Introduction: Folder Kaleidoscope

About: I've been a teacher/learner/maker of Math since 1994. I am also a Milken National Educator & NYS Master Teacher Emeritus. Lover of family, music, DIYing, and the great outdoors. Life is good! Also please …

I saw a recent post on Twitter about a table-top Kaleidoscope. I looked really simple to use and I decided to make my own. I hope you enjoy making and using your own as much as I do!

Step 1: Gather the Supplies

You will need the following:

  • 1 - hanging file folder
  • 2 - 6"x6" silver coated cardstock squares (I got 12"x12" sheets in the scrapbooking section of the craft store; just cut into 1/4ths)
  • 1 - brass paper fastener
  • ruler, compass, protractor, scissors, craft knife, glue stick, Sharpie, pencil

Step 2: Measuring

Open the folder.

Draw a line segment along the center seam from the top of the folder to the middle. This should be a length of 5 7/8".

From the middle of the center seam, measure to the right 3 1/4" and draw that line segment.

Step 3: Folding - Round 1

Placing your ruler 6" from the right edge of the folder, fold over the right 6" flap of the folder. Use your ruler as a guide for the fold. Crease the fold sharply!

Step 4: Cutting

Open the folder and cut along the segments drawn in Step 2.

Step 5: Folding - Round 2

Place the ruler along the center of the right side of the folder. Using the ruler as a guide, fold the top half of the right side of the folder over the ruler. Work this fold a few times to break the metal hanging bar in half.

Step 6: Folding - Round 3

Stand up the folded panel and rotate into position as shown in the second photo. The folder should maintain an angle.

Then collapse the folder as shown in the third photo.

Step 7: Gluing the "Mirrors"

The 6"x6" square "mirrors" will be a little bigger than the squares of the folder. You may trim the "mirrors" if desired, prior to gluing.

Apply glue stick to each panel of the folder. Then glue the "mirrors" to the folder. After gluing the "mirrors", fold the flap over and smooth from the outside of the folder. This will prevent any smudging on the "mirrors".

Be sure to leave a small gap between the "mirrors"! This will allow for the hinge-action to work better.

Step 8: Angle Preparation

Stand up the "mirrors". Test the hinge. If you broke the metal bar, the hinge should move freely.

Then draw the line segment as shown in the second photo.

Step 9: Measuring and Marking the Angles

Open the foder and lay the folder flat. Position the protractor on the segment drawn in Step 8.

Use your pencil to make marks at 90°, 72°, 60°, 45° and 30°. Also trace the outline of the protractor.

Then use the Sharpie to go over the segment, curve, and angle marks as shown in the fourth photo.

Step 10: Hole Punching

Stand the "mirrors" up. Punch a hole in the top right corner of the "base flap" as shown in the first two photos.

Then position the top right corner of the "base flap" at each angle. Use the pencil to trace circles on the folder, as shown in the third photo.

Then use a craft knife to cut the circles. I opted to just cut cross-hairs in the circles, as shown in the fourth photo.

Step 11: Assembly

Set the mirrors to the desired angle. Secure the angle using the brass paper fastener.

Step 12: PLAY!

Your Folder Kaleidoscope is now ready for use!

In the first two photos, the angle is set at 72°. Notice that the guitar pick is visible 4 times in the mirrors (5 times total including the actual pick). That is because 360°/72° = 5.

In the third and fourth photos, the angle is set at 60°. The artwork is visible 5 times in the mirrors (6 times total including the actual artwork). That is because 360°/60° = 6.

Play with the different angles and with different objects. Also try sliding artwork, photos, or pictures from magazines under the mirrors for a more dynamic effect.

Step 13: Storage

Remove the brass paper fastener, and fold the mirrors flat.

Use the hole from the base flap to punch one final hole in the folder along the center seam. Insert the paper fastener to secure the flaps. This will allow the Folder Kaleidoscope to store flat.

Step 14: Video Demo

Here is a video showing the Folder Kaleidoscope in action! I love that this Folder Kaleidoscope uses really simple materials. I know I plan to have my students make their own. We will use them to explore geometric transformations, symmetry, and to create some beautiful math art.

Suggestions, feedback, and comments are always appreciated!

Thanks for checking this out!

STEM Contest

Participated in the
STEM Contest