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Construction Paper Kaleidoscope - Project #186

Time: 2-3 Class Periods
Difficulty: Advanced
Cleanup: Soap & Water

12x18" Construction Paper in assorted colors
Darice Plastic Mirror Sheet
Grafix Heavyweight Dura-Lar Clear Film
Extra Strength Glue Sticks
Pen or Pencil
White Glue
Items for Object Chamber: beads, gems, etc.
View Project Video
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Make a real, working kaleidoscope with a few simple materials! This project also has an instructional video available!


  • Step 1
    Pick three colors of 12x18" construction paper. Fold the first color (red in this example) in half to 6x18" and glue together with an extra strength glue stick to make the paper double thick. Repeat this with a second color (blue in this example).
  • Step 2
    Cut the third color (yellow in this example) into pieces: eight 1/2 x 18" strips, five 1 x 18" strips, and one 3x3" square.
  • Step 3
    Completely roll the red sheet around a cardboard tube (we used a 1-1/2" diameter paper towel tube). Mark where the paper stops on the inside edge, then unroll the sheet and continue the mark across the entire sheet. Roll the sheet around the tube again and make sure the edges of the sheet are lined up with each other at the top and bottom. Carefully unroll, then re-roll and use an extra strength glue stick to attach the sheet to itself; don’t glue past the line or the paper will glue to the tube.
  • Step 4
    Repeat step 3 with the blue sheet, but roll it on top of both the red and cardboard tubes. Be sure not to glue past the line. As the glue dries, the rolls stiffen, forming the two tubes of the kaleidoscope. Remove the cardboard tube from the inside of the red tube. Separate the red and blue tubes.
  • Step 5
    Glue a yellow 1x18" strip around the outside of one end of the red tube. Continue gluing the 1" yellow strips on top of each other to build up a thick grip for the inner red tube.
  • Step 6
    Use five 1/2" yellow strips to make the object chamber. Take a strip and wrap it around the cardboard tube to make a ring. Glue the strip to itself (not the tube). Continue wrapping and gluing the 1/2" strips on top of each other until the ring is about 1/8" thick, then slide it off the cardboard tube. Cut the ring with scissors. Slide the ring inside the red tube and mark where it overlaps. Cut off the overlap and glue the ring 1/4" inside the red tube. You can insert the cardboard tube into the opposite side of the red tube to make sure the ring is level.
  • Step 7
    To make the eye piece cap, place the outer blue tube on the 3x3" yellow square and trace the circle. Find the center and use a compass to draw another circle 3/8" outside the first circle. Draw lines between the two circles. Cut out the outer circle and cut the lines to form tabs. Glue the cap to the outer blue tube using the tabs. Glue three yellow 1/2" strips on top of the tabs. Using the center mark, use a sharp pencil to poke an eye hole.
  • Step 8
    To make the mirror insert, trace around the cardboard tube on a piece of scrap paper. Draw an equilateral triangle inside the circle. Using the length of one side of the triangle as the width, cut three strips from the mirror sheet (the strips in this example measure 1-3/16"). To check the length of the mirror, put one mirror strip inside the red tube and slide the blue tube on top; if the blue tube doesn’t close completely trim each strip to fit. Peel off the protective film and tape the three strips together on the backside. Leave a little space between the strips so they can bend into the triangle shape.
  • Step 9
    Using the same circle template, cut two circles out of Heavyweight Dura-Lar Clear Film and peel off the protective film. Put a bead of glue around the edge of one circle and set it glue-side up on top of the mirror insert. Use the mirror insert to push the Dura-Lar circle into the red tube, so that it rests against the yellow insert ring. After glue is dry, fill your object chamber with items such as beads, gems, paperclips and more. Add a bead of glue around the top of the yellow insert ring and attach the second circle of Dura-Lar. Once dry, place the blue tube on top of the red tube and enjoy your kaleidoscope!

Products Used

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