Using the sun and light for the basis for this activity, enjoy creating your own Kaleidoscope.
Focus: Science and Art
Kaleidoscope: Make your own kaleidoscope with simple materials and watch as the sunlight bounces off the colored beads and sequins and is reflected to create beautiful patterns when you look inside it.
- 1 clear plastic report cover or 1 sheet of mirror board (available at craft stores or online)
- Paper towel tube
- Plastic wrap
- Black construction paper
- Rubber band
- Sharpened pencil
- Small beads (translucent work best), sequins, confetti, or glitter
- Markers (optional)
- Stickers (optional)
- Duct tape (optional)
- Wrapping paper (optional)
- Draw an 8 x 4-inch rectangle on the clear plastic report cover or mirror board.
- Draw three vertical lines across the rectangle, dividing it into three 1 ¼-inch rectangles and one ¼-inch rectangle.
- Cut out the large rectangle with scissors.
- Fold along the lines to form a triangular shape. The quarter-inch strip will be taped along the outside edge to help the triangle hold its shape.
- Slide the triangle into the paper towel tube. The tube may need to be trimmed down to meet the end of the triangular form.
- Stand the paper towel tube on end and trace a circle around it on a piece of black construction paper. Then cut out the circle and glue it around one end of the paper towel tube.
- Use the sharpened pencil to poke a hole through the center of the black circle.
- Cut out a 4-inch square of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap over the other end of the tube. Gently poke it down into the plastic triangle until it forms a small pouch. Be sure that the corners of the plastic wrap remain exposed. Fill the pouch with the translucent beads, sequins, confetti, or glitter.
- Cut out a 4-inch square of waxed paper.
- Seal the items in by placing the waxed paper over the pouch and down around the paper towel tube. Secure with a rubber band over both the waxed paper and the plastic wrap. Make sure the rubber band is on tight so the beads do not spill out.
- Optional: Trim the corners of the waxed paper and plastic wrap.
- Optional: Cover the rubber band with duct tape for a decorative effect.
- Optional: Decorate the paper towel tube with stickers, markers, duct tape, or wrapping paper.
- Note: Remind your child never to look directly at the sun. Hold the tube up to a lighted area and look through the hole. Slowly turn the tube so the pieces inside move and the patterns change.
- Briefly explain how the kaleidoscope works. A kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple reflections, where several mirrors or reflective items are placed at an angle to one another. Typically there are three reflective objects (usually mirrors) set at 60° to each other so that they form an equilateral triangle. The 60° angle generates an infinite regular grid of duplicate images of the original. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the colored objects presents varying colors and patterns.
- Research to find out who invented the kaleidoscope.
- Research to discover different materials used to produce kaleidoscopes.
- Kaleidoscopes produce patterns, symmetry, and transformations. Further, explore these mathematical concepts.