A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 11, 2015
“Motorboat, motorboat go so slow…” (children’s rhyme)

A popular children’s jump rope rhyme is:

Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so slow.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so fast.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Step on the gas.


The jump rope acts as the motor boat, first going slow, then fast. The rhyme dates to at least the 1950s and 1960s.

“Motorboat, Motorboat” also has been chanted for other children’s instruction, including swimming lessons.


Google Books
A Guide for Program Planning in Homemaking Education
By the Division of Homemaking Education, State of Arizona
Phoenix, AZ: State Dept. of Vocational Education
1957
Pg. 53:
“Motor Boat” Children walk around in circle saying, “Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow” (go slow) “Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast” (go fast) “Motorboat, motorboat step on the gas” (run).

Google Books
Jump-Rope Rhymes:
A Dictionary

By Roger D Abrahams
Austin, TX: Publ. for the American Folklore Society by the University of Texas Press
1969
Pg. 130:
Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so slow.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so fast.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Step on the gas.

Google Books
North Carolina Folklore Journal
Volumes 20-21
1972
Pg. 17:
Motor boat, motor boat. Go so slow. Motor boat, motor boat, Go so fast. Motor boat, motor boat, Step on the gas. (turn hot)

Google Books
The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin
Volumes 41-42
1974
Pg. 35:
The following rhyme depicts the influence of recreational activities of the past decade or so:

Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so slow.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Go so fast.
Motor boat, motor boat,
Step on the gas. {Turn rope fast.)

23 January 1984, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Tots keep fathers moving” by Joy Winstead, pg. B-6, col. 6:
Another popular exercise with the children involved running in place to the chant of “Motorboat, motorboat go so fast; motorboat, motorboat, step on the gas.”

Google Books
Playtime
By Time-Life Books.
Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books
1987
Pg. 94:
... they sing, “Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow.” Then they go faster, singing, “Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast.” And then they go even faster, singing, “Motorboat, motorboat, step on the gas,” and then they go as fast as they possibly can.

Google Books
Baby Talk:
The Art of Communicating with Infants and Toddlers

By Monica Devine
New York, NY: Plenum Press
1991
Pg. 174:
Sing the jingle, “Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast. Motorboat, motorboat, step on the gas!” Later, move the boat slowly. Exaggerate slow body movements and slow down your rate of speech.

Google Books
You Are Your Child’s First Teacher:
What Parents Can Do with and for Their Children from Birth to Age Six

By Rahima Baldwin Dancy
New York, NY: Celestial Arts
2000
Pg. 241:
Modern ones like “Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow… Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast… Motorboat, motorboat, step on the gas!” are fun for their quality of changing speed and movement, but they lack the musical element.

YouTube
Motorboat go so slow...fast...CRASH! - English Language Games
English Language Games
Published on Jan 25, 2013
Find this game and many more in my book “ESL Games for Kids - Proven Ideas for Teaching English Through Listening Exercises, Fun Activities and Games” http://amzn.to/1b2HblS
DAY 12 - All hold hands in a circle and walk around slowly as you sing the first part, then stop and pretend to “step on the gas”, get them excited about going fast with “vroom, vroom” sounds then run around in the circle twice before crashing down to the ground!

YouTube
Motorboat motorboat - 4th.swim.lesson
Mai Nguyen
Published on Jun 25, 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Saturday, July 11, 2015 • Permalink