What is a kaleidoscope?

Kaleidoscope is a Greek term meaning the displayer of beautiful shapes. Invented about 200 years ago, it was not just a toy, the device also was intended for use by designers and artists, who might be inspired by the beautiful patterns they could create.

Millions of students each year enjoy making their own kaleidoscope as a craft, art or school project.

Kaleidoscope is a tube made of 3 mirrors, facing each other and forming an equilateral triangle on each end. Then colorful objects are placed inside the tube or at one end so that they can be viewed from the other end of the tube forming beautiful pasterns due to the reflections in mirrors.


A Kaleidoscope in Action

Moving the kaleidoscope on an image or simply looking at your surroundings trough the kaleidoscope can reveal unlimited variations of beautiful and inspiring images. Image on the right shows a small area of the computer screen trough the kaleidoscope  described in this project. Alternatively you may place translucent color beads in the objective chamber of your kaleidoscope to see similar patterns while rotating.


What is the cost?

Kaleidoscope kit costs less than $4.99 per student when it is purchased as class pack. With each class pack you will receive a glue gun and sufficient glue sticks that can be shared by all students. Handling glue gun requires adult support or supervision depending on the age group.

Image on the right shows the material in a single pack kaleidoscope kit as well as a completed kaleidoscope.

This kit includes all essential materials needed to complete the number of kaleidoscopes you have ordered. The only additional thing you may add are decorative cover for the mirrors or a decorative cardboard tube to cover everything from the view point to the image chamber. We just used masking tape to cover the back of the mirrors.

Mirrors are made of plastic in order to eliminate the risk of breakage and glass related injuries. Small plastic plates in the kit are used to close both ends of the kaleidoscope. One end is the view point or eye piece. The clear plate in this side provides a smooth and curvy surface. This will protect your face and your eye against the sharp edges of the mirror when you look in the kaleidoscope.

Two clear plates on the other side form a chamber for holding your colorful beads or other objects. You can also try seeds, beans, flowers and insects in this chamber for viewing.


List of materials

  • 3 mirrors per device
  • 4 clear plates per device
  • 2 rubber bands per device
  • 1 glue gun for entire set

Make the kaliedoscope

Place 3 mirrors faced to each other to form a triangular tube as shown in the image on the left. Use rubber bands to hold everything together. Adjust all the edges as needed. Optionally use small drops of hot melt glue on the outside corners to hold mirrors together.

Wrap some paper tape or masking tape on the top and bottom sections so that the mirrors will be more secure and cannot slide off their position.

At this time you can remove the rubber bands and use the same paper tape or masking tape to cover the entire tube as secure as possible.

You need to remove the rubber bands so that the exterior surface of your kaleidoscope will be flat for the final decorating ideas you may have. 

Plug in you glue gun and give it about 5 minutes to warm up. Meanwhile insert the glue sticks and use the orange color trigger button to force them in.

The clear plates in your kit form two pairs. Each pair consists of a small plate and a large plate.

Prepare one of the small plates to be used as the eye piece. Place the plate on a flat surface and let the kaleidoscope stand inside it. Now wait until the glue gun is ready and molten glue can exit by pushing the trigger. 

Make sure the kaleidoscope is centered inside the small plate. Apply some hot melt glue where the mirrors touch the bottom of the plate. Start from one corner and slowly apply the glue by pressing the trigger until you get to the other end.  Repeat that for all 3 sides.

Place an upside-down large plate on a flat surface. Place your kaleidoscope on the back of the plate. Center it and apply hot-melt glue on all 3 sides to secure it. This will be the objective plate where you will place images or colorful beads.


Place some colorful beads or similar particles in a small plate and cover it with the objective plate of your kaleidoscope. This will be your objective chamber.

Look trough the center of the eye piece to see the pasterns. 

Try different colorful pieces in the chamber to get new patterns.

You can use a small piece of tape to hold the objective plates together. With a secured objective chamber you can hold the Kaleidoscope in your hand like a telescope and see more patterns while turning it or moving it to different directions.

To decorate your Kaleidoscope you may cover it with stickers, colorful tapes or build a tube around it. 

Use all your ideas and artistic talents to make your kaleidoscope a master piece. 

In this example we covered the kaleidoscope with some yellow color paper and secured it with red tape.

Buy a kit (Essential Materials)

Single sets and class packs of mirrors, clear plastic plates and glue guns for this project are available at MiniScience.com online store and in ScienceKitStore.com.