Introduction: Quick, Cheap and Easy Kaleidoscope

About: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.

In this instructable, you'll learn how to take a stacking crisps tube and turn it into a dazzling light spectacular!! A big hit with the Foundation kids at my school :)

Check out the video below for a step by step guide which follows this Instructable!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For this project, take a trip to your recycling bag first!

You'll need:

  • A stacking crisps tube
  • 2 stacking crisp tube lids
  • A handful of transparent coloured sweet wrappers (or a set of coloured Sharpies)

From the craft store, you'll need:

  • An A4 sheet of mirror card (or shiny silver card)

Finally, some coloured card/paper/spray paints to decorate the outside of your kaleidoscope.

Step 2: Remove the Metal End of Your Tube

First, use a sharp knife to remove the end of the stacking crisps tube.

Alternatively, if you have a drill and a metal bit, you can drill a 10mm hole in the end to peek through later!

Step 3: Cut the Mirror Panels

Next, take your piece of mirror card.

Usefully, the A4 card is the same width as the length of the tube - result!

Using a pencil and ruler, lay the card out so it's landscape (see pic) and mark every 6.2cm.

Draw lines across the width of the card and cut with scissors.

Fit your mirror panels into the tube (shiny side inwards) to make sure they fit nice and snugly.

Add a blob of bluetack to hold them in place at either end.

Step 4: Add Kaleidoscopic Colours!

For this step, you've got a number of options!

  1. Use coloured Sharpies/permanent markers to colour shapes and patterns on one plastic crisp tube lid.
  2. Glue and stick pieces of coloured transparent sweet wrappers onto the tube lid.
  3. Glue dried flower petals onto the crisp tube lid.
  4. Press ink onto the tip of a finger and 'fingerprint' patterns on the cap

Allow time to dry and fit the cap on the end of the tube.

Hold it up to the light and give the lid a twist to see the pretty patterns!

Step 5: Decorate Your Kaleidoscope!

Finally, decide on how you want your kaleidoscope to look from the outside!

You could decorate it with coloured card/paper.

Wrapping paper makes great decorative paper just using a tacky glue stick to hold it in place.

Alternatively, you could spray paint the tube a base colour and cut shapes out of a kitchen roll inner and spray a second colour over the top!

Take your other end cap and place it over the other end. Mark a triangle around where the mirrors are and use dark paper or a dark coloured marker to colour in the space around the mirrors.

Once it's all dry, put it all back together and you're done!

Step 6: Kaleidoscope Time!

Congratulations, your kaleidoscope is complete!

With a minimum or cost and a lot of fun, you've kept your kids entertained for a good hour or 2 :)

Teachers, why not link this into your kids learning on light, transparent/translucent/opaque, mirrors and tessalating shapes?

Thanks very much for checking out the instructable and don't forget to post pictures of your own kaleidoscopes using the 'I made it!' button below!