Thaumatrope or Mini–Movie
What you will make:
Kids will have fun making this spinning toy known as a thaumatrope (or
mini-movie). It appears to magically
create one picture from two and demonstrates one of the visual concepts behind movies.
This project is great for family, classroom or group craft time. It requires
no patterns and uses simple materials.
With a little preparation by the adult or teen leader, this project is easy and fun for groups of children.
Here's what you need:
- White cardstock or index card
- Compass or small lid to trace
- Crayons, markers or colored pencils
- Optional: Awl or small hole punch,
rubber stamps, stamp pad, clip art
This project is rated EASY to do.
How to Make a Thaumatrope (or Mini–Movie)
Read all of the steps before starting.
- Step 1: Project Preparation (Cut Circles)
Depending upon the ages and abilities of the children, pre-cut 1½"
circles from the cardstock—one or more
for each child. Use a compass or small lid to accurately trace the
circle. Use a hole punch if you have one that cuts circles
between 1½" and 2". You can cut squares with a
paper trimmer, but circles work best.
- Step 2: Draw Pictures
On one side of the circle, draw a cloud, and on the other side, draw
a lightning bolt. Color the images with pencils, crayons or markers. Make
the background sky blue.
Other design possibilities for the two images are a bird and a birdcage;
cut flowers and a vase; two words;
an airplane and a runway, or two balloons. Use your imagination to think of two images that,
when combined, will make an interesting new image. Small rubber stamps, pictures cut from
old magazines, and clip art are other sources of images.
Tip: If your images have an up and down
component, they need to be lined up
with one of the images upside-down or the magical illusion won't work properly.
- Step 3: Punch Holes
Use the tip of your scissors (or an awl or eighth-inch hole
punch) to punch two holes on opposite sides of the circle—left and right.
- Step 4: Attach Strings
Cut two lengths of string about 10" long. Thread a piece of
string through one hole and tie the ends together to form a loop. Repeat
for the other hole.
- Step 5: Magical Illusion
Spin the disk by twirling the strings between the thumb and
index finger of each hand. Like magic, the lightning bolt and cloud appear
How does it work?
Your eye holds the image of a thing for a split second after it is gone. So after the cloud disappears,
its image is still in your eye when the lightning bolt appears. You see both images together. Movies work in
much the same way, with one still frame after another being superimposed in your eye to create the illusion of motion.
That's it! Now give your
thaumatrope a spin!
» » Keep up with Aunt Annie's Crafts on Facebook,
RSS feed, or
with our newsletter.
Share this craft project with your friends and family