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Cats In The Cradle Game

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A Related Expression: Cats Cradle

Solo Cats Cradle – How to play with only one person! Step by Step

You may have also heard the saying cats cradle. Although it sounds very similar to cats in the cradle, it has a different meaning and a different origin. This idiom is used to describe something that is extremely complex, difficult, or jumbledor even messy. Thats because this phrase is derived from a classic childrens game called, you guessed it, Cats Cradle, in which two or more children pass a loop of string back and forth between their hands to create various figures. The weaving patterns are intricate and complex thus, the phrases meaning. Interestingly, Cats Cradle is one of the oldest games ever recorded in our history.

For instance, you may hear the phrase used like this:

Her bedroom looked like a cats cradle.

The problem was a bit of a cats cradle: complicated with several different possible solutions.

Film Television And Theatrical Adaptations

  • Portions of Cat’s Cradle were adapted in the television movie Between Time and Timbuktu , which presented elements from various works by Vonnegut.
  • In 2005, the book was optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio‘s production company, Appian Way Productions. James V. Hart, screenwriter for the film Contact and his son Jake Hart were linked to the developing script.
  • A calypso musical adaptation was presented by the Untitled Theater Company #61 in New York in 2008.
  • Vonnegut collaborated with American composer Dave Soldier for a CD titled Ice-9 Ballads, featuring nine songs with lyrics taken from Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut narrated his lyrics to Soldier’s music.
  • A straight theatrical adaptation of the book was presented in Washington, DC in August and September 2010 by Longacre Lea Productions.
  • On November 18, 2015, it was announced that Fargo TV series-creator Noah Hawley was adapting Cat’s Cradle as a limited series for the American TV channel FX. On August 13, 2021, it was announced that the project would not be moving forward.

How Do You Use Cats In The Cradle In A Sentence

If you hear someone today use the expression cats in the cradle, theyre likely describing a relationship in which one person doesnt make enough time for the other, whether thats a romantic relationship, friendship, or parental relationship. In fact, this turn of phrase is actually taken from song lyrics that describe a father whose busy schedule keeps him from spending quality time with his son. For this reason, you may hear it used as a response to someone who has declined or canceled plans, likely for the millionth time. For example:

Hey, Sarah, lets have dinner together this weekend what do you say?Id love to, Jenny, but Im just too busy with work. How about next weekend then?I already have plans. I guess the cats in the cradle. You can never make time for me these days.

As is often the case, though, one turn of phrase can be used to mean many different things. Its also possible that someone may use the expression cats in the cradle to describe a dangerous situation, although this usage is much less common.

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What Does Cats In The Cradle Mean

The phrase cats in the cradle is a classic idiom: Taken together, its words mean something entirely different than they would on their ownliterally, a cat inside a babys cradle. Whats more, you arent likely to be able to figure out that meaning through deduction you simply must know the expression outright. If youre unfamiliar with it, this article will share the definition of cats in the cradle so that you can use this popular idiomatic expression correctly when writing and speaking.

Forming The Cat’s Cradle

Cats in the cradle string game instructions
  • 1Choose a player to start the game. This person should be the only one holding the string. It doesnt matter which one of you makes the first movethe game will play out the same way in either situation.XResearch source
  • If you mess up, begin a new game with the other player starting things off.
  • 2Loop the string around the back of both hands. Let it rest just behind your knuckles. Keep your thumbs on the outside of the strands. This will allow you to move freely and will also keep the string from slipping off your hands.XResearch source
  • Keep your fingers clear of the string. That way it wont accidentally get tangled up.
  • Some people prefer to lace the string around their middle and ring fingers rather than their whole wrist. This is mostly a matter of preference.
  • 3Wrap the string around your wrists one more time. Rotate your hands so that the loop is doubled up around your palms. You should now have one strand running in front of each palm in addition to the ones wrapped around the backs of your hands. This will put you in the correct position to start weaving the first shape.XResearch source
  • You should turn your wrists in such a way that only one strand gets wrapped around twice. Otherwise, both strands will twist together and ruin the setup.
  • If youre having trouble looping the string around your wrists a second time, have your partner help you.XResearch source
  • Once youve formed Cats Cradle, the game can officially begin.XResearch source
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    How To Use The Phrase Cats In The Cradle

    Today, the phrase Cats in the cradle is used to describe situations in which a relationship has been fractured. It is frequently used when there has been neglect of one person by another.

