Play Cat's Cradle

Use your brain - and your fingers - to play this intricate, neat-looking string game.

By Sherri Lerner

The Cat's Cradle, also known as Jack in the Pulpit, or by the Russians as "The Game of String," is the basis for numerous games known as "string figures." To play any variation, you first need to make the "cradle."

According to the website of the Smithsonian Institution, where the following directions are from, versions of this game can be found in indigenous cultures all over the world..

You may need to help your grandchild with the placement of the string.

Here's how to begin:

1. Cut a piece of string or yarn to 36 inches in length, and tie the ends of the string together to form a loop.

2. Position palms to face each other, and stretch the loop of string so it's tight between both hands. Leave the thumb outside of the loop so the string rests in the groove between the thumb and index fingers.

3. Loop the string once around both hands, making sure to keep the thumbs outside of the loops. The string should now be wrapped around the palm of each hand once and the back of each hand twice.

4. Slide the middle finger of one hand through the single loop on the opposite palm, and then pull the hand back so the string is taut.

5. Repeat Step 4 with the ring finger on the opposite hand to complete the "cat's cradle" figure. To make it look more like a cradle, temporarily invert the hands so the fingers are pointing downward.

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