Homemade Kaleidoscope Activity

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Updated on Mar 24, 2016

Have you ever wanted to make your own kaleidoscope? Make one with objects you have at home, and build an amazing tool that your child will love. Besides having fun, you can also incorporate a math or science lesson by including measurement and reflective properties while you build. Be careful with the sharp tools!

What You Need:

  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Super glue
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Small hack saw
  • Decorative objects, such as beads and glitter (transparent options work great)
  • 3 CDs with a neutral reflective surface, like silver
  • Plastic tube, such as a PVC pipe or toilet paper roll (1 inch in diameter, 5-7 inches long)
  • Permanent marker
  • Clear tape
  • Paper towels
  • Clear material for lens (paper protectors, transparencies, etc.)

What You Do:

  1. Draw a rectangle that is 2 centimeters wide and as long as possible on the reflective side of the CD. This will serve as the kaleidoscope mirror. Draw two more of these.
  2. Cut into the CDs with a utility knife and the scissors. You can tape down the back of the CD if the reflective material starts to come off.
  3. Have your child arrange the rectangles so that they form a triangle. The mirrors should face each other. Wrap rubber bands around this formation to secure them in place. Make sure that this formation can slide in and fit inside the tube well.
  4. Put tape inside the tube to hold the mirrors together on the outside.
  5. If your tube has a closed end, saw this off so that both ends are open.
  6. Ask your child to measure the length of the mirrors, as the tube should be 1 to 1.5 inches longer. Make sure the tube is this long.
  7. Saw off 3/4 of an inch off the tube, as this piece will contain the small decorative objects at the end of the kaleidoscope.
  8. Make sure your tube ends are smooth and can sit along a surface without gaps. If there are gaps, sand the tube and then clean it with a paper towel.
  9. Take your clear material for the 3 lenses you will make. Ask your child to hold the tube up against the clear material. Draw a circle on the material around the tube with a permanent marker. Do this 2 more times.
  10. Cut these three circles out, and wash and dry them so they are smooth.
  11. Glue one of these circles to the 3/4 inch piece of the tube.
  12. Attach another of these circles to one end of the longer tube.
  13. Have your child put the decorative objects together to put inside the kaleidoscope. When the glue dries on the 3/4 inch piece of the tube, put the decorations inside. Place the last plastic circle on the other end of this small tube piece. Let this dry.
  14. Have your child put the mirrors into the longer tube.
  15. Glue the two tubes together!

When everything has dried, you'll have an awesome kaleidoscope! Have your child turn this instrument around and around. Take a look at the decorations in the light, and be amazed at the beautiful designs!

Amy Hengst is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area, with experience writing about education, technology, and crafts.