I was browsing through YouTube videos recently, when I ran across a silent video about a Jacob’s ladder. A Jacob’s ladder is a folk toy made of wooden blocks, connected by strings of ribbon. When you hold aloft a stack of the blocks, and then let go of all of them except the first block, the blocks appear to tumble down like a waterfall. For this reason the toy is also known as “tumbling blocks.” The term “Jacob’s ladder” comes from a Biblical allusion in the Book of Genesis that refers to a ladder to heaven. In any event, the toy is a lot of fun for children and adults alike, especially since you can do tricks with it.

For some reason the image of a Jacob’s ladder wouldn’t leave my mind. I began thinking about how I might be able to create a book whose pages tumbled in the same way that the blocks of a Jacob’s ladder do. It wouldn’t be exactly the same, but I was convinced I could make it work.

“What in the world would anyone do with a book like that?” asked my husband. “It would be as thick as a hamburger.”


My Jacob’s ladder-like book, instead of individual blocks, has three sections for three types of paper: blank, grid (or graph) paper, and lined pages. The three types of paper represent three ways of thinking, since the book is designed to be a “Creative Ideas Accordion Notebook” where you can capture all of your ideas, inklings, or designs—no matter how they occur to you—in words, pictures, symbols or numbers.

3 Types of Paper

Like a Jacob’s ladder toy, you can extend the book vertically, and its components come tumbling down.

Jacob's Ladder Drop

You can also play visual tricks with the sections in the book, just as you do with a real Jacob’s ladder.




This particular Creative Ideas Accordion Notebook is a prototype, but there will be more to follow in my Etsy shop, Mister PenQuin. It’s odd how ideas get started, don’t you think?


© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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8 thoughts on “Inspired by a folk toy”

  1. Sarah ~ Magnolia Surprise

    Brilliant! These are sure to be best sellers — fun to record your thoughts and ideas, and to play with!!

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