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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. I thought it would be fun to make a homemade Jacob’s Ladder toy with my kids. Did you know this toy is one of the oldest toys in America? It dates back to Pilgrim times! I thought that was pretty cool.
The Jacob’s Ladder is typically made with 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 all just flip over. They are a neat little toy!
How to Make Jacob’s Ladder
To make the 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. 😉
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.
Wrap the strings up again, and start over with a new square of cardboard. Glue, wrap, and repeat…
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!
I came across this YouTube video with two antique Jacob’s Ladder toys that were just incredible! Check it out!
See More Homemade Toys:
Magic Puzzle Cube
Homemade Snow Globe
Solar Powered Lego Car
Bubble Blowing Machine
Sherry Dinner says
These instructions feel incomplete. There’s no explanation of how you get it to flip, and how the 2 sets of ribbon relate to each other.
I wouldn’t want to spend time and effort without being sure it will work, and why.
These directions are not correct. You do not glue every time you move the ribbons over or you will have a glued tower of cardboard.