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Color Kaleidoscopes

Build a kaleidoscope to experiment with visual perception.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Kaleidoscopes, which are tools of visual perception, work this way: When multiple mirrors are positioned at angles near each other, rays of light are reflected back and forth between mirrors. Students experiment with mirrors and Crayola Crayons to see this concept first-hand.
    2. To make a kaleidoscope, which uses this scientific principle, use three small, same-sized rectangular mirrors. You can find these mirrors in craft or drug stores. Lay all three mirrors side by side on thin recycled cardboard such as a cereal box. Leave about a finger width between each mirror. Trace around the outside of all of the mirrors with Crayola Colored Pencils. Remove the mirrors. Cut on the outline you drew.
    3. Fold the cardboard into three equal sections. Tape the mirrors in place, one in each section. Fold the panels, with the mirrors inside, into a triangular kaleidoscope box. Tape the seam closed.
    4. Remove the paper wrappings from several crayons. Create multi-colored chips by sharpening the crayons. Place crayon shavings in a small zippered plastic bag. Tape the bag over one end of the kaleidoscope.
    5. Cut a cardboard triangle to make a viewer. Punch a hole in the middle. Tape the triangle over the other end of the kaleidoscope.
    6. Hold the crayon-chip end of the kaleidoscope up to light. Turn the kaleidoscope while looking into the view hole. The crayon shavings move around due to gravity. The mirrors reflect multiple images of these colorful, moving chips.
    7. With crayons, draw the repeating patterns of color observed in the kaleidoscope.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expression their own clearly.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    LA: Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    As a classroom center, create a link to Eye Can Learn located at Offer students class time to learn about perception and practice their skills.

    In small groups or teams of two, students investigate the human eye. Students create a color diagram of the human eye and label each of its parts. A short, original description of the job of each of the eye parts should accompany the diagram. Provide classroom space to display the group diagram(s).

    Students may want to investigate how the brain works with the optic nerves to produce vision. An electronic presentation can be prepared for classmate to view.

    As a classroom center, ask student teams to demonstrate reflection in its simplest form. They do this by standing a crayon between two mirrors standing at right angles. How many crayons are seen? Students compose a response to this question and create a color sketch of their view.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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