Zip Line Toy

I’ve always loved zip lines.  As a boy I even made a real zip line from my treehouse.  Jack and Tess aren’t quite ready for that though, so I thought of this idea for a little zip line toy.  I bent some paper clips and taped them to the wall, then tied a long string between them.  Then bent another paper clip around an empty sewing machine bobbin, and weighted it down with some buttons.  It works quite well, and it’s fun for the kids to load buttons onto, then watch them zoom down.

Jack went back to it immediately after his nap.  Nice.


  1. Make mine Mid-Century
    July 12, 2010 at 5:20 am

    I never had a zip-line toy. I'm not really sure what they are.

    Maybe they're not too common in Australia?

    Yours looks nicely relaxing ... and great for fine-motor skills!

  2. Helen
    July 12, 2010 at 6:01 am

    What age group would you recommend for being able to use this toy?
    Because your son looks young but obviously not so young that he wants to eat the buttons?

  3. Maja B
    July 12, 2010 at 7:04 am

    It´s so fun to follow your blog...
    So many good ideas...
    I have linked to your blog at my blog, hopes it okay...;o)
    //Maja B, Denmark

  4. Lori Henriques
    July 12, 2010 at 7:10 am

    genial! and so cute to see a little puffy-eyed boy who must return to pre-nap activities without wait. :) a familiar site around here, too...

  5. Shoosha
    July 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

    so cool!!! love love love your blog, waiting impatiently for your book
    thank you for sharing all this great and stylish ideas

  6. Hege Evensen
    July 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

    So fun, I think we need to test this out!

  7. Michele
    July 12, 2010 at 10:46 am

    to the australian commenter - I too am aust and we do have them here but prob refer too as a flying fox or a pulley rather than a "zipline"

  8. Jess
    July 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for the idea! You have a gift for finding awesome toys in the most unusual places.

  9. Marisa
    July 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Oh no. My kids are going to love this. I'm saving this for the next time my 6yr old says, "I'm bored!" I see lots of Polly Pockets going for zip line rides. I'll need to make it strong enough to hold Lightning McQueen, though, for my almost 3yr old.

  10. Audra
    July 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Very cool!

  11. Joel Henriques
    July 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks everybody! Yeah, there are probably a lot of different names for this sort of thing. I'm not an expert on it. I do see a lot of things like this to hang on in the playgrounds these days. Very fun.

    Marisa - That's a really good idea. I'll have to make a pulley that holds lego men. Jack would be super excited about that. Nice one!

  12. Maiz
    July 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Okay, it's almost 3pm and I can't believe we're still in our pajamas racing little plastic guys down the zip lines strings that are criss-crossing our living room! I'll send you some pictures.

  13. Joel Henriques
    July 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Ooh, I've got to see that Maiz. Yeah, I thought you guys would like this one!

  14. Rolley
    July 13, 2010 at 1:23 am

    ah, so cute, you're so clever. That reminds me of things my grandpa used to make for us, gadgets and strings to open doors and things we couldn't reach and stuff.
    I'd never have thought of it, I'm mechanically challenged hehe. But, thanks for the inspiration, how awesome.

  15. del4yo
    July 13, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Clever, yet simple. Genius. I love it!

  16. Colombo
    July 13, 2010 at 5:48 am

    I give the little guy a few seconds before he swaps the button passengers for action figures :)

  17. Anonymous
    July 13, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I LOVE your blog! It's just what I needed to get my kids out of the summer-time boredom. We have HOT summers, so we can't spend too much time outside.

  18. tochitsa
    July 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    This is so ingenious :) Really cool, congratulations! Love the simplicity of your ideas, the natural feel. Linked to your blog with great pleasure.

  19. Jana@Weekend Vintage
    July 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    You are the coolest dad ever!

  20. sara's art house
    July 13, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    I am so impressed with your toys and art. Keep up the GREAT work!

  21. Stephanie
    July 14, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Your blog is amazing! I just started reading over your last few posts and found myself going back through many, many posts! Every post is great, I am a new follower for sure.

  22. sherri
    July 14, 2010 at 3:11 am


  23. Laura
    July 14, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Very nice! We have a zipline, or "seilbahn" as we say here in Germany that has a little wooden carriage for carrying a few things. We string it from the top of my son's high bed to the other side of the room. Both of our boys love it.
    I love your idea. Simple and also so much fun! Nice work.

    Laura in Ludwigsburg

  24. Isabel
    July 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Joel. Mi ingles es muuuuy malo, asique lo mio va en castellano.
    Solo queria felicitarte por TOOOODO lo que vengo viendo dde que descubri tu blog. Me fascinan tus inventitos con cero recursos y 100% creatividad. Tengo chiquitos de 4 y 8 años y se lo que se maravillan ellos con cada detalle y esto es el paraiso!

  25. Joel Henriques
    July 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks so much everybody! Very kind. Glad you all found my blog.

  26. Nanny Dee
    July 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Hi Joel --

    Add another fan to the bunch! I found your blog through a link about your paper city at Money Saving Mom. I love your ideas as well!

