Making a pulley!

My 4yo son loves anything with an engineering twist to it, and has been wanting to make a pulley for a while. When I was thinking about ‘Germany week’, I thought about the highest mountain in Germany – the Zugspitz – which I have been fortunate enough to go up. We went up in a cable car, and that got me thinking – we can make a pulley system to transport little lego men up our stairs mountain!

To do this, you need – a plastic cup, some string, a skewer, some card, a loo roll, some masking tape and sellotape, some glue and some scissors. Below you’ll see it all set up for two of us – I made a pulley at the same time as my son so I could show him what to do.

First, take the loo roll and cut it into two. If you’re only making one pulley, you just need one of these bits. Then take the card, and draw two circles that are larger than the loo roll – I used a glass to do this.Cut these out and glue them to the loo roll at each end so it looks like a cotton reel. Then set aside to allow the glue to dry.

Whilst the reels are drying, take the plastic cup. Use the skewer to punch 3 holes very near the top, evenly spaced around the rim. It may be sensible to let the adult do this bit, unless you are doing this with a much older child. Take your string, and cut three small pieces of the same length and one much longer piece. Poke the three small pieces through the three holes (one through each) and tie them to the rim. Then tie them together in the middle.

Then take the reel, which should hopefully now be dry, and carefully poke the skewer through from one side to the other (again, you know your child and whether it’s sensible for them to be doing this or you). At this point, I put a lot of masking tape around the pointed end of the skewer so that when it was being played with, it wouldn’t pose a risk.

Then take your long piece of string, and sellotape one end to the reel, and tie the other end to the bit where the three pieces of string are tied together on your cup. Then take it to the stairs, or a chair, and try it out!


Hi! I’m Claire, stay-at-home-mum to two gorgeous boys and a lovely girl. My kids are energetic, spirited and full-of-life, and they certainly keep me on my toes. I love spending time with them and seeing them learn and experience new things – I hope that this blog will give you ideas to try out on the children in your life!

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