DIY Kaleidoscopes for Rainy Days!

I can vividly recall one of my most favourite childhood toys – a kaleidoscope; essentially just a basic tube whose inner galaxy of gaudy gems provided ages of rapt absorption. Fast-forward to today and I can’t think of a better way to keep my own tots mesmerised for a good chunk of mum-respite. Or hoovering. (So it turns out being a kid is way more interesting than we once imagined adulthood to be.) In any case, this super-simple, cheapie tutorial on kaleidoscope-making is actually loads of fun to do with older kiddos, and littlies will be just as blown away by the final product.

DIY Kaleidoscope

All you need to do is rummage through your recycling bin for the majority of the supplies, and get constructing!


  • 1 paper towel roll
  • 8.5 x 11″ mirror board (mirror board can also be made by gluing aluminium foil to cardboard (but keep it as smooth as possible).
  • See-through coloured beads
  • 1 clear plastic sheet
  • 1 translucent plastic sheet (this can also be sourced from a plastic milk bottle, or created by gluing wax paper to clear plastic).
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Tools
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Tape
  • Glue-gunSign u


  1. Cut the mirror board into 3 1.5″ wide strips, then to 10.5″ in length. Tape the 3 strips into a triangular prism, with the shinier surface facing inward. Push the triangle into the cardboard tube, so it’s flush on one end and there’s a .5″ space on the other.
  2. Cut the clear plastic sheet into a disc 1.5″ in diameter. Place disc over the prism at the end of the tube with space and secure with tape. Fill the space between the clear plastic disc and the end of the tube with a mix of coloured beads, leaving enough room for them to move around – but not too much – when shaken.
    TIP: If you’ve got the time, try making a selection of tubes experimenting with different bead combinations.
  3. Cut the translucent plastic into a disc 1.5″ in diameter, and secure to the tube’s end with the glue gun.
  4. Cut the cardboard scrap into a disc 1.5″ in diameter. Then, cut an eyehole roughly the size of a dime using the x-acto knife. Tape this to the opposite end of the cardboard tube.
    TIP: You can make the eyehole larger for younger children who tend to struggle focusing on the right point inside a traditional kaleidoscope.
  5. Finally, put the tube to your tot’s face, point them at light source and remember what unadulterated wonder looks like.