The kaleidoscope is one of those toys that make me nostalgic for my childhood. Today, just before children go back to school, I'd like to show how to make a homemade kaleidoscope toy. On the photo above you can see samples of what's seen through the kaleidoscope I've built with my kids. Each pattern is enclosed in a black circle because of the way I photographed them. In reality though, you should see continuous patterns throughout the field of view.
You will need:
- A large plastic mirror like those used in baby toys. I had one broken.
- Colored beads.
- Craft knife and metal ruler to cut the mirror.
- Any adhesive tape.
- Nice wrapping paper.
- Toilet paper or paper towel tubes.
- Pieces of transparent and semitransparent plastic from a used packaging (i.e. of yogurt).
1. Cut the mirror into three equal strips, approximately 12 inches (31 cm) long. An approximate width of the strips can be calculated according to the following formula: 0.866*D, where D is the diameter of the tubes you have.
2. Build a prism out of the strips putting them together so that their reflective sides face inwards. Secure with the adhesive tape.
3. Insert the prism into a long tube built out of the toilet paper tubes. This tube must be about 3/8 inch (1 cm) longer than the mirrors at both ends. Stack and cut the short tubes if needed.
4. Cover one end of the prism with a round piece of transparent plastic and put colored beads loosely on it.
5. Then cover this end of the tube with a piece of semitransparent plastic and seal it using the adhesive tape.
6. Close the other end of the kaleidoscope with a piece of cardboard that has a small hole (about 1/4 inch or 6 mm) in its center.
7. Finally, wrap your kaleidoscope in a wrapping paper or decorate it in any other way you like.
Now point the toy to a source of light (make sure the light isn't too bright) and look through it. Create new unique patterns by rotating the tube. Enjoy!