How to Make a Zoetrope

A zoetrope works similar to a flip book: if you move many images through a single spot fast enough, it creates the illusion of a single, animated image. Unlike a flip book, though, in which you flip through the pages quickly, a zoetrope rotates the images, which are viewed through a slit. These instructions will show you how to make your own little zoetrope animation.


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    Start with a circular box or lid. This circular box and its lid could make two zoetropes, or you could make a thaumatrope with the other piece.
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    Cut a piece of adhesive tape 3-4cm square (about 1.5-2 inches).
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    Make a hole in the bottom of the box. The size of the hole should be should be a lot bigger than the diameter of your marble. Make sure the hole is centered on the bottom of the box.
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    Stick the tape on the outside, over the hole, and cut radially from the inside.
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    Glue a glass bead from the inside so that it extends beyond the bottom rim of the box. Remove the tape from the bottom surface of the glass bead, as shown. There are various methods, but the idea is to make the box spin like a top.
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    Draw a picture on a paper strip, as you would for a flip book. The paper strip should be the same length as the circumference of the circle (i.e. enough to go around without any gaps or overlapping). Remember, the box will be spinning, so you might want to make the pictures go in a loop (so that the last one is also similar to the first).
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    Cut slits in a black paper strip, as shown. Make them the same distance apart as the pictures. Make the black paper strip smaller than the container.
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    Place the black paper strip around the outside edge of the box.
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    Set the illustrated paper strip on the inside of it, with the illustrations between the slits.
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    To view your animation, look through the slits in the black paper to the pictures on the opposite side, and spin the box on the marble, like a top.


  • You can use a tiny bit of tape to hold the animation strips in place, but try not to unbalance the assembly.
  • If you don't have a marble to hand, a round topped pin pierced through the base of the lid makes a great alternative.
  • If you want, decorate or cover the outside of the box or lid to cover up the name of whatever product came in it. Try a wavy or spiral pattern that will also look interesting when the box spins.
  • You can make many animations for one zoetrope. Just make a new paper strip and draw new pictures. Use the same spacing for the pictures as you used for the slits.
  • The standard of the package depends on an area, so please customize the size.

Things You'll Need

  • A circular paper box, such as a cheese package (With a top and bottom piece)
  • Stiff black paper or card
  • White paper (copy paper)
  • Marble
  • Wide masking tape
  • Marking pen
  • Pair of scissors
  • Retractable knife or craft knife

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