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Homemade Button String Toy
The button string toy has quite a history
As children in the 1950s, this was a favorite toy. It is interactive and although it doesn't seem to do much, the hypnotic whirring and the pulling to keep it moving kept us busy for a long time. I don't think that any of us knew or cared about it's history. It was just fun.
From Wikipedia - "A buzzer (buzz, bullroarer, button-on-a-string), is an ancient mechanical device used for ceremonial purposes and as a toy."
It is an object in the middle of a cord and can be made to buzz by winding the cord while keeping the end stationary. The object moves by pulling and releasing the tension on the cord. The most common way that it was made was with a large button and some string.
- Button - various sizes but big buttons work best. Children are very inventive. At school, they found a bottle cap and punched two holes in it. Makes an entirely different sound. Kids can also draw a circle on cardboard with a compass and make two holes in the middle. See the link below to find out how to make your own compass.
- String - Do you know how hard it is to find regular string? Kite string works really well but it is the off-season for kites. We started with twine but it is not strong enough to last.
- Ruler to measure 36". I could use a yardstick if I could find one.
- Scissors to cut the string.
Really big buttons
- Cut the string to 36".
- Thread the string on the button. If you are using a button with 4 holes, thread it through the opposing holes.
- Tie a secure knot in the end. Make sure it can't come undone and cause injury.
Thread the button
Get the right string
Honestly, when we were little there were not as many choices. Twine works for a little while and then it unravels and breaks. Kite string comes in different formulas from polyester to an almost clear fishing line. The best of all is the cotton string that seems to last longer. We keep trying different ones so when I find one that I am happy with, I will update this lens. Right now, the cotton is it!
I made it myself and now I am refusing to put it down
How to use this toy
You have made this exceptional toy for a favorite child. It is a string and a button. They look at you with a blank stare. What do you do with this?
It does not have batteries and does not have a thousand little pieces with directions. It is easy enough to show a child how it works and what it does. However, if you are sending it as a gift you might want to send it with a little card with instructions.
- Grasp one end of the loop with each hand.
- Make sure that the button is in the center.
- Swing the button forward in a circular motion to wind.
- Gently pull the string out and then relax the tension while it winds and then pull it out again. Once the button is spinning, keep up the in and out motion.
Let the kids explain. This is a very short demonstration of the button spinner.
It entertained us as children and we need to pass it on
Niles has decided that it is a great toy for taking places. The string fits around his neck like a necklace and it's an easy toy to transport. Last time I saw him, he was trying to keep it going while attempting to step over it and back again.
What we learned
We used a 2" button and a 1 1/2" button. The 1 1/2" button does not work with the twine, it is not heavy enough but works great on the string.
Instead of a button, you can use an 1/8" piece of plywood or the cardboard mentioned above. The amount of humming is dependent on the weight on the string and the disc.