Exploring Optical Illusions with Thaumatropes
Help children recreate a popular toy from the 19th century to learn about optical illusions.
Estimate Cost of Materials
4 – 8
In this Activity Kit, children will have the chance to learn about optical illusions by creating one: the thaumatrope. From being a popular toy in the Victorian era, to being the antecedent of 20th century animation films, the thaumatrope is now a fun toy you can help children create themselves.
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This activity kit will require the following resources:
- Internet access to watch the videos
Secure supplies needed for activity: card stock, thin rubber bands (2 per participant), coloring supplies.
Cut card stock into circles with a 4 inches diameter. Punch a small hole at the two opposite extremities of each circle.
Make a thaumatrope to show before starting the activity (optional).
If showing the videos, ensure there is access to internet.
Practice explaining what a thaumatrope is. Expect questions on why it works the way it does.
Present the thaumatrope and the activity. Provide examples of what they could draw, such as a frog on one side and a lily pad on the other, or a flower and a vase.
Distribute the coloring supplies and give each child a cardstock circle. Have them draw two related pictures, one on each side. If making an horizontal thaumatrope, the image on one side should be upside down compared to the other.
Loop the rubber bands through the holes so that they can be pulled taut from opposite directions.
Twist the rubber bands between your fingers to make the circle spin: the two images should overlap and appear as one.