Tapestry of Faith: Love Connects Us: A Program on Living in Unitarian Universalist Covenant for Grades 4-5

Activity 3: Cat's Cradle

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Tie together the ends of each string or yarn piece to create a loop. Make a loop for every two participants.
  • If you are unfamiliar with Cat's Cradle, use the illustrated instructions in Leader Resource 1. If more visuals may help you, author Libby Koponen's website has additional pictures to illustrate each step.

Description of Activity

Pair participants (if needed, make a group of three). Give each pair a loop of string. Invite the pairs to work together with their partner to create a cat's cradle, an old and timeless string game which has entertained children for years.

Start by asking if anyone has already done this activity and knows how it's done. If any participants volunteer, encourage them to show the other pairs how to do it. If no one has done it before, demonstrate (using Leader Resource 1, if necessary) how to create the Cat's Cradle shape out of the yarn or string, transfer it to their partner's hands without destroying the shape of the Cat's Cradle, and then transfer it back to the first person.

Besides Cat's Cradle, there are many more shapes which can be done by people playing string games together. If some participants know them and wish to demonstrate, encourage them to do so if you have time available.

After all partners have successfully transferred the pattern of Cat's Cradle at least once (or participants have had some time to create different shapes together), invite them to reflect on the experience. Ask questions such as:

  • What was it like transferring the pattern to the other person's hands?
  • How did you have to rely on the other person to do their part correctly?
  • How did your actions affect what your partner could do with the string?
  • What happened if you made a mistake? Did you take it lightly, or seriously? Did you feel any sense of blame toward your partner? Did you feel the responsibility for the mistake was shared? Or, all your own fault?
  • How and when does this working together symbolize what we do in our congregation?

Including All Participants

If any participant is unable to manipulate their fingers to exchange the string with another person, suggest they can serve as the "base" for their partner to build the Cat's Cradle shape. They can hold their arms still and their fingers spread apart while a partner loops the string onto their hands, and then off again to make a new shape.