A kaleidoscope is a tube-shaped toy made with reflective panels that line its inside and filled with shiny objects. One end of the kaleidoscope has an eye hole and the other end has a frosted covering, where the light enters the toy. As the kaleidoscope is slowly turned, the shiny objects change position and reflect the light. The triangle of rotating, reflective panels, creates an optical illusion of identical patterns and colors. This captivating toy can easily be made from items you already have in your home.
Making the Kaleidoscope
Reflective panels are made by cutting a 4-inch x 8-inch rectangle from thick, clear plastic sheeting or shiny foil. The rectangle is marked on the 4-inch side every 1 ¼ inches, leaving ¼ inches at the end. Three 8-inch lines are drawn across the length of the rectangle. Folding the rectangle along the three drawn lines creates the reflective panels. Shape the rectangle on the folds into a triangle and secure it by taping the ¼-inch flap closed. Measure and mark eight inches on the paper towel cardboard center and cut with scissors, making it the same length as the plastic or foil triangle.
Slide the plastic or foil triangle inside the paper towel center. Set one end of the paper towel center on a piece of black construction paper, trace around it, and cut the traced circle with scissors. Using tape, attach the black circle to one end of the paper towel center by taping around the edges. Use scissors or a pencil to poke a small hole in the middle of the black circle.
Turn the paper towel center over to stand it on the other end and cover it with a piece of clear plastic wrap. Create a pocket in the plastic wrap one inch deep with your finger. Fill this pocket with shiny beads, sequins, rhinestones, glitter or confetti in a rainbow of colors, and cover the end with waxed paper. Secure the waxed paper with a rubber band tight enough to keep the beads from falling out. Trim the excess waxed paper and plastic wrap with scissors. Cover the outside of the kaleidoscope with foil or decorative wrapping paper for a finished look. Use care not to cover the waxed paper or the eye hole.
Tip: A toilet paper roller can be used in place of a paper towel center to make the kaleidoscope.
Using the Kaleidoscope
Hold the waxed paper end of the kaleidoscope up to a source of light and look through the eye hole while slowly rotating it to see the colors and pattern change.