Fun Friday- Make a simple kaleidoscope

The weekend already…Yay! Hope you are doing something fun…. if you are looking for an activity to entertain your children why not try this?… My junior scientists had great fun making these simple kaleidoscopes and learning about light and reflection!

Fun Friday - Make a Simple Kaleidoscope
Fun Friday – Make a Simple Kaleidoscope


Here is what you will need:

  • a sheet of mirrored card* (we found a packed of A4 mirrored card in our local craft shop)
  • a ruler
  • a scissors
  • some felt pens
  • tracing paper/transparent paper
  • a sheet of clear plastic (optional)


What to do…

1. Cut a 6cm strip off the long end of our A4 mirrored card leaving the card 24 cm in length

2. Fold the card in half (mirror side in) so that the short ends meet

3. Open back out the card and next fold the short ends in so that they meet in the middle

4. You should now have a card with three folds and four sections, 6 cm wide



5. Next fold the card into a triangle (mirrored side in), with one of the strips overlapping

6. Tape this overlapping strip along the edge so the triangle is now secure – this will be the tube of your kaleidoscope

The tube of the kaleidoscope - mirrored surface on the inside
The tube of the kaleidoscope – mirrored surface on the inside


7. Now it is time to prepare the designs for your kaleidoscope… we used the coloured pens to draw designs on a square piece of clear plastic, at least 6 X 6 cm in size.

The design team at work
The design team at work


Some of the finished designs
Some of the finished designs

8. Once finished tape the coloured squares on to a piece of transparent paper (or you can just draw your design directly onto transparent paper if you wish)

9. Now it is time to use your Kaleidoscope… hold the transparent paper with the design up to a window or a light source, look at it through the kaleidoscope… rotate the paper and see how the patterns change

Using the kaleidoscope
Using the kaleidoscope



We love the results
We love the results

What is happening?

Light travels through the transparent paper into the kaleidoscope where is bounces off each of the three sides before reaching our eyes. As each side is mirrored it reflects the light that bounces off it and also the light bouncing off the other mirrored sides of the kaleidoscope. All this reflecting makes multiple images of different parts of the pattern and create a very interesting effect.

Do have a go it is great fun! 

*Note: if you cannot get mirrored card you can use cardboard covered in aluminium foil. This will work better if you also add a layer of clear plastic on top of the foil… creating a better mirror! 



Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!

4 thoughts on “Fun Friday- Make a simple kaleidoscope

  • March 31, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I want to live in your house you have so much fun!! 🙂

    • March 31, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Haha thanks Sara, the rest of the family don’t always agree when I forget all about dinner 😉

  • March 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Fantastic, I loved these when I was younger, and! I’m pretty sure I have mirrored card too: woohoo!!

    • March 21, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      We loved them too and the mirrored card give great results. I have made the more complex kaleidoscopes before but was so pleased with these simple ones Emily!

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