At the very real risk of being labelled internet wide as a terrible mummy, I'm going to give you a tutorial on how to make your kids homemade poi.
Poi are used often in performance arts and a friend of mine got me hooked on them years ago but, as with most things in life, where it can be very difficult for an adult to learn to use them kids master them in a matter of days.
I still try as often as the weather permits to get into the garden with a set because using poi is a fantastic form of exercise and is also great for developing coordination, balance and grace, three things which I sometimes lack. I also found that when I worked as a secretary, spending hours chained to a pc typing left me with very stiff, sore wrists and poi swinging helped to ease and soften the muscles and get rid of the cramps.
So, to make a set of poi for you kids (or for yourself) you'll need the following;
A pair of old socks (kids knee length or regular adult size ankle length will do)*
Two sandwich bags or small cheapy plastic bags.
60g of rice
Some bubble wrap (old towelling or fleece will work too)
Elastic bands or regular kitchen string.
The first thing you need to do is take a measurement. If these are for a child take a measurement from their underarm to their wrist, for an adult measure from the fingertips to the shoulder. If, like mine, your child doesn't fancy standing still while you take the measurement just use a well fitting coat or jumper to get the right length.
Keep a note of the measurement (mine happened to be 10 inches). Then measure out exactly 30 grams of rice into each of the two plastic bags. You do need to be precise about the weight because even a gram or two can throw off the balance.**
Then tie a knot in each bag a couple of inches away from the rice. Don't compact the rice into a ball and tie the knot close to it, the point is to allow the rice to move around as freely as possible inside the bag.
Next take a square of bubble wrap or soft cloth and pinch the four corners together around the bag of rice, again not compacting the rice in any way. My square of bubble wrap was 6in X 6in.
And then place the bag in the toe of the sock.
Hold the sock in your hand and give it a good shake to make sure the bag of rice is well seated in the bottom of the sock.
Then taking an elastic band or a piece of string wrap or tie it around the sock about an inch above the rice bag.
You can see that there is still plenty of give in the ball end of the sock.
Next take the poi along with your measurement. Its easier to set a ruler or tape measure down, rather than trying to eyeball it.
And stretch the sock out to its fullest and make a note of the measurement on the sock (easy with mine because of the stripes). You really need to stretch the sock as far as it will go because it will stretch when spun and you don't want it getting a couple of inches longer all of a sudden mid flight (trust me, learnt that lesson the hard way).
Then just tie a knot at the measurement mark when stretched and you're done. Once the sock has relaxed back to its original length it will look very short, but it will stretch to the full length at some point during spinning so it really is better to be safe with this one.
Repeat the steps again for the second poi and you're ready to go.
Start by learning to spin the poi forwards, once you're completely comfortable with that then begin to spin them backwards.
You can then move on to split time swinging, chasing the sun, the windmill (which I totally rock btw) and loads and loads more.
The trick to teaching kids to swing poi is to teach them to keep their arms straight. That's it, it really is that simple. If you follow the instructions above and your child keeps their arms straight regardless of where their arms are positioned, its quite difficult for them to hit themselves with the poi. You also want the child to hold the knot while spinning the poi. You can also make sure the knot is pulled tight and then cut away any excess fabric.
*I didn't use a pair of socks because I happened to have a pair of Toots old skater sleeves lying around. It meant that I had to sew one end of the sleeves closed, but if you use socks you don't have to bother with this step and don't worry that the heel makes them look a funny shape, they still work the same way and swing straight.
**There are some instructions around which suggest using crumpled up plastic bags or cotton wool to stuff the ball end. Please feel free to do this if the thought of rice or lentils concerns you. I've tried a few different methods and have just found that the rice works best. The poi seem to work better and are less likely to go off track or get caught by the wind when there is a bit of weight at the end of the poi.
What I do it add the weight, but I make sure that it is "soft weight". Made this way, even if the poi does happen to hit you the weight isn't solid so it gives and flattens. Toots and I have hit ourselves with these a few times but never hurt or even bruised ourselves with them.