Building a giant kaleidoscope is an easy, quick and inexpensive project that not only delights children of all all ages but also adults. The main attraction is that the large openings at each end allow much greater flexibility in the size and types of objects that can be used to create the kaleidoscopic images. Here's how to make one:
Purchase two cheap back-of-the door mirrors. Walmart sells 1-foot by 4-foot versions for $6.00. Remove the paper backing and gently use a sharp knife to cut away the hot glue used to hold the mirror to the frame. Be careful to avoid prying against the glass or it may crack. Once both mirrors are free, clean them thoroughly and lean their top edges together to form a "V."
Using a 4-foot piece of wood covered with black cloth provides a dark edge that enhances the image and holds the bottoms of the mirrors in place while still allowing them to be moved to create various mirror angles. Use packing tape to hold the top edges together.
Cover one end with a sheet of typing paper and illuminate it with a bright light. Look at the image from the other end and adjust the angle of the mirrors until you see a whole number of equally sized pie segments. I found 45-degrees creates an 8-sided image that works very well. But by all means, experiment to find the angle that creates the image that's most pleasing to you. And that's it!
The typing paper can be illuminated by any number of moving-light projectors to create stunning images that undulate with beautiful patterns. Remove the paper and have children go on a scavenger hunt to find objects to hold up to one end to create fantastic images at the other. One thing I found they all enjoyed was looking into the kaleidoscope to use their own faces to create kaleidoscopic images.
For safety, I recommend covering the exposed end edges of the mirrors with some clear tape. This won't interfere with the image very much and will prevent anyone getting cut if they brush against the sharp glass. To watch a live action version of this page and see this giant kaleidoscope in action, please click on the following YouTube link:
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