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Homemade Kaleidoscope

This is a fun, inexpensive alternative to store bought kaleidoscopes.  Its also a great tool for teaching about light.


8 inch square piece of thick, black cardboard (could use good quality black poster board)
8 inch square piece of aluminum
clear plastic wrap (such as Suran Wrap)
clear or see-through balloon


1. Fold the cardboard (or poster board) in half once and then again to make a long rectangle.
2. Unfold the cardboard to show four sections.
3. Place the aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing you, on the cardboard.
4. Fold back one edged of the foil so that one section of the folded cardboard is showing.  Cut off this end piece of the foil along the fold.
5. Glue the larger piece of foil to the cardboard.  One section of the cardboard should still be showing.  Remember, the shiny side of the aluminum foil should be the one visible.  This forms a mirror-like surface.
6. Fold the cardboard, with the foil inside, to make a triangle-shaped tube.  The section of the cardboard with no foil should NOT show on the inside of the tube.  Tape this cardboard section down.
7. Cover both ends of the tube with the plastic wrap.
8. Tape the wrap to the outside of the tube.  Be sure it is pulled tight.
9. Pour the glitter into the clear balloon.
10. But the thin mouthpiece off of the balloon (where you blow into).
11. Slide the opening of the balloon over one end of the tube.  The balloon should be flat and tight against the end of the tube.  And the glitter should be against the plastic wrap.
12. Tape the balloon to the tube.
13. Hold the kaleidoscope up to a window or other source of light and turn it to see the patterns it makes.

The colored glitter should make fancy patters in the end of the kaleidoscope.  By varying the color of glitter, using multi-colored glitter, or by using the reflective party confetti you can get different effects.  Have fun!


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