Color Kaleidoscopes

Color Kaleidoscopes lesson plan

Build your own kaleidoscope to experiment with visual perception.

  • 1.

    Kaleidoscopes, which are tools of visual perception, work this way: When multiple mirrors are positioned at angles near each other, rays of light are reflected back and forth between mirrors. Experiment with mirrors and Crayola Crayons to see this concept first-hand.

  • 2.

    To make your own kaleidoscope, which uses this scientific principle, use three small, same-sized rectangular mirrors. You can find these mirrors in craft or drug stores. Lay all three mirrors side by side on thin recycled cardboard such as a cereal box. Leave about a finger width between each mirror. Trace around the outside of all of the mirrors with Crayola Colored Pencils. Remove the mirrors. Cut on the outline you drew.

  • 3.

    Fold the cardboard into three equal sections. Tape the mirrors in place, one in each section. Fold the panels, with the mirrors inside, into a triangular kaleidoscope box. Tape the seam closed.

  • 4.

    Remove the paper wrappings from several crayons. Create multi-colored chips by sharpening the crayons. Place crayon shavings in a small zippered plastic bag. Tape the bag over one end of the kaleidoscope.

  • 5.

    Cut a cardboard triangle to make a viewer. Punch a hole in the middle. Tape the triangle over the other end of the kaleidoscope.

  • 6.

    Hold the crayon-chip end of the kaleidoscope up to light. Turn the kaleidoscope while looking into the view hole. The crayon shavings move around due to gravity. The mirrors reflect multiple images of these colorful, moving chips.

  • 7.

    With crayons, draw the repeating patterns of color observed in the kaleidoscope.


  • Children observe reflections by working with mirrors and colorful crayons.
  • Children create kaleidoscopes to demonstrate how an image is multiplied by angled mirrors before light rays reach their eyes.
  • Children experiment with colorful kaleidoscope patterns and use their observations as inspiration for drawing.


  • To demonstrate reflection in its simplest form, stand a crayon between two mirrors standing at right angles. How many crayons do you see?
  • Older students to further explore how light rays are reflected by using more mirrors, and mirrors placed at various angles. At what angle do mirrors no longer reflect an object?