    However, it can also be used to describe any situation in which two people struggle to get along with each other.

    The phrase Cats in the cradle is usually used to describe a broken parent-child relationship, but it can also be used to describe other kinds of fractured family relationships, or even unhappy romantic relationships.

    John: Can we please talk?

    Alex: Why? To speak with you is basically to dance with the devil. Even though I want to spend time with you, I always end up getting hurt.

    John: Im sorry if you feel that way. I just feel like the cats in the cradle with us and I want to resolve things.

    brace yourself

    Hermia: You keep cancelling our dates!

    Lysander: Do I? Look, it is how it is. I dont mean to, Im just super busy. Hermia: I just feel like the cats in the cradle with us recently.

    Making Various Other Shapes

  • 1Turn Cats Cradle into “Soldiers Bed.” The other player should now pinch the two center Xs of Cats Cradle with the thumb and forefinger of both hands. Theyll then pull the Xs around the outside of the bottom strands and up through the center. As they do, gently slide your hands out of the string. When the other player opens up their thumb and forefinger, the resulting shape is known as “Soldiers Bed.”
  • Soldiers Bed looks very similar to Cats Cradle, but the finger positioning is different. This makes it possible to transfer the string to the other player when forming subsequent shapes.
  • An inverted version of Soldiers Bed is known as “Diamonds,” and can be made by wrapping the strands over the top of the two middle ‘X’s rather than underneath.
  • 2Transition to “Candles.” Inside the Soldiers Bed formation, you should see two more Xs in a pattern similar to Cats Cradle. Pinch these Xs where they intersect lengthwise, with your fingers facing the other players hands. Once again, bring these Xs around the outside of the shape and up through the middle. As your partner removes their hands, pull the string taut and spread your thumb and forefinger to form “Candles,” the next configuration.XResearch source
  • Candles is recognizable by the internal pattern of parallel lines.
  • This is a very useful transitional shape, as it gives you the freedom to go forward or backward in the sequence.
  • The Manger is essentially an upside-down version of Cats Cradle.XResearch source
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    Cats In The Cradle Meaning Context & Examples

    The phrase Cats in the cradle is most popularly used in reference to Harry Chapins 1974 song of the same name.

    The song is about a father and sons broken relationship, and is popularly interpreted as a warning against not investing enough time in ones family.

    The songs chorus references a series of childrens stories. The implication that the boys father could never find the time to read them to him.

    The song is about a fathers neglect for his son and is now often seen as a reference to broken commitments and the dangers of parental absence.

    Introduction: Get Wound Up In Cat’s Cradle

    How to do Cat’s Cradle EASY! Step by step, with string

    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!

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    The Origins Of The Phrase Cats In The Cradle

    It is all well and good to know what the idiomatic phrase Cats in the cradle means and to know how to use it in a sentence.

    However, it may still seem like a somewhat nonsensical expression to most of us.

    To understand why it is that someone might say, the cats in the cradle with my mom and my sister to mean that their mother and sister do not speak to each other, we need to dig a little deeper.

    First and foremost, we have to examine why Harry Chapin used this expression the way he did.

    The chorus of Chapins 1974 song reels of a series of childrens songs. The lyric is, The cats in the cradle and the silver spoon/ little boy blue and the man in the moon.

    The Man in the Moon and Little Boy Blue are both nursery rhymes. Many people believe the Cats in the cradle refers to the Dutch fairytale The Cat and the Cradle.

    The implication here would be that these are stories the father in the song was too busy to read to his son.

    However, Cats in the cradle might also be referring to the popular string game played by children, known as cats cradle.

    The game cats cradle involves creating a cradleof sorts out of string using ones fingers, and then passing it to another person.

    It involves give-and-take between two people and mutual trust. If there is no trust, the cradle will collapse.

    But there is even more than this to the phrase Cats in the cradle.

    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. 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?

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    How To Play The Cat’s Cradle Game

    This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 1,109,078 times.Learn more…

    Cats Cradle is a simple sequence game played with a looped length of string. Two or more partners use the string to form various shapes, each building on the last. The goal of the game is to get to the last shape without making a mistake. Learning to play Cats Cradle couldnt be easierall you need is a piece of string, a steady hand and a friend to help you work through the different configurations.

