Thaumatropes for Kids to Make

Thaumatropes are a simple craft that kids will enjoy making – and they will be amazed at the visual effects when the spinning pictures merge!Thaumatropes for Kids to Make - a fun old-fashioned craft!


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Have you ever heard of a Thaumatrope? Here’s what Wiki has to say:

thaumatrope is an optical toy that was popular in the 19th century. A disk with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to blend into one due to the persistence of vision.

They are pretty cool – although we made a slightly different version, where the two pictures are attached to a stick, and then rubbed between your hands. It creates the same effect!

I made a classic design in advance to show the girls: a fish on one side and a fishbowl on the other. They were fascinated!

To make the craft, use a cookie cutter or any round template to draw two circles onto card.Thaumatropes for Kids - a fun old-fashioned craft!

Draw two designs, something that forms a picture when blended together. Here are some ideas:

  • Bird and Cage
  • Man and Hat
  • Duck and Pond
  • Flowers and Vase
  • Egg and Bacon
  • Stars and Moon
  • Butterfly and Flower
  • Caterpillar and Leaf
  • Bird and Branch

But you can also do text too, like “I U” on one side, then a heart in the middle of the other side, so that it makes “I (heart) U” when blended. Clear simple designs work best.Thaumatropes for Kids to Make - a fun old-fashioned craft!

Once both designs are finished, use tape or glue to attach them to a wooden dowel (we got ours from Or you could use a straw!Thaumatropes for Kids - a fun old-fashioned craft!

Hold the stick between your hands and rub your hands forwards and backwards – the effect is simple yet amazing!Thaumatropes for Kids to Make - a fun old-fashioned craft!

BTW I literally took hundreds of photos to see if my camera could catch what the eye could see, but I completely failed! Here is the best one – you can *just* see the bird on the branch!Thaumatropes for Kids - a fun old-fashioned craft!

Here are some of the designs that we made!

Thaumatropes for Kids - a fun old-fashioned craft!

To see a thaumatrope in action – see my video on Instagram!

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