Tonight one of my nine year olds was playing with a long strand of beads that we use for Christmas decoration. The way he was twisting the strand to make the beads spin reminded me of a very old toy. You take a button and a long piece of string or yarn. The button needs to be the kind with holes through it, not the kind that is flat on front and has a single hole on the back.
You put the string through a hole in the button and tie the string. Or you can put the string through the button and back again. Tie the ends of the string. Hold the string between your hands so that the button is in the middle. Use a wrist motion, or move your hands up and down to make the button move around the strings. Then gently pull the string taunt and watch the button spin. It really is fascinating to watch the button spin. It spins so fast it makes designs in the air. If you only string the button through one string the button will look like it jumps strings.
What has been funny about the whole button on the string toy tonight is how fascinated my high tech children have been by this ever so simple toy.
I did a little research on the toy for this post. Some people call the toy a buzzsaw, a moonwalker, or a skywalker. One site said that it was one of the few toys early American children were allowed to play with on Sundays. Another said that Native American children played with a similar toy, using a piece of bone instead of a button. I always figured that women who were trying to get their sewing done made these toys to keep their children busy. But no matter what their history, or their name, they are a fun and inexpensive toy for children who are old enough to not want to eat the button.