How to Play the Cat's Cradle String Game

Written by marisa swanson
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How to Play the Cat's Cradle String Game
A game for idle minds with a circle of string (string image by Edsweb from

Cat's cradle is a simple game that has been played by children for generations. By taking a single piece of string and wrapping it around the palms, two players are able to create different shapes and transfer them to one another as they do so. Popular on the playground and in the car during long rides, it's worth it to show this game to your children to keep them occupied and having fun--there is no winner or loser in this game.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Cat's cradle string

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  1. 1

    Put your hands inside of the string and separate them until the string is taught, keep your thumbs out of the string. A cat's cradle string is a circle.

  2. 2

    Loop the string around each hand, keeping thumbs out. There will be a horizontal line of string across each palm that is a loop. Put your middle finger inside the loop of the opposite hand and pull. Repeat with the other finger and hand. There will be two "x" shapes between your hands that are made by the string. This is the cradle.

  3. 3

    Second player: Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch one of the "x"s. Use thumb and forefinger of the other hand to pinch the other "x". Pull the "x"s away from each other, over the string beneath them, and up through the centre of the cradle.

  4. 4

    Stretch out your hands. Player one lets go of the string so it is on the second player's hands. Now it's player one's turn to get the cradle back.

  5. 5

    Player one: Pinch the "x"s, pull them apart, over the strings on the side, and up through the middle of the cradle. This is similar to what player two did in Step 3. Holding onto the string, pull your hands apart. Player two lets go.

  6. 6

    Player two: Hook your left pinky finger underneath the middle string, on the right side. Hook your right pinky finger underneath the middle string, on the left side. Pull your hands wide apart.

  7. 7

    Use your thumb and forefinger of each hand, spread apart, to reach underneath the strings on the right and left (keep the other strings hooked on your pinky while you do this). Push your hands up through the middle of the cradle. Player one should let go at this point. Spread your hands.

  8. 8

    Player one: Pinch the "x"s at the bottom of the cradle, pull them up and over the sides, so your fingers are facing downward. Player two lets go. Spread your fingers apart.

  9. 9

    Repeat steps 1 to 9 to continue playing the game.

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