    Shape : Tractor Or Candles


    The Candle pattern has many names, such as tractor, chopsticks or mirrors. This is the next shape to transition to from the Soldiers Bed. It is recognisable by the internal pattern of parallel lines.

    Inside the Soldiers Bed formation, use your forefinger and thumb to grab the Xs that are perpendicular. Bring these Xs around the outside of the shape and up through the centre.

    As your partner removes their hands, pull the string taut and spread your thumb and forefinger to form the Candle pattern.

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    Forming The Cats Cradle

    To begin the game, select a player. This person should be the sole holder of the string. It makes no difference which of you makes the first move the game will proceed in either case. By the end of one complete cycle, your roles will be reversed. The player who began with Cats Cradle will now be the one aiding with the next shape.If you make a mistake, start a fresh game with the other player.

    Wrap the string over both hands backs. Allow it to lie behind your knuckles. Keep your thumbs on the threads outside edges. This allows you to move freely while simultaneously keeping the string from slipping out of your hands.Maintain a safe distance between your fingers and the string. That way, it wont get knotted up by accident.Some people like to wrap the string over their middle and ring fingers instead of their entire wrist. This is primarily a personal preference.

    Wrap the string around your wrists again. Turn your hands around so that the loop is doubled around your palms. In addition to the strands wrapped around the backs of your hands, you should now have one strand running in front of each palm. This will put you in the right place to begin weaving the initial form.You should rotate your wrists such that only one thread is wrapped around twice. Otherwise, both threads will tangle and damage the setup.Allow your spouse to assist you if you are having difficulty looping the thread around your wrists a second time.


    How To Play Cats Cradle

    Due to the sequential nature of the game, Cats Cradle is best played with a partner to help form new shapes and to take the string from you at the next turn. If there are more than two players, players can pass the string around in a circle or choose a specific order to transfer the string from person to person. The game will go more smoothly if youre playing with someone whose hands are roughly the same size as your own.

    There are many different variations that you can form with the Cats Cradle, in this tutorial, there are the three basic shapes that you can try to form. The game ends when one player either makes a mistake or ends up with a shape that does not allow any other shape to be made.

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    How To Play The Cats Cradle Game

    Cats Cradle is a simple sequence game played with a length of string that has been looped. Two or more partners use the string to create numerous forms, each one building on the previous one. The objective of the game is to reach the last shape without making any mistakes. Cats Cradle is a simple game to learnall you need is a piece of string, a steady hand, and a friend to assist you to work through the many permutations.


    Cat’s Cradle Facts For Kids

    String games: how to do a cat’s cradle string figure

    Cat’s cradle is a series of string figures created between two people as a game. The name of the entire game, the specific figures, their order, and the names of the figures vary. Versions of this game have been found in indigenous cultures throughout the worldfrom the polar regions to the Equatorial zones.

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    How To Play Cats Cradle: Visual And Video Tutorials

    Ever heard of the Cats Cradle? The Cats Cradle string game is a game that might be familiar to many as a part of their childhood. The game is said to have originated in China and is known as fan sheng, which directly translates to turn string. It is a fun game that is great for rainy days.

    This game is often played between two or more players. The objective of this game is to create various string figures between the fingers passing a loop of string back and forth between the players. The type of string, the specific figures, their order, and the names of the figures vary from player to player. Here is one way of playing Cats Cradle.

    Things You Should Know

    • Get a piece of string that’s 40 inches long, tie the ends together to make a loop, and loop the string around the back of both hands.
    • Wrap the string around your wrists again and catch the inner strand with your middle fingers to form a double X. This is the Cat’s Cradle formation.
    • From Cat’s Cradle, work on transitioning to other formations with your partner, like Soldier’s Bed, Candles, and The Manger.

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    Cats Cradle Quotes In Cats Cradle

    Cats CradleChapter 5Quotes

    But he went down on his knees on the carpet next to me, and he showed me his teeth, and he waved that tangle of string in my face. See? See? See? he asked. Cats cradle. See the cats cradle? See where the nice pussycat sleeps? Meow. Meow.

    His pores looked as big as craters on the moon. His ears and nostrils were stuffed with hair. Cigar smoke made him smell like the mouth of Hell. So close up, my father was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. I dream about it all the time.

    And then he sang. Rockabye catsy, in the tree top he sang, when the wind blows, the cray-dull will rock. It the bough breaks, the cray-dull will fall. Down will come cray-dull, catsy, and all.

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