How to Make a Kaleidoscope
Materials for Homemade Kaleidoscope
- Empty toilet paper roll
- Mylar sheets (thicker sheets, not rolls of thin paper) or mirrored sheets
- Scissors and/or paper cutter (This is the paper cutter I keep at home. It’s come in super handy!)
- White cardstock
- Bendy straw
- Markers, stickers, or other materials for decorating your spinning circle
- Optional: Paint for decorating your cardboard tube
Directions for Homemade Kaleidoscope
1. If you are planning on painting your cardboard tube, do that first. We used our favorite tempera paint. Set it aside to dry.
2. Next, you’ll need to cut your mylar sheets or mirrored sheets into three equal strips. You’ll want the size to be just right so the finished kaleidoscope insert fits snuggly in your cardboard tube and won’t fall out.
(You might need to adjust yours depending on the size of your tube. Since you won’t want to waste any mylar, practice sizing yours using cardstock first. We cut our mylar into strips that measured 9.7cm x 3.5 cm.)
3. Line up your mylar strips, leave a tiny space between each one. (Place the shiniest/least scratched sides face down.) Tape them together over the spaces.
4. Fold the taped mylar into a triangular prism and tape along the top to hold in place.
5. This should fit snuggly inside your cardboard tube.
6. Cut off the bendy end of a flexible straw.
7. Tape it along the top of your tube with the flexible part of the straw hanging over the edge.
8. Cut out 3 circles from cardstock. Ours measured 3.75 inches in diameter. (You can print out our free circle template or just make your own.)
9. Poke a hole in the center of your circle. (I used a sharp pencil.)
10. Decorate the circle using markers, stickers, crayons etc. Try out different designs, shapes, and letters!
11. Place the circle onto your straw with the design facing the kaleidoscope. You want the hole to fit over the flexible portion of the straw so it will turn easily.
12. Look into your kaleidoscope and explore all the reflections created by your design!
- If you have trouble getting your triangular prism to fit snuggly into your cardboard tube, it will work on its own. Simply tape the straw directly on top of the prism rather than using a tube.
- Make as many cardstock circles as you want and try them all out!
Share with us Your Kaleidoscopes
Send us your pictures to the following email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tag us on social media