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I used to have a Jacob’s Ladder toy when I was a kid. I loved it and was always fascinated by how it worked. It is a pretty amazing contraption. I thought it would be fun to make a homemade Jacob’s Ladder toy with my kids.
The classic Jacob’s ladder has an interesting history, too. Did you know this toy is one of the oldest toys in America? They would be considered a victorian toy or a folk toy. It was first documented in the Scientific American Journal in the 1880’s. It’s name comes from the Bible story of Jacob in the book of Genesis when he sees a ladder from heaven to earth. I thought that was pretty cool.
The Jacob’s Ladder is typically made with blocks of wood and ribbon. The ribbon attaches them together and acts kind of like a hinge. When you hold the toy at the top, the blocks seem to cascade down to the bottom. The toy is actually a bit of an optical illusion. When you play with it, it looks like the blocks move from the top to the bottom, but they actually are just flipping over. They are a neat little toy!
How to Make Jacob’s Ladder
To make our Jacob’s Ladder, I used cardboard, tacky glue and skinny grosgrain ribbon. It would be best to use ribbon that is double sided since it flips back and forth a lot. I used ribbon from my stash & it was patterned, so do as I say, not as I do. Use a different color of ribbon for each row.
I cut 12 squares of cardboard 3 inches by 3 inches. Then I cut three pieces of ribbon 42 inches in length.
Cover one square with tacky glue and attach the ends of the ribbon as pictured. Put a second square on top of the glue making a little sandwich. This will be the top block.
Wrap the strings up again, and start over with a new square of cardboard. Glue, wrap, and repeat to make the second block, and so on.
After you have wrapped and glued all except the last set of squares, trim the ribbon so the ends will be enclosed in the last “sandwich” of squares.
Put a heavy book on top to press it while it dries.
Once it is dry, open it up and play! This is a nice quiet toy for kids!
I came across this YouTube video with two antique Jacob’s Ladder toys that were just incredible! Check it out!
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