Children's Activities · Childrens Crafts

DIY Kaleidoscopes!

I 💓 Kaleidoscopes! So delighted to commence a little exploration into making one at home to share!

Kaleidoscope’s were invented by Scottish scientist David Brewster when a patent was granted on July 10, 1817. The instrument came about through his experiments with the polarisation of light and physical optics, you can find more out about him online! The Kaleidoscope was a huge commercial success in his life time and even my modest tinkering with it to share with you has given me a taster of it’s two fold beauty! 😁 Both as a science discovery and awesome visual pattern maker!

So how do we make one?

I made three versions and my favourite is Version 2, the one that uses a Pringles tin, no beads and mirrored card on the inside to make the prism with a hand decorated disc at the end, you turn yourself. 😁💓🌈🖌🎨xx

Version 1 with beads (if you just love beads!)


  • Kitchen Roll Tube, decorate or paint if desired.
  • Mirrored Card or use aluminium foil backed on card.
  • Scissors
  • Three discs the same size as the circumference of your tube: 2 x Transparent, 1 x Semi Transparent 5cms diameter approximately! (you could use baking or tracing paper) Measure your roll first as diameters may differ.
  • Beads and Sequins – semi translucent, sparkly – whatever mix you have available but light needs to pass through them!
  • Black sugar paper or opaque card to make a circle for the view finder end.
  • Tape/Sellotape
  • Ruler
  1. Have fun decorating your roll with paper and glue or paint or pens!
  2. Cut a piece of mirrored card 21.5cm long and 13.5cms wide, score it along the width twice at 4.5cms, tape to together to form the prism.
  3. Insert the mirrored card or foil backed card in to the roll. You will have a gap at one end to add the clear plastic disc.
  4. Add your beads and sequins on top of the clear plastic disc in the roll – you do not want too many and you do not want too little – try out assembling the semi transparent lid on top and see how it looks turning it in your hand as if complete! Attach the semi transparent disc and second clear plastic disc on top to seal the bead end of your Kaleidoscope, you can do this with tape!
  5. Cut a circle of black sugar paper to fit the diameter of the view finding end of your Kaleidoscope and tape or glue in place!
  6. Enjoy pointing your amazing Kaleidoscope up to the sky and turn it in your hand to see all the lovely colours reflected in the prism inside – Awesome!

Version 2 with a Pringles Tin

  • 1x Pringles Tin
  • Craft/PVA Glue
  • Paper or paint to decorate your tube
  • 80g white copy paper or similar to make a 20cms diameter disc – light needs to be able to pass through it.
  • 1x Paper Drinking Straw
  • Mirrored Card or card backed aluminium foil
  • Black Sugar Paper (optional as black marker pen will work too if you want to add to the geometry)
  • Elastic Band/Loom Band
  • Bradawl, Screwdriver or scissors to make a view hole at the sealed tin end.
  • Ruler
  • Sellotape/Tape
  • A4 paper sheet to make a 20cm diameter disc
  • Pens to decorate your disc
  1. Have fun decorating your Pringles Tin
  2. Measure a 25.5cms approximately piece of mirrored card or foil (plus card backing), score the 18cm width twice at 6cm intervals to fold up to make a prism and tape together. Insert the prism in the tin. I put some UHU on the edges of the pyramid to secure it in place.
  3. Make a view hole in the end of the tin.
  4. Decorate your 20cm disc, you could experiment with pattern making and geometry and enjoy making a few to see what works most effectively.
  5. Make a hole in the centre of your disc and attach to the open end of the tube with tape leaving about 4cms hanging over so your disc can fit on the end and be rotated.
  6. Add the loom band or elastic band to the end of the straw to keep the disc in place.
  7. I added black sugar paper parallel lines to the outer surface of my disc, the darker colour works really well in contrast to the brighter colours. You could also use black marker pen.
  8. Enjoy rotating the disc and looking through the view finder at all the awesome patterns and colours!

Version 3

I liked this version also that incorporates a hand made paper disc and a toilet roll tube, handy if you don’t have a kitchen roll or Pringles tin and better for Pre School children to use perhaps due to the smaller scale! They may like to make some pretend Binoculars too! I did think about making a double Kaleidoscope but the results were quite busy! 😁 Perfect for zany young professors however!


  • 1 x Toilet Roll
  • Paper or paint to decorate
  • Craft Glue/PVA glue
  • Mirrored Card or Aluminium Foil plus a card backing
  • Sellotape/Tape
  • Paper Drinking Straw
  • 80g copy paper/white paper for decorating – needs to be semi transparent (hence 80g) to make an 11cm wide disc
  • Pens to decorate your disc
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  1. Decorate your cardboard roll with paint or paper
  2. Measure a 10.5cm length of mirrored card or foil (and card to back), at 3cms intervals score a fold to enable it to be assembled and taped together to form the prism.
  3. Insert the foil pyramid in to the roll.
  4. Have fun decorating your disc – you may like to decorate it on both sides so it looks attractive on the outside and on the inside! It is possible to make a few discs that you can change and you can also enjoy experimenting with, making patterns and seeing how they work, those who want to apply more maths through the geometry of the patterns can do a little further research and explore the symmetry of patterns!
  5. Make a hole in the centre of your disc to fit the paper straw in the middle and attach the straw with tape to the side of your roll near the end so that about 2cms overlaps.
  6. Use your elastic band or loom band to stop your disc from coming off as you turn your disc by hand and enjoy the lovely reflection of the patterns through the view finder!

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