Okay, a balloon spinner is not actually a folk toy, but it's in the general, spinning toy type, folk toy tradition. Besides which, when I first saw it in Arvind Gupta's Toys from Trash pages (where there are too many good ideas to even begin to mention - but thanks to Kate at Mini-eco, for introducing us to them, and to Crafty Crow, for introducing us to Kate's fine site), it reminded me of a spool tractor, which we have made before, and which is a folk toy.
It doesn't turn out to be like a spool tractor at all, but spins around in a wild, crazy, kid pleasing fashion, instead. And, it is so simple to make.
It's so simple, in fact, I was sure it wouldn't work, and decided to put one together, before the children got up this morning, just in case. To make your own, all you need is a balloon, a bendy straw, some string - or if you're like us, ribbon, and a pair of scissors.
Cut, the long end of the straw, so the straight bits are the same length on both sides of the bendy part, and bend it into a right angle.
Tie the balloon, tightly, onto one of the straight parts of the straw (this is not at all as tricky as it sounds).
Blow the balloon up, by blowing through the other end of the straw. If air leaks from around the string, just pinch the neck of the balloon, as you are blowing, and when the balloon is inflated, it will bulge against the string, and probably not leak too much air. Keep the balloon plugged, by placing your finger over the end of the straw.
Set the spinner on the floor, and let it go. Depending on the angle of the bend in the straw, the balloon will either spin very, very fast, or quite slowly.
I'm thinking this would make a great waiting-for-the-parents-to-arrive activity at the end of a birthday party, or maybe even at VBS, or for one of those Mom-I'm-boooored moments, this summer.
It's great to be a homeschooler.