I thought the small boy might like a kaleidoscope.  It turns out that I was wrong...

Whilst he was otherwise occupied, I figured out what we needed, and did all the things that needed sharp objects so it would be toddler-safe to construct.  The pieces I used were:

- An empty tub of stacking crisps (in our case, Aldi ones, but Pringles and anything else similar would also work fine) with a hole in the middle of the base.  It was surprisingly hard to get a hole in it, and I ended up using a hammer and nail, then widening it so it's about 1cm diameter with a knife.  Keep the clear lid as you'll need this too.

- Three strips of stiff cardboard.  These need to form a triangular prism shape that fits snugly inside the tube.  For the Aldi crisp tube these needed to be 21x6cm (I think a Pringles tub is slightly bigger).

- Three strips of sticky-backed mirror.  You could use aluminium foil and glue, but I found some sticky-backed mirror cheaply on eBay and it gives a better reflection.  The mirror comes with a coloured protective film which is fiddly to remove, so I took this off before I showed it to the small boy.

- Enough sellotape to stick the three mirrored rectangles together.

I had the pieces set out on the table, and he seemed keen to make a kaleidoscope, even though he didn't know what it is.  He helped me stick the mirror on the cardboard, and then assemble the three pieces into a triangular prism shape and put it inside the tube.  I then put the original clear lid back on to hold the mirrors inside and showed him how to look inside it to see pretty patterns.  He promptly handed it back to me, told me he didn't want a kaleidoscope and that he wanted some crisps instead.  Argh!  Things didn't improve when I explained that the crisp pack was empty and that he could have a nice healthy snack instead if he was hungry...

Anyway, the kaleidoscope worked quite nicely, although it would be improved if it were to have mirrored acrylic or something that is completely smooth instead.  It would also look nicer if it wasn't an upside down crisp tube, but the boy wasn't impressed by the suggestion that we could decorate it.

Duplo seen through our kaleidoscope

We did return to it a few hours later, and he was a little more interested.  We had a look up at the sky through a tree and watched the pattern change - I took a short video (no sound) below.  He had a look at a few more things through it, and took it apart and put it back together again a couple of times then got bored.  All in all, not a great success, but I'm optimistic we might get it out again another day

Edited to add a picture of the pieces we put together:

Three pieces of cardboard, three pieces of sticky-backed mirror and empty crisp tube with a hole in the base


  1. Just in case anyone reading is planning to try this.. my mum (who works with preschoolers and occasionally also with Pringles tubes) strongly recommends covering them with paper before the children see them, or the disappointment at the lack of crisps frequently disrupts the planned activity (we had this conversation a propos something else, but it seems relevant here - this issue is definitely not a one off..).

    1. If only I'd realised this beforehand! Maybe I should try it again with a covered tube when he's forgotten his disappointment about the lack of crisps this time.


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