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.

47 Responses
  1. Make mine Mid-Century

    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

    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

    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

    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

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

  6. Michele

    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"

  7. Marisa

    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.

  8. Joel Henriques

    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!

  9. Maiz

    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.

  10. Rolley

    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.

  11. Colombo

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

  12. Anonymous

    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.

  13. tochitsa

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

  14. Stephanie

    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.

  15. Laura

    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

  16. Isabel

    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!

  17. Nanny Dee

    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


  18. varunner

    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 :-)

  19. jokemijn

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

  20. Marisa

    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!

  21. Joel Henriques

    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!

  22. Mayer Photography {The Blog}

    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 2×4's up the tree to get high enough to do the 90 feet of zip. Great Dad, Great Childhood.

  23. Maryam

    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…

  24. SLIKstitches.blogspot.com

    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???


  25. Anonymous

    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!

  26. Joel Henriques

    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!

  27. Anonymous

    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!

  28. 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

  29. m

    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!

  30. Chris Kim

    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.