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Toys inspire and evoke strong memories.

BLOG: Folk Toys and How to Make a Spool Car

May 20, 2020

Children have displayed remarkable capacity to create their own entertainment. For many children in early Texas, chores would have limited the amount of playtime children had, but even those responsible for watching younger siblings, cleaning the house, or helping in the barn would have found ways to incorporate play into their lives.

Children often crafted folk toys from available materials to entertain themselves, friends and loved ones.  These inexpensive, use-what-you-have toys are not mass-produced nor are they always perfect. Children might build their folk toys from scratch or repurposed materials: broomsticks, wooden spools, balls made from clay, or dolls sewn from scraps.

Movement fascinates us, and we find movement in many toys. Sometimes, a child must physically move a toy horse across the floor to make it “gallop.” Sometimes, a toy with a set of wheels needs a push to roll across the floor. Sometimes, clever use of rubber bands or spiraled wire could send a toy spinning.

Toys inspire and evoke strong memories. They are our childhood companions. They bring us comfort and delight. We invite you to share your favorite toy memories.

What was your favorite toy? What toy did you always want, but never had?

The spool car project below celebrates movement without batteries or electricity. With simple engineering, a tightly wound rubber band can propel the toy car across the room.

How To Make A Spool Car 

Materials Needed:

1 Spool
1 Rubber Band
1 Metal Washer
1 Smaller Wooden Dowel
1 Larger Wooden Dowel

Step 1: Children may decorate their spools with markers if they choose


Step 2: Insert rubber band through the center column of the spool. Hint: You may use one of your wooden dowels to help pull the rubber band through.


Step 3: Insert the smaller wooden dowel through one end of the rubber band.  This will help hold the rubber band in place and prevent it from slipping out of the spool.


Step 4: On the opposite side of the spool, place the metal washer over the center of the spool and rubber band.


Step 5:  Insert the last wooden dowel through the rubber band loop on the same side as the metal washer.

To play: Wind the rubber band by spinning the larger dowel, then set on a hard, flat surface and watch your car go!