How to Make a Kaleidoscope

Two Methods:Easy KaleidoscopeWorld View Kaleidoscope

Ever looked through a kaleidoscope? It's beautiful, isn't it? The sunlight bounces off the colored beads and glass and is reflected in the mirrors to create beautiful patterns which you can see when you look inside. If you'd like to make your own kaleidoscope, there are two options - one easy, one involving a little more skill - outlined below.

Method 1
Easy Kaleidoscope

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    Draw an eight-by-four inch rectangle on a clear plastic report cover. Cut it out, using scissors. Draw three horizontal lines across the rectangle, splitting it into three 1 14 inch (3.2 cm) pieces and one 14 inch (0.6 cm) piece.[1]
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    Fold the plastic along the lines to form a triangular shape. The quarter-inch strip should stay on the outside. Tape the strip along the edge so the triangle hold its shape.[1]
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    Cut a paper towel roll down to 8 inches, the same size as your triangle. Slide the plastic triangle into the paper towel roll. Turn the paper towel tube on one end and trace a circle around it on a piece of black construction paper. Cut out the circle and tape it around one end of the cardboard tube. Poke a hole through the center of the circle using a scissors or a sharp pencil.[1]
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    Cut out a four-inch square of plastic wrap. Place the square of plastic wrap over the other end of the tube. Use your fingers to poke it down into the plastic triangle, until it forms a little pouch.[1]
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    Fill the pouch with beads, sequins, and confetti. Try to use a variety of colors and shapes. To seal them in, place a four-inch square of waxed paper over the pouch and around the cardboard tube. Stretch a rubber band over both the waxed paper and the plastic wrap. Make sure it’s on tight so nothing spills out![1]
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    Trim the corners of the squares. This will make the kaleidoscope look neater. You can replace the rubber band with some sticky tape, if you like.
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    Decorate the outside of the cardboard tube with stickers or wrapping paper. Or use colored markers, crayons and glitter pens to draw whatever designs you choose.[1]
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    Hold the tube up to one eye and look through it. The plastic tube inside the kaleidoscope will reflect the confetti, sequins and beads, creating a beautiful multi-colored patterns and designs. Slowly turn the tube so that the pieces move and the patterns change.[1]

Method 2
World View Kaleidoscope

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    Prepare the mirrors. Cut a piece of acrylic mirror into three 7 78 inch (20.0 cm) by 1 18 inch (2.9 cm) rectangles, using an operating table saw with a carbide-tip blade. Use a vacuum to clean any sawdust from the mirrors.[2]
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    Prepare the PVC pipe. Cut a white PVC pipe with a diameter of 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) to a length of 7 78 inches (20.0 cm) using a chop saw with a carbide tip-wood blade. Clean the tube to remove any dirt or debris.[2]
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    Prepare the end cap. Drill a 38 inch (1.0 cm) hole into the center of a 1 12 inch (3.8 cm) PVC socket end cap. Wipe around the hole to remove any debris.[2]
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    Prepare the foam strips. Cut a strip of adhesive-backed foam into pieces about one inch long. You will need three pieces for the kaleidoscope.[2]
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    Prepare the foam rope. Get a piece of foam rope that's half an inch in diameter. Cut it into one inch pieces. You will need three of these for the kaleidoscope.[2]
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    Glue a petri dish to one end of the PVC tube. The petri dish should be 60 mm by 15 mm and should be made out of plastic. Use PVC cement to attach the petri dish to the tube, being careful not to get any cement on the dish.[2]
    • You can either leave the glass clear to create a "world view" kaleidoscope or you can create a colored kaleidoscope by drawing on the inside face of the petri dish using colored permanent markers before you attach it the the PVC tube.[2]
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    Assemble the mirrors. Gather the three mirrors, long sides together and gently fold them into a triangle with the shiny sides facing in. Make sure you have removed any protective film first. Neatly tape the mirrors together using transparent tape, so that the edges of the three mirrors form an equilateral triangle.[2]
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    Attach the foam strips to the mirrors. Remove the adhesive backing from the three pieces of foam and stick one piece on the side of each mirror, approximately one inch from the end.[2]
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    Place the mirrors inside the PVC tube. Gently insert the mirrors, foam end first, into the PVC tube. You may need to squeeze the foam to make it fit. Insert the three pieces of foam rope into the spaces between the mirrors and the tube.[2]
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    Close it up. Place the PVC end cap over the open end of the PVC tube, twist to secure tightly. Your kaleidoscope is now ready, enjoy the view![2]


  • Put bright and shiny beads inside your kaleidoscope, don't use dull colors.


  • Do not look at bright lights with the kaleidoscope, especially a blazing sun, you could damage your eyes.
  • When making the world view kaleidoscope, the machinery needed to prepare the materials should only be operated by someone with experience. Never attempt to operate machinery you don't know how to use.

Things You'll Need

Easy Kaleidoscope

  • Eight inch long cardboard tube.
  • Clear plastic report cover
  • Ruler
  • Pen or marker
  • Four-inch square of black construction paper
  • Four-inch square of plastic wrap
  • Four-inch square of waxed paper
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band
  • Clear tape
  • Decorating materials
  • Colored Paper (optional)

World View Kaleidoscope

  • Acrylic mirror
  • PVC pipe
  • PVC socket end cap
  • Foam rope
  • Adhesive-backed foam strips
  • Plastic petri dish
  • PVC cement
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw
  • Vacuum

Article Info

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Categories: Featured Articles | Glass and Stained Glass Projects