Kaleidoscopes are to little kids what black light posters are to stoned college students — they can zone out on the things for hours. You could try and unpack the neuroscience behind why this is, or you could just stock up on kaleidoscopes to help you get through the crush of indoor free time that the winter brings. This DIY kaleidoscope is doable with stuff that’s probably already in your recycling bin, but for about $30 bucks you can stock up on enough arts-and-crafts material to churn out a new kaleidoscope every Saturday until the ground unfreezes…
- 1 paper towel roll
- 8.5 x 11″ mirror board
- See-through colored beads
- 1 clear plastic sheet
- 1 translucent plastic sheet
- Scrap cardboard
- X-acto knife
- Cut the mirror board into 3 1.5″-wide strips. Trim them to 10.5″ in length. Tape the 3 strips into a triangular prism, with the shinier surface facing inward. Push the triangle into the cardboard tube, so it’s flush on one end and there’s a .5″ space on the other.
- Cut the clear plastic sheet into a disc 1.5″ in diameter. Place the disc over the prism at the end of the tube with space and secure with tape. Fill the space between the clear plastic disc and the end of the tube with the colored beads, leaving enough room for them to move around when shaken.
- Cut the translucent plastic into a disc 1.5″ in diameter. Secure to the end of the tube with glue gun.
- Cut the cardboard scrap into a disc 1.5″ in diameter. Using the x-acto knife, cut an eyehole roughly the size of a dime. Tape this to the opposite end of the cardboard tube.
- Put the tube to your kid’s face, point them at light source and watch as their little minds get blown.
- Clear plastic can be sourced from food containers.
- Translucent plastic can be sourced from a milk jug, or created by gluing wax paper to clear plastic.
- Mirror board can be made by gluing aluminum foil to cardboard (but keep it as free from wrinkles as possible).
- Colored beads can be replaced with the clear plastic “lights” in some Lego sets.