Kaleidoscopes come in all shapes and sizes. However, there are four primary parts that all kaleidoscopes share:
· eye piece
· body
· mirror system
· viewing objects
Making a Kaleidoscope
When designing the eye piece, there are three very important items to consider:
· how the eye piece will sit next to the opening and is it safe
· will the scope have a lens to protect the viewer from items in the object chamber from falling out and into the viewer's eye
· If the focal length is less than 7 inches, an optical lens will be needed to help with magnification
Materials that can be used:
Pill bottles:
small-sized for children
Toilet paper and paper towel rolls:
rather flimsy but low in cost
Potato chip cans:
pretty sturdy but takes a lot of reflective space
PVC pipes:
will last forever!
Mailing tubes:
good and sturdy; can find a variety of diameters
Mirrored styrene:
reflects as well as glass; can be cut with heavy scissors or paper cutter
Mirrored acrylic:
good reflection but too big for small kaleidoscopes
Glass mirrors:
heavy but reflects really well
Board covered with foil or silver wrapping paper:
most inexpensive, readily available but  image not clear
End pieces/viewing canisters:-
Transparency film:
for “light source end” rough-up the film with sandpaper; use clear film next to eyehole and “stuff” insert
Clear food plastic containers:
stiffer than transparency film
use translucent glass rather than clear at light source end
Snap caps:
available with pill bottles; makes a good light source end
the smaller the cylinder, the thinner the cardboard: use corrugated for the potato chips can kaleidoscope
Wax paper:
good for light source end but not sturdy, have to use 2-3 layers
Translucent film:
canister allows the changing of “stuff” to view
Small jelly/glitter/lip balm jars:
durable but sometimes too heavy
Condiment cups:
the small cups with lids, less sturdy but can be purchased at low cost
Stuff to view:-                                                                                                        Beads of all kinds, plants, marbles, popcorns, candy, bits of glass, ribbon, foil, bugs, spiders, broken crayons, jewelery, buttons, paper clips, polished rocks, sea shells, feathers, pasta, etc.
The entire scope must be rotated for the colored pieces to tumble into the different designs. To create a kaleidoscope with an end cap that turns while the body remains stationary is a little trickier. This involves a slightly larger piece of tube for the rotating end cap. The material for a kaleidoscope can vary, depending on what you can find and/or afford. The tube can be a cardboard cylinder found around the home. For a kaleidoscope to last your lifetime, use plastic plumbing pipe (PVC). The round clear pieces can be glass, lenses, clear plastic, or clear acetate. The three reflecting surfaces can be mirror glass, glass painted black on one side, or clear vinyl painted black on one side.
Types of Kaleidoscopes
Mirror Systems
Kaleidoscope Images
Interesting trivia
The colored pieces that go into the end chamber can be almost anything translucent. Don't put too many colored pieces in between the spacers! If you use too many, they don't tumble well and they may block out too much light.