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  • Writer's pictureAlaina

Week 5 Craft: Thaumatrope

This week's craft is a thaumatrope - a predecessor of movies and animation. You can pick up materials for this craft at the library, or print the template below and follow the directions to make a thaumatrope at home.

Download PDF • 1.51MB

Materials Needed:

Paper straw

Paper circle


Crayons or markers

Window or art lightbox

A few ideas!


1. Choose the picture you want on your thaumatrope. You can draw your own or pick one from the included pattern. If you want to use one of the patterns, place your circle over the image you want and then hold it against a window so you can trace the image.

2. Make sure to trace the alignment dot before tracing the rest of the picture. Trace the picture on one side of the circle with pencil. Then flip your circle over and trace the back side of your image, making sure the dots align and the pictures line up perfectly.

3. Cut the top of the straw in half. Insert the circle into the cut straw. Make sure the straw lines up exactly with the dot. Tape the circle in place.

4. Spin your thaumatrope between your hands or your fingers.

TIP: If you spin it too fast or too slow, you won’t see the optical illusion. Spin your thaumatrope at different speeds until you can see the image.

How it works: When an image is shown to your eyes, the retina keeps responding for a short time (about 1/30th of a second) after the image itself has gone away. If a new picture appears just before the previous one has faded away, your brain blends the two together.


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