I am not sure what they are called, but as a child I called it a Whirly. They were a great find this last weekend in the Easter basket toys at Walmart. It would be a good time to look for them. I was trying to find new mechanical toys for my early language learners who get engaged by anything that spins and pops. For $2 you couldn’t go too wrong. I did wonder how long it would last but it was sturdy enough to make it through a morning of therapy with the younger K through -2nd grade Life skills class. There is a precaution for aiming it at people and there is the string to watch out for.
I used it this week and it was a big hit. It was great for learning communication intents and making requests. It gave opportunities to review the concepts of around and over. If the string was pulled strong enough the spinner would stay on the ceiling a few minutes spinning over our heads. The students would give me the Whirly and make requests for fast pulls. We also practiced a few more prepositions when finding the location of that spinner after it came down. A few of my students needed a person to hold the device while they pulled the string. This encouraged joint attention to a task. I like it when a toy can offer so much opportunity for natural communication with very little effort.
Here is the communication board I used for the activity.