Get Wound Up in Cat's Cradle!

Introduction: Get Wound Up in Cat's Cradle!

Cat's cradle is an engaging game played with string.  Variations of the game have been played for hundreds of years in many cultures.  It's easy to learn and fun to see how long you and your partner can keep from dropping the string formations.  The players learn how to change the string from one conformation to the next.  People of all ages can play.  It's simple, but stimulating and you can't beat the price: just the cost of a piece of string, which you can probably find laying around the house!

This Instructable is going to teach you how to play this entertaining game.  Enjoy learning how to play Cat's Cradle!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather the Necessities

First, you're going to need to gather your materials.  You'll need:

*About 1.5-2 yards of string (I went to a fabric shop and found 1/8 inch cord like what you'd find in a
      sweatshirt.  It worked quite well.)

*A friend

Once you have these, you can tie the ends of the string together in a knot so you have a big loop.

Now you're ready to go!

Step 2: The Set-up

Take your loop of string.  Put your hands inside the loop, but leave your thumbs out. 

Then, wrap the string around both hands as you see in the second and third pictures.  You can either use your other hand to manually wrap it around or, using one hand, twist it toward you, under the string, and back up.  This does the same job.

Now, both hands should have the string wrapped once around, as in the third picture.

Step 3: Making the Cradle

Now, take the middle finger of one hand and bring it under the loop of string on the other and pull the string tight.

Then, do the same with the other hand.  However, be sure to grab the string from between the strings wrapped around your middle finger.  Then pull tight.

The final cradle should have 2 "x" shapes with a straight string underneath as seen in the fourth picture.

Can't you just imagine a baby lying in the cradle?

Step 4: Who Doesn't Like Diamonds?

Now it's your friend's turn.

Your friend pinches the "x" shapes horizontally.  Holding on to those, she takes her fingers under the straight parts on each side and up through the middle.  Then you let go, she opens her fingers, and pulls the string tight, revealing the diamond!

If you're having trouble determining which strings to choose in any of the steps, check out the extra pictures.  I've labeled the proper strings and where your fingers go.

Step 5: Blow Out Those Candles!

Now you get to take the string back.

Pinch the set of "x"s along the long side of the string as seen in the second picture.  (Are you starting to notice a trend?  When in doubt, use the "x"s.)  Similar to what your friend did in the last step, hold on to the string, pull it out, under the strings on the sides, and through the middle.  Your friend releases the string and you open your fingers and pull the string tight.

This should give you the string conformation in the first picture.  Can you see the candles?

Step 6: Away in a Manger

Uh, oh!  There aren't any "x"s!

Not a problem.  See those lines in the middle?  Have your friend grab the right one with her left little finger.  She should then lift her left little finger, reach under, and grab the left line with her right little finger.  She can pull both of these outward, past the lines on the edges.  See the triangle it makes?  Have her take her thumb and pointer finger through the triangle, under the lines on the edges, and up through the middle.  The lines that were on the edge should now be held back by her thumbs and pointer fingers.  You can let go and she can pull the string tight.

Since this is one of the more confusing transitions, it may be helpful to look at the extra pictures.  The strings and where they go are labeled.

Now you have the cradle we started with, but it's upside down.  We call it a manger.

Step 7: A Shower of Diamonds

So, good news: the "x"s are back. 

This is going to be similar to step 4.  You're going to grab the "x"s horizontally, pull them outward (as in the third picture), and then go up and over the lines on the side.  Now point your fingers downward and go through the middle.  Your friend can drop the string as you widen your fingers to pull the string tight.  The result should be the diamond formation we saw earlier.

Step 8: It's Watching You

 So you're thinking to yourself, "I've seen this diamond before.  I know what's coming up next, right?"  Well, almost.  This time, things are slightly different.

Your friend goes through the same actions as before: pinches the outer set of "x"s and pulls them outward, under the lines on the edges, and through the middle.  She opens her fingers to pull the string tight while you let go and, whoa!  This doesn't look the same!  That's because it's the cat's eye.  Cool, right?

Step 9: The Finish Line... or So

This step is kind of deceiving.  You see the "x"s and you try to grab those.  However, they're not what you want.

See the little bits of string sticking out on the edges in the second picture?  Grab each side with the corresponding little finger.  Pull them outward until there's a triangle.  Stick your thumb and forefinger through here, under the string, and up through the middle.  Your friend can release the string as you pull it outward and tight.

What do we have here, folks?  Another manger!

Step 10: A Final Run-Through

Here's a run-through so you can see how all of the steps look when put together.

Now you've learned all of the different conformations for Cat's Cradle.  Keep playing until you or your friend drop the cat's cradle and lose the formation.

See how long you and your partner can keep it going!  You can also experiment with which direction you pull the "x"s (e.g. up through the middle or from the outside, over the lines on the edge, and through the middle). This will give you a different order of string formations. 

Now you can play Cat's Cradle for as long as your heart desires. 

Special thanks to my friends who graciously allowed me to use their hands for the pictures.

Enjoy playing Cat's Cradle!

Be the First to Share


    • Declutter Speed Challenge

      Declutter Speed Challenge
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest
    • Scraps Speed Challenge

      Scraps Speed Challenge

    5 Discussions


    10 months ago on Step 8

    People don’t explain this position but you guys did


    2 years ago

    This is all so confusing, but I made it at last! Thank you so much for this!


    7 years ago on Step 10

    Can't see the private video but I really really want to :-) awesome Instructable!!