OK, this is a silly one, and I even have to admit you can find a few toys like this on the internet. A site for teachers describes how to make one using a pencil. But I feel entitled posting this Instructable because I can remember when my dad made one for us kids roughly 60 years ago. My brother and I were completely baffled how he would rub a little dowel on a notched stick and the little wooden propeller at the end would start spinning, and then he would say, "stop and go the other way," and without the slightest perceptible change in anything he was doing, the propeller would obey. And of course we would try and try and fail.
Naturally there was a trick, and for those who have not seen this toy, I will reveal the trick at the end of this Instructable.
You need a few little pieces of scrap wood -- almost any kind will do, and a small brad.
Step 1: Step One
I used my table saw to rip a piece of pine to about 5/16th inch square, and cut it to about 12 inches in length.
Starting about three inches from one end, and continuing to about one inch from the other end, I marked one edge, using pencil, with 1/4 inch intervals.
Then, using a small, fairly coarse, square file, I filed notches in one edge.
Since folks are going to be rubbing this stick like crazy, it needs a very good sanding including rounding the edges slightly.