Make your own Button Whirligig

A fun and stress relieving toy to make is a Whirligig made with a string and a button.  This easy to make toy is a favorite among colonial toys although its origins are much older. Spinning toys have been used by many cultures and also Native Americans as well as people and children in medieval Europe. A spinning toy can be created by using wind power like weather vanes or 4th of July pinwheels but also by using a tightened string. The button Whirligig uses the power of a string that when tightened and released pushes the button around and around. To keep the button spinning, the string needs to be tighten and loosened in a rhythm by the users hands. To keep up this motion, it needs some practice but is interesting and can provide some stress relief.

What you need:

  • a button that is  at least 1″ in diameter (the larger the easier to spin) – if you don’t have a button, you can make a round out of heavy cardboard, but it needs to be about 3″ in diameter
  • 3 feet of string (wool or cotton string)

How to make it:

Thread the string through the button like this:









How to play:

Hold the end loops with your index finger apart so that the button is in the middle. Spin the thread in one direction so that the button swings around and the string is twisting tighter and tighter. When the string tightens up, pull your index fingers quickly apart and keep up the pulling motion in a quick rhythm. The button should whirl back and forth as the strings loosens up and tightens up in quick motions. It might take 10 or 20 minutes to get the hang of it. Don’t give up because it’s great fun!