Remembering an Elastic Multitasker

I can’t think of another toy that has such a specific use for both indoors and out, but is just as fun wherever you choose to play it. I’m talking about none other than a Chinese Jump Rope!

For several years of my young life, I wouldn’t go anywhere without my purple and green Chinese Jump Rope. It’s lightweight, there are no parts to lose, and it’s basically unbreakable. All you needed was two friends, or even conveniently placed tetherball poles to play alone! How long could you go without jumping on or otherwise touching the rope?

Now it took me looking at the Klutz Chinese Jump Rope book to remember the different games you could play. The book even shows how to make your own Chinese Jump Rope from rubber bands.

One of the best things about the Chinese Jump Rope was its practical use on rainy days and such. Of course, it’s a perfect physical activity that can be played inside (provided you have enough room to jump!) Naturally though, my standard, frequent use for the rope was for the handheld fun of Cat’s Cradle!

(Now, after an informal office poll, we reached the conclusion that Cat’s Cradle does not require the elasticity of the Chinese Jump Rope. Klutz confirms this, with a separate book dedicated to the stringy creations, that comes complete with a tie-dyed string! But if you have a Chinese Jump Rope, how could you resist making an Eiffel Tower that can stretch a few feet tall!)

Like the folded paper fortune telling device, (a la Cahootie) Cat’s Cradle was another of those seemingly “girls-only” activities. But really, you could walk up to a lot of kids back then with the string in the starting “cradle” position (wrapped twice around the wrists and crossed, held by your middle fingers) and they’d know what to do next.

I’ll take the opportunity to admit, that as an only child till the age of nine, I had mastered solo play. I would carefully place each Cat’s Cradle configuration down, go over and under (or under and over and so on) and end up with the diamond shape (“cat’s eye”), parallel lines (“candles”), or sometimes, that crazy configuration that was a “dead end.”

So tie a piece of long string in a knot and see what you can do! Take a look back at some more of our special toy memories in our Take me Back Tuesday features. Awesome cat’s cradle photo is from

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