” when asking them to sit cross-legged on the ground. You don’t hear that phrase used so much anymore.  According to my 4th grader, now they tell you to sit “Criss-Cross Applesauce” in pre-school.  In grade school, they tell you to “Sit Pretzel Style”.

There’s a rhyme that teachers say to students when they want them to quiet down and sit cross-legged on the floor.

Criss-Cross Applesauce
Give your hands a clap
Criss-Cross Applesauce
Put them in your lap.

There’s another Criss-Cross Applesauce rhyme that people do on kids’ backs.  Here are the words to it:

Criss-cross applesauce
Spiders crawling up your back
Cool Breeze,
Tight squeeze
Now you’ve got the shiverees!

Here’s how you play this rhyme-game:

1. Make an “x” on the child’s back.
2. Walk your fingers up the kid’s back.
3. Blow on the child’s neck.
4. Hug the child.
5. Tickle the kid’s back!

This video shows how to play “Criss-Cross Applesauce”:

Note that sometimes people say “Squish squash applesauce” instead.

Feel free to share your version of “Criss-Cross Applesauce” in the comments below.

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2011 at 6:08 pm and is filed under American Nursery Rhymes, Criss-Cross Applesauce, English Nursery Rhymes, Games Around the World, Nursery Rhymes, Rhyme Games, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

13 Responses to “Criss Cross Applesauce – Rhymes and Sitting Style”

  1. Monique Says:

    In France we have no rhyme about it probably because to sit cross-legged is said “être assis en tailleur” (to be sitting tailor style) because tailors used to sit this way on their working table, so no convenient crss-crss or any other inspiring sound(s).

  2. Bycostello Says:

    Do you know the rest of the song?

  3. Darcie Says:

    we used to chant this “Criss Cross” before playing hopscotch to keep the players at the desired number. We would both cross our arms out in front of ourselves and hold each others hands. While bouncing our clasped hands up and down we would chant…

    “Criss Cross, Applesauce, no one else can play with us. If they do we’ll take our shoe and beat them ’til they’re black and blue… criss cross”.

    If someone came up after the game started we would tell them we had already ‘criss crossed’ and they knew not to take it personally.

  4. Lisa Says:

    I remember part of that chant as part of this one:

    Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. But if they do, then take your shoe and hit them till they’re black and blue.

  5. Rebekah Says:

    We did it as
    Cross cross applesauce
    Tight squeeze
    Brisk breeze
    Spiders crawling up your back
    Snakes sliding down your back
    Now you’ve got the chills!

  6. turin Says:

    Criss cross, applesauce
    Break an egg over your head
    Spiders crawling up your back
    Pinch here, pinch there
    Cool breeze, tight squeeze!
    Now you’ve got the chillies!

  7. Kim Says:

    We did a more gory version I don’t remember all of it but here’s what I do:
    Egg in your hair and the yolk runs down
    Knife in your back and the blood gushes out
    Criss cross applesauce now do you have the chills

  8. Blue Says:

    Ugh, why not just say Indian Style or cross legged? What’s with the applesauce bit? I am a Native American and, all this politically correct stuff sounds like special snowflake garbage. It’s sit Indian Style – leave it alone or, if you must just say sit cross legged.

  9. Lisa Says:

    It seems saying criss cross applesauce for sitting cross legged goes back to the seventies. That’s the earliest reference I’ve found to it in print. It can be found in the book called “Elementary Physical Education: A Developmental Approach” (1978) by Daniel D. Arnheim, Robert A. Pestolesi. In that book they recommended using the expression to be culturally sensitive, “Use inclusive language: Say, ‘boys and girls,’ ‘folks,’ ‘everyone,’ or ‘you all.’ Don’t use stereotypical phrases, such as ‘sit Indian style’ or ‘sit tailor style’; instead, say ‘sit with your legs crossed’ or ‘sit crisscross apple sauce.'”

    According to Wiktionary, “Generally used by nursery school and primary school teachers to children, sometimes followed by ‘spoons in the bowl’ to mean ‘hands in your lap’, strengthening analogy with a bowl of applesauce; alternatively, ‘spoons in your bowl’ or ‘spoons in your lap’.”

    It’s my impression that it’s also said for the sound of it (sometimes in a sing-song voice) and that people don’t think about the pc aspect of it so much any more. It’s just the expression that teachers use now.

    There are rhymes that use the phrase that go back a little earlier. One is called Criss Cross Applesauce and is played on the child’s back. It’s similar to the X Marks the Spot rhyme.

    There’s a reference to “Criss cross applesauce” in a book called “Street Games” (1976) by Alan Milberg. It says, “The final part of the ritual [to decide the rules of a game] is called ‘cementing in the rules.’ Once the leader specifies what should or should not be included in the game, he sings, ‘Crisscross applesauce…'” Is anyone familiar with using it in this way?

    As an aside, there’s also a book called “Criss-Cross. Applesauce” (1978) Tomé Do Paola. It’s about reading together as a family.

    Did anyone use the expression as part of any other rhymes or games?

  10. Katherine Says:

    We used criss cross applesauce as a jump rope song (1960s-70s) only I cannot recall there rest of the lyrics.

  11. Nanci Says:

    @darcie my sister and I used to sing the crisscross song that ended in “beat them till they were black and blue” when we were kids in the 60s and 70s. We are now old women in our 50s and 60s and we still say to each other “crisscross“ when we intend to do something together with no one else!

  12. Lisa Says:

    Nanci – that’s cool! Annnnd you are not old! :)

  13. Sara Scoggan Says:

    For me it was
    “Criss cross, Applesauce
    Spiders crawling up your spine
    Cool breeze, tight squeeze
    Now you’ve got the willies!”

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