Making a thaumatrope (literally “a turning marvel”) is easy to set up, virtually mess-free, and uses just a few basic art supplies. A popular Victorian toy, a thaumatrope is one of the simplest forms of animation: a toy made up of a disk with different designs on either side, which, when twirled, appear to blend into a single image. My 7 and 9 year old daughters made a bunch of these – they tried all different combinations, and they stayed busy for almost an hour.
Cup or bowl about 3 inches in diameter (to trace)
White paper, pencils and markers
Scissors, tape and glue (rubber cement or glue stick)
Chopsticks (or any wooden dowel)
Any age child can make these with a little grown-up. Children 6 and older can make them on their own.
5-10 minutes for each Thaumatrope
Using the cup, trace circles – in pairs – onto plain white paper or cardstock.
Now, imagine a simple picture and cut it in half in your mind. Draw one part on one circle and the other part on the other circle. Draw them so that if you lay the circles on top of each other, they make one, complete picture.
Use markers to fill them in; strong colors work best!
Cut out both circles, and tape the chopstick to the back of one, making sure it points down from the bottom of the picture. Now glue the other circle on top.
Press firmly so they stick together well. Rubber cement is the best choice when working with paper – brush both pieces of paper with a thin, thin layer and let dry—then attach them. Glue sticks are also easy and work fine.
Give it a spin! Hold the chopstick between your palms and rub them back and forth very fast. The two images become one!
Prep for next week’s Curious Jane project:
Any type of cardboard tubes
Cereal or cracker box and / or a large cardboard box
Clear packing tape (a must)
Colored tapes (fun but not essential; found at hardware stores)
Curious Jane, founded by contributor Samantha Razook Murphy, offers project-based after-school programs and summer camps, revolving around creativity in the arts and sciences.