Masterpiece Creations: Thaumatropes

I don’t want to give away any surprises, but there is an exciting book in your future called The Right Word. What’s it about? You guessed it: words! It’s all about words, big words, small words, fun words. I have a word for you right now… thaumatrope. Do you know what that word means? It’s the name of a popular toy that was invented almost two hundred years ago. Thaumatropes are lots of fun because they create illusions. We talked about illusions in this month’s Masterpiece Conversations HERE. Thaumatropes are really easy to make and you can create so many fun illusions with them.


Here’s how they work… An artist draws a picture on one side of a piece of paper; on the other side they draw other parts of the picture. If you spin the paper around fast enough, it will trick your eyes into thinking you are seeing just one complete picture. How much fun is that?


Here is step by step instructions for making a thaumatrope:

1st Find a piece of cardstock or thin cardboard (it’s important that it’s the same color on both sides).

2nd Cut out a circle (big circles are hard to spin and small ones are hard to draw on; try tracing the bottom of a cup).

3rd Draw a simple subject (no need to be fancy) in the middle of one side of the cardstock (I drew a bird).

4th Turn it over and draw the rest of the picture on the other side (like a cage big enough to fit around the bird) (It’s important that the pictures are drawn upside down when compared to each other)

5th Cut two holes across from each other on the circle cardstock and attach strings (I use rubber bands)

Now for the Fun! When you twist the strings they should make the card spin. If you can spin it fast enough it should look like the bird is inside the cage. Can you see the illusion?

Think about what other picture illusions you could create on a thaumatrope. You could try a cat and mouse, or a fish and its bowl, maybe a monkey hanging from a tree or on one side draw a dog and on the other side draw her spots. See how much fun you can have coming up with your own.

For additional activities and resources be sure to check out our TPT store!

Click HERE

Have fun!


Kevin Bartle

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