Y is for Yo-yo

Here at Pi’ikea Street we love the Yo-yo, after all we do have a slide dedicated to this iconic toy in our app Interactive Alphabet.  Since it is National Yo-yo Day we’re going to show you how to make a mini version of the classic yo-yo and a Chinese paper yo-yo.  Let’s start!

Yo-yo Main

Mini Yo-yo

The mini yo-yo is the perfect size for little hands.  To make them, I used toy wheels as the discs and a piece of dowel for the axle.  You can easily find toy wheels in the woodwork area of most craft stores.  I used these wooden wheels for this project.  While you’re in the woodwork area grab a ¼” dowel too.  To make an axle out of the dowel, use a coping saw to cut a 1¼” piece.  Then secure the piece in a workbench and saw a narrow 3/8” groove in each end.

Yo-yo Dowel Axle

Take two wheels and place one at each end of the axle.  If the wheels don’t fit quite well, a few hits from a rubber mallet should do it.  Tie some string to the axle and you’re done.  You don’t necessarily need yo-yo string.  I used embroidery thread with one yo-yo and it worked just fine.

Yo-yo Mini Complete

Chinese Paper Yo-yo

I remember getting these paper yo-yos as birthday party favors when I was a kid.  At first glance they don’t look like much.  But when you figure out how they work, they can really be a ton of fun.  All you need to make these are:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Dowel, at least 8” long (or reuse a cleaned and dried drinking straw)
  • Double sided tape
  • Scissors

Cut your wrapping paper into a 4” wide strip.  Ideally you want it to be at least 5 feet long.  The strip I made was 4” x 6’ (the entire length of one roll of wrapping paper).

Yo-yo Paper Measure
I made a stencil out of (yellow) card stock to ensure the paper is measured and cut evenly.

Place 4” of tape on one end of the dowel.  Then stick on one end of the paper.

Yo-yo Paper Tape

Wind the paper up and try to keep it even.  To play with your paper yo-yo, flick your wrist forward and then bring your wrist back.  You’ll see the paper will flow in and out as you do this.

Yo-yo Paper Play 01

Yo-yo Paper Play 02

As a game, you can set some items up on a table and try to knock them down with your yo-yo.  When you’re through playing with it, wind the paper back up and wrap a rubber band around it to keep it from unraveling.

Yo-yo Rubberbands

These yo-yos are inexpensive to make and both kinds make great additions to goody bags for any celebration.

Happy Yo-yo Day!