creating a kaleidoscope

my daughter received a build your own kaleidoscope kit for her birthday a few months ago, and we just broke it out this week to create our own. oh glorious light shining through color, you get me every time!

as my regular readers know by now, i’m not a fan of pre-fab art kits, so my hope was to figure out from this kit how one could make this from materials in your recycling bin. hmm…

at first glance, it seemed like the materials provided were adaptable enough: cardboard tubes, plastic film for lenses, plastic rings, 3 reflective strips, glittery paper and beads, and decorative stickers. once we unwrapped the kit, i realized there are four different diameters of cardboard tubes that fit together precisely, and the plastic rings that allow for things to be held together fit them perfectly.

so perhaps this particular model is not as adaptable as i’d hoped — you could use a paper towel roll and then raid your gift wrapping tubes for various diameters of tubes that fit tightly inside of one another, use wax paper and clear wrap for lenses, and get plastic mirrored sheets and cut three strips of those. there are some ideas for simpler models to make with household items at the end of this entry. regardless, N had a lot of fun with this.

filling the end with sparkly treasures

we assembled the kaleidoscope according to the very easy (6 step) instructions.

there’s a part where we had to wait for glue to dry, and i have to say that’s when we had the bulk of our fun. first we taped together the three mirrored pieces they provided.

then we folded them into a triangle shape and enjoyed looking at each other, things in our home, and our cat at through them and cracking up!

(putting my iphone camera lens up to the mirror worked well for photos!) click image to view larger

N cut up the adhesive colorful sticker sheets and decorated the tubes with funky patterns.

you know you want that shirt - 😉


when we put the kaleidoscope together, it was so satisfying to see it working!

we spent a lot of the afternoon twisting and shaking (the kaleidoscope, that is) to find new and beautiful patterns.

i found a few online tutorials for making your own kaleidoscope:

we’re going to try one of these homegrown versions soon… ah, if only pringles were gluten free, i could snack while creating! (if nothing else, after writing this blog i will forever know how to spell kaleidoscope!)

i’m curious – have any of you made your own kaleidoscope from household items?



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  • I see the dilemma! There’s a teacher resource center that I frequent (RAFT) that sells nesting paper tubes, but I have no idea where you’d get them otherwise. Time to put the crafty hat on! BTW, we are enjoying the mandala book! Thanks for the post on that.

  • I tried using the pringles version for a kids workshop several years ago and it worked really well – a single tube works fine as you just turn the whole thing to change the patterns. Who needs pre-prepared kits?

  • jen

    rachelle – oooh, i must learn what RAFT is!
    jude – i couldn’t agree more – who needs kits?! i want to make the pringle kind next…

  • The pringles can one does seem super easy and we happen to have a pringles can! We bought one for a school project and never used it! This one is cool too: YOu draw with sharpies on the lid!