A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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What Exactly is a Whirligig? And Register to Win a Free Picture Book at a Friend’s Blog

Posted by lindamartinandersen on June 6, 2013

“What Exactly is a Whirligig?  And Register to Win a Free Picture Book at a Friend’s Blog” by Linda Martin Andersen

“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

Part 1–Earlier this week, I posted about Vollis Simpson and whirligigs he created.  See below:


This led to the question, “What exactly is a whirligig?”  I’ve been asked to clarify.  Whirligigs may be tiny, such as a pinwheel on a pencil eraser or huge like some of the whirligigs Vollis Simpson created.  (See picture below). These can weigh up to three tons (think elephants) and a tower up to 50 feet tall (think ferris wheel). 

Many words are used to describe whiligigs–synonyms such as whirlybird, spinners, pinwheels, and others.  See Wikipedia’s comments below.

Definition of whirligigs:

  • According to Wikipedia, “a ‘whirligig’ is an object that spins or whirls, or has at least one member that spins or whirls. Whirligigs are also known as pinwheels, buzzers, comic weathervanes, gee-haws, spinners, whirlygigs, whirlijig, whirlyjig, whirlybird, or plain whirly. Whirligigs are most commonly powered by the wind but can be hand or friction powered or even powered by a motor! They can be used as a kinetic garden ornament. They can be designed to transmit sound and vibration into the ground to repel burrowing rodents in yards, gardens, and backyards.”

  • According to Merriam Webster, a whirligig is “a toy that has a whirling motor or something that continuously whirls or changes.”

Looking for pinwheels?

Many stores stock patriotic pinwheels for US holidays at this time.  Garden centers probably carry a variety year round.

Have you ever owned a pinwheel?  Have you made one yourself?  Check out craft books or this site to find directions for making them:


Pinwheels or Whirligigs as Yard Decorations:

Have you ever seen pinwheels decorating a yard?  I decided to add one to my yard after writing this blog post.  The pinwheel I bought is rather short, so I may replace the stake with a longer one.  Maybe you’d like to add a pinwheel stake to your yard.

Pinwheel.  Linda Martin Andersen.  Copyright 2013

Pinwheel. Linda Martin Andersen. Copyright 2013

Part 2–Donna Earnhardt is giving away a copy of her picture book Being Frank.  Register to win by visiting her blog link below and following the rules there:


Thank you for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” Please come again soon.  Bring a friend. 

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

8 Responses to “What Exactly is a Whirligig? And Register to Win a Free Picture Book at a Friend’s Blog”

  1. Love the colors on your garden pinwheel! 🙂

  2. Thanks Tracy! Sometimes a little something brings a lot of cheer.

  3. VERY nice! I am always impressed by the cool things you post about! My kids love finding out interesting and “out of the ordinary” facts – so thank you for providing that for them!
    (thank you for sharing the book link, too!)

    • Donna,
      What a nice compliment. I’m glad your girls enjoy the information here. That’s my hope–that some kids get to see this. Yay! Thanks for making my day. You are also welcome for the sharing of the link to your post. My pleasure! I hope it brings traffic to your site. A copy of Being Frank is certainly a treat.

  4. Joan Y. Edwards said

    Dear Linda,
    I love the descriptions of whirligigs. I enjoyed the picture of the pinwheel in your garden. It’s fun to watch fun contraptions whirl and spin with the wind.
    Thank you for all the fun things you whirl and spin our way.
    Celebrate the fun in you.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  5. Joan,
    I’m glad you liked my new addition to my yard. I enjoy watching pinwheels spin too. I love how you said that I whirl and spin things your way. Thanks for keeping the theme going even in your comments. Clever gir!

  6. Juliana said

    Thanks for the in-depth explanation! I need the kind that repel rodents. We are under attack by mice… And better yet if it is as colorful as yours!

    • Juliana,
      I’m glad you liked my pinwheel colors. I found it at the $ store. Good deal!

      You are very welcome for the explanation about whirligigs. I wouldn’t mind trying one that repels rodents myself. We have voles.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

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