How to make your own kaleidoscope

Created in 1817 by a Scottish inventor, kaleidoscopes are based on the principle of multiple reflections at different angles. The term is derived from ancient Greek meaning observation of beautiful forms. 

While store-bought kaleidoscopes are great, try to make your own and learn a lesson about light and reflecting surfaces at the same time.


  • Pringles can
  • Shiny paper or mirror paper
  • Sequins
  • Glue or tape
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Screwdriver


Empty and wipe out the inside of the Pringles can. Remove the plastic lid, but keep! Using a screwdriver or sharp tool, poke a hole in the center of the metal end of the Pringles canister. The hole should be about ¼ inch in diameter.

Roll up your shiny paper or mirror paper to insert into the inside of the Pringles can, with the shiny side exposed inside the can. Cut as needed to make it fit. Use a piece of tape or glue to adhere it on the inside.

With markers, sequins and glue, decorate the inside of the plastic lid. Let dry completely. If you have multiple plastic lids, you can create different options to use on your kaleidoscope.

Use construction paper, duct tape or whatever you like to decorate the outside of the Pringles canister.

Once dried, place the plastic lid on the top of the canister. Look through the hole and spin the kaleidoscope to see the images change. 

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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