Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope

Learn how to make a kaleidoscope in this fun STEM/science activity for kids. It’s such a fun way to explore light, reflections, and symmetry!

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STEM/STEAM and Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope using a cardboard tube- explore light, reflections, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

 

Last week I made these super fun kaleidoscopes with my after school science class (which is composed of 1st and 2nd graders). They loved exploring how their own designs reflected in the kaleidoscopes- such a fun STEAM activity for elementary students! (This post contains affiliate links.)

Meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 

  • Grade 1: Light and Sound PS 4 -2 and PS 4-3
  • Grade 4: PS 4-2

 

STEM/STEAM and Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope using a cardboard tube- explore light, reflections, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

STEAM for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope

Materials for Homemade Kaleidoscope

  • Empty toilet paper roll
  • Mylar sheets (thicker sheets, not rolls of thin paper)
  • Scissors and/or paper cutter (This is the paper cutter I keep at home. It’s come in super handy!)
  • Tape
  • 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 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.

 

We used cardboard tubes from an empty Cottonelle toilet paper roll. I’m not sure if different brands of toilet paper use different sizes of cardboard tubes, but these are the exact sizes that worked with our Cottonelle tubes. 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.

 

tape your mylar strips together

 

4. Fold the taped mylar into a triangular prism and tape along the top to hold in place.

 

form a triangular prism

 

5. This should fit snuggly inside your cardboard tube.

 

place the taped mylar sheets into your cardboard tube

 

6. Cut off the bendy end of a flexible straw.

 

cut your 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.)

 

free circle template

 

9. Poke a hole in the center of your circle. (I used a sharp pencil.)

 

poke a hole in your paper circle

 

10. Decorate the circle using markers, stickers, crayons etc. Try out different designs, shapes, and letters!

 

decorate your homemade kaleidoscope

 

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.

 

STEAM / Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope- explore reflections , light, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

 

12. Look into your kaleidoscope and explore all the reflections created by your design!

 

STEAM / Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope- explore reflections , light, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

 

Tips

  • 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!

STEAM / Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope- explore reflections , light, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

 


 

Be sure to check out STEAM Kids book and ebook for even more creative STEM and STEAM ideas!

STEAM Kids: 50+ STEAM STEM activities for kids

 
STEAM / Science for Kids: How to Make a Kaleidoscope- explore reflections , light, and symmetry! (Meets NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com

Comments

  1. Where do you find our mylar?
    What is the thickness?

  2. Can aluminum foiled replace Mylar sheets?

  3. Thank you so much. I shared this on our Facebook page today, so that teachers and parents can use this to help teach the Creation in Sunday School. It works great for teaching day 1, when God separated the light from the darkness.

  4. Do the Mylar Sheets need to be silver or will any color work?

  5. Can you suggest a cheaper alternative to the mylar sheets? I want to do this for about 200 kids at Vacation Bible School, but we cannot afford to purchase that many mylar sheets. Thanks!

    • You can use Transparency Sheets instead of Mylar. It is much cheaper.

    • pam burnfield says:

      I’m using these for our VBS too. I couldn’t find the Mylar so I tried the Transparency Sheets and they do work. I also tried the heavier scrap book paper in a shiny silver and that worked too. Can’t wait to see what the children create.

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  1. […] Be awed at the beautiful patterns created in this basic kaleidoscope craft and marvel at the play of light and colors! Full tutorial at Buggy and […]

  2. […] Making this fun homemade kaleidoscope is fast and easy to do. For full instructions visit Buggy and Buddy. […]

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