How to make a spinning button toy (Button Whirligig)


A spinning button toy is an old fashion toy that has been delighting kids for generations. They are also known by different names; button whirligig, button spinner, thread spinner and buzzer.  This fun, easy-to-make toy can be made in just minutes with common household items.

When the kids are bored or on rainy or snowy days, grab a button and string and make this simple whirligig DIY toy.

Besides being a cool spinning toy, this DIY button spinner can be a learning moment.  It's a fun STEM (or STEAM) craft idea for kids of all ages.

Spinning Button Toy Tutorial - fb

For more fun and easy kid's craft projects, head over to our kid's craft page.

To learn how to make and operate a spinning button toy, watch this video and/or keep reading this post for a step-by-step photo tutorial.

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link How to make a spinning button toy (Button Whirligig) to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.


Spinning Button Toy - Supplies


  • String or Stong Thread
  • Large Button
  • Scissor


STEP 1: The String

With the scissor, cut a length of strong, flexible string  36 inches long.

STEP 2: Thread the Button

Button Spinner Toy - Thread Through Holes Thread the string through two of the buttonholes. If the button has four holes, place string through diagonal holes.

STEP 3: Tie Ends Together

Whirligig Toy - Tie Knot in End Tie the two loose ends of the string together into a knot.

STEP 4: Finger Loops

Thread Spinner Toy - Tie Knots Make finger loops at each end by tying another knot near the end of the string large enough for a finger.

Spinning Button Toy - Finished

READY, SET, Time to play!


Place the button in the middle of the string.

Place a finger from each hand into the finger loops.

Spinning Button Toy - Playing with toy

Then, spin the button in one direction around in a circular motion about 20 - 30 times until the string gets tightly twisted.

Spinning Button Toy - How to HoldAfter the string is twisted tightly, pull the string apart for a second, then release the pressure. The string will twist back on itself. Pull the string taut again to keep it spinning.

Continue this in and out motion.

It may take a while to get the hang of it.  Don't give up because it's great fun.


Instead of a button, whirligigs can be made using other materials.  The Craft Train has a free tutorial on how to make a cardboard spinner with a free set of printable templates. 


A button spinner is a lesson in energy and rotational physics - potential energy (energy waiting to happen) and kinetic energy (energy in motion).

When the string is just sitting there twisted, it contains only potential energy.  When the string is pulled and begins to spin, the potential energy begins to convert to kinetic energy.  

The kinetic energy converts back to potential energy as the button winds back on itself.

The ScienceToyMaker has an article on how the spinning button is perfect for explaining all 3 of Newton's Laws of Motion. 

Have you played with this toy?  

I hope you enjoyed this DIY blog on how to make a button spinner toy.  If you like this project be sure to pin, bookmark and share.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I’m happy to help or clarify anything.



If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.


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Spinning Button Toy Tutorial - pin

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