Thaumatropes (Thaw-Ma-Tropes) were a popular toy in the nineteenth century. They create an illusion by spinning two images together, which tricks your eye into seeing them as one picture…

What you need
Piece of card
Circular Template (like a glass or cup) to draw around
Pens and pencils
Stick (approx. 20cm long) or paintbrush, pencil or craft straw
Glue or tape

Some ideas: A spider and a web, a house and a mouse, a butterfly and a jar or a goldfish and a bowl.

  1. Draw two circles on your card. These will be the front and back of your thaumatrope.
  2. Cut out your circles.
  3. On the circle that will be the front, draw a small object, like a bird, in the middle. NB It is very important that you make your drawing little and in the centre, or the illusion won’t work.
  4. On the circle that will be the back, draw another, larger object for your smaller object to sit inside. This example is a bird in a cage.
  5. Apply glue to the reverse side of your front circle.
  6. Place the top of the stick in the glue in the middle of the circle, as shown above.
  7. Lay the back circle over the stick and top circle and press down on the glue. Leave to dry.
  8. Your thaumatrope is now ready to test! Hold the end of the stick between your palms and roll it very quickly. Your eyes will be tricked into seeing the bird in the cage.

Craft idea from Art Play by Marion Deuchars published by Laurence King RRP £12.95

Get stuck into printing, painting, drawing and creating with over 50 unique activities designed to house your mini-artist’s curious creations. This fantastic new book from the internationally-bestselling children’s illustrator Marion Deuchars is the perfect platform for creative play, that uses really original activities to get children aged 7+ and parents making.

Wendy McCague


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