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How to Make Button and String Whirligigs

By Pamela Martin ; Updated April 18, 2017
Turn a plain button into an entertaining toy in seconds.

Children today have access to elaborate toys and complex computer games, but parents often are surprised that a simple, old-fashioned plaything captures their child’s attention. A button-and-string whirligig is an inexpensive toy that takes seconds to make, but entertains for hours, making “music” as an added enticement.

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Cut a 24-inch length of string.

Thread the string through the holes in the button. Do not use a button with a shank. You need a flat one with at least two holes.

Tie the string ends together in a knot.

Spin the button to twist the strings, with the button in the center. Insert your fingers in the loops. Pull the strings to let them begin to untwist. Release the pressure and then pull the string taut again to keep the whirligig spinning.

Things You Will Need

  • Large flat button (no shank)
  • Twine or yarn


Substitute a circle of painted, stamped or otherwise embellished cardstock for the button or add a small wooden disk that you have painted.


Do not twist the string too tightly around your fingers, as this can cut off circulation in the tips of your fingers.

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About the Author

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.

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