Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thaumatropes, Oh My!

Today we made Thaumatropes. Very simple to make and lots of fun to design and play with. A thaumatrope is a simple optical illusion toy that was invented in 1826, it is credited with being the first cinematographic device. It is simply a piece of stiff paper with a picture drawn on both sides and attached to a stick or two pieces of string as a means to spin it. Thauma means "magic" trope means "turner" in Greek.

First we traced circles onto heavy card stock, 2 circles for each thaumatrope.
Then everyone drew their own designs. Logan made a country scene, Matthew made a bird on a tree limb, Ethan made a house with a tree beside it. The idea is to draw part of your picture on one side of the paper and the other half on the other side (or piece) of paper, so that when it is spun quickly the two separate pictures merge to appear as one. A classic design is a bird cage on one side with a bird on the other, when spun the bird appears "magically" inside the previously empty cage!
After we had our designs drawn we cut out the circles and glued them together with a small stick (bamboo skewer) placed in between the layers.
Then the fun part! They held the thaumatropes between their palms and spun the quickly back and forth.

"Mom, this is so cool! It really works!"


  1. I love the rafting picture as header, fantastic! I did not know the name of these "thaumatropes", how fun to make a new discovery...with instructions too! Thanks!


  2. Thanks! I loved that header picture as well. Such a sweet moment of childhood to capture! But I am actually just hopping on here to change it for September.


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