Aboriginal Perspectives


String Games


Inuit, Navajo


String figures and games have been found and collected from all over the world. Nobody really knows how they started or who started developing these complex patterns with string. The Inuit created some of the most complicated and beautiful string figures. This activity was seen as a hobby and as a form of art, however it also was used to help develop stories that were told by the fire.

Original Materials:

Sinew or a leather thong

Adapted Materials:

Nylon cord or any string (approx. 2 meters in length) that is melted or tied together.

To Create:

Check out Diné String Games for instructions on how to create some Navajo string figures.

Math Content:

Patterns and relations, geometry, problem solving


More figures and information can be found in the following books and websites:

Gryski C. (1983). Cat's Cradle, Owl's Eyes: A Book of String Games. Toronto, On: Kids Can Press. ISBN 0-688-03940-5

Gryski C. (1985). Many Stars and More String Games. Toronto, On: Kids Can Press. ISBN 0-919964-66-4

World-Wide Web

Here is a list of links from the International String Figure Association

Watch a video of Grandma Margaret making two constellations using string as she tells the Navajo story of how coyote placed the stars in the sky.

  string games