    Being a nanny to a toddler boy is very different from my days when my only daughter was small, so I really appreciate your creative ideas that I know he will enjoy. I thought Marisa's idea above was a great addition.

    I also hope it's okay that I put a link on my blog to your blog and activities:

    Can't get enough of frugal fun with kids! :D


  27. varunner
    July 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    My cousin in law posted a link to your site so I came over. Love this idea! My 3 yr old is all about ziplines (thanks, Diego) so we'll definitely give this a shot :-)

  28. pammalu
    July 20, 2010 at 11:07 am

    zip line= awesome use of house hold goodies for amazing fun!

  29. Erin @ Letter Soup
    July 22, 2010 at 3:55 am

    This is such a great idea! I can see some Legos going for a ride at our house!

  30. jokemijn
    July 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    haha, he still looks a little sleepy :) i can see why he wanted to get out of bed for this, great idea!

  31. Marisa
    July 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Alright, I rigged up a zip line this morning. Fishing line zip with paper clip harnesses. We gave rides to Polly Pocket (with and without her boogie board), a Matchbox-size bulldozer, two tiny fairies, and a Little People construction worker.

    We had so much fun. I'm keeping the zip line up for a while, but not too long. It's clear fishing line, and in a high traffic area, and I keep running into it. :)

    Thanks again Joel!

  32. Joel Henriques
    July 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks everybody! Sounds like you're all making some awesome zip-lines!

    Marisa - Good idea with the fishing line. I bet that makes it really fast!

  33. Mayer Photography {The Blog}
    July 29, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Oh! My Dad made zip lines for us- on heavy duty rope with pulleys and a seat. One of my best memories from childhood. We had a ladder made of 2x4's up the tree to get high enough to do the 90 feet of zip. Great Dad, Great Childhood.

  34. Maryam
    August 22, 2010 at 1:52 am

    i'm loving your blog! we did this project today and the kids have been having a lot of fun sending toys down the zip line, weighed down with buttons. tomorrow we're going to make one for us, the big people...

    September 5, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Just when I think I need to cut down on "following" ( I haven't update my own blog for a week; I've hardly sewn or made anything for a week, and I start working an extra 25hours a week from tomorrow) and then I find your blog full of amazing ideas for work ( I'm starting an After School Club at school for 4 to 11 year olds), so i've * added* to my following, but how could I not???


  36. Anonymous
    September 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for the idea. I modified my version, using one of those Chinese take-out boxes they sell at iParty for 59 cents. Simply cut off the top flaps, detach one end of the wire handle and thread it through the bobbin before reattaching. Voila, a cable car!

  37. Joel Henriques
    September 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks everybody! Great to hear all of your versions of zip line toys!

    Anonymous - That take-out box idea sounds perfect! I've got to try that. Nice one!

  38. monkeyDluffy
    February 11, 2011 at 6:34 am

    When I was younger, I really wondered how it would feel like to fly thanks to Peter Pan and Superman. [LOL]

    zip wires

  39. Felicia
    March 9, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Thanks for your blog- we love it. Your ideas are so simple yet so genius. Thanks for this idea in particular! We made one yesterday. (
    Good luck with your book- can't wait to see it.

  40. Anonymous
    March 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    This is just what I've been looking for. Got a zip line going between the roof of a tall doll house and the top of a toy castle...but couldnt find anything to hook up to it...the sewing bobbin will be perfect. Kids are going to love it. Thanks!

  41. June 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    aaaw this remembers me of a story of my hubby he had above his bed such a plaything for his sky lift. i want to make such one for in my new home to be, thank you for showing and sharing this funny toy;-D You made me smile;-D

  42. m
    June 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Just back from sneaking upstairs and installing one of those for my boys! They will be so thrilled when they wake up, heck, they might even play for a while before they wake me up! :-) Followed the suggestion of one of the other commenters and attached a small and light plastic container (from a packet of cookies) to the wire and now have a cable car (they will want to transport food in it, I just know!). I had no paper clips in the house so just used strong florist's wire. Such fun!

  43. Chris Kim
    July 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    holy dudds! my friends and i decided 2 make a ruth goldberg or wateva its called and we r ending up to blow an airhorn! ur ideas r just- incredible. this invention right here. this is an excellent idea. ima use mini wire cords that r 1 cm thick and tie a waterbottle! omg. ill send u pics asap. u rock- u must b an awesome father :D.

    1. July 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Ha, thanks! And yeah, send pics. You can upload them on the Made by Joel Facebook page if you want!

  44. August 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    [...] Zip Line Toy – Indoor zip line toy. You can attach Lego or action figures to it too! [...]

  45. December 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    [...] Made By Joel : Crafty Daddy alert. This is the kind of dad who can make bits of wires into a fun toy. [...]

  46. February 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    [...] is one of the project we did last year, the Zip Line Toy, that A enjoyed very much. We tweaked Joel’s original idea as A was all about pirates. Though [...]

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