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Two of diamonds - Ngā taimana e rua

Learning experience 4, Activity 3

Intended outcome(s)

The students could:

  • explore line, shape, and form using manipulation techniques with string (Visual Arts 1 PK)
  • express ideas about their own and others' string figures (Visual Arts 1 CI)
  • apply understanding of line, shape, and form to make string figures (Visual Arts 3 PK)
  • describe the ideas conveyed by particular string figures (Visual Arts 3 CI)
  • talk about the situations in which string games were played in various societies and times and the purpose they served (Visual Arts 3 UC)

Suggested approach

Use a 2-metre length of cord knotted into a single loop. (Some games need shorter cords and some need longer ones.) Harakeke (flax) string is customary, although commercially available cords (nylon, braid, wool) can be used.

Demonstrate to the students how to make the pattern described below and have them try it:

  • Hold the string out from the body at stomach height, hooked over the thumb and little finger on both hands. Hold the hands up and number the fingers from the thumb away from the body, i.e., one (closest to the thumb), two, three, and four (the little finger).
  • With finger one on the right hand, go across to the left hand and tuck it under the left-hand string between the thumb and finger four and drag the string back to a taut position again.
  • Take finger one on the left hand across to the right hand and do as for the right hand above.
  • Drop the strings from around the thumbs and pull the string taut.
  • Take the thumbs and pass them over the first three strings to drag back string four (the one furthest away) so that that string crosses over the other three.
  • With the left thumb and left finger one, reach across and take the string that is, hooked around finger one of the right hand (string two) and carefully stretch it to hook over the right thumb as well. This step is called making triangles.
  • Now do the same with the opposite hand. Now your string pattern thumbs are locked to make triangles.
  • Use the teeth to pull string one over the thumbs. Strings one and two are now occupying the same space.
  • To get the triangles, turn the palms up so that both finger fours almost touch. You can see a triangle near the base of each thumb.
  • Bend down fingers one of both hands and move them through the triangles to hold gently onto the base of the thumbs.
  • Use the teeth to pull the loops of string off both fingers four. Point both thumbs down and stretch both fingers one away from the thumb and two diamonds will take shape.

The students describe the ways they have made shapes and forms. They discuss the use of string games from early times until the present and the many different cultures in which they are used. Consider why this practice has arisen and what purposes it could serve.

Two of diamonds.