10 – 12

Ever heard of a thaumatrope?


Ever heard of a thaumatrope?

What to do with this activity?

More than likely you have never heard of a thaumatrope - we certainly hadn't. Thaumatropes were invented in the early 19th century, and the name comes from two Greek words - "thauma" meaning magic and "trope" which means something that moves. 

So what is a thaumatrope? It's a card with a different picture on each side. When you spin it quickly, the pictures seem to combine. It's a sort of optical illusion that depends on the fact that each picture takes a little while to fade from our mind. Flip book cartoons work in the same way, and even the films and videos we watch, which are shown at around 25 pictures per second. We see the combined pictures, not the separate pictures that make up the film. 

Have a look at some homemade thaumatropes in action here and here. You can see that there are a lot of picture combinations that will work. 

Now you know what a thaumatrope is, why not make one?  Find instructions from "Storm the Castle" for one that spins on rubber bands here, or look here for instructions from "What do we do all day" for one that spins on a stick

  • Why am I doing this?

    Children gain confidence in speaking through demonstrating their knowledge to others. Chatting and listening to your child will help build their communication skills. Talking about words and their meaning in everyday life will also help build your child’s vocabulary – and your own!

  • How can I do more?

    Funny stories are interesting and a good excuse to get your child talking. At mealtimes, each family member could tell something interesting or something funny that happened during the day. Watching TV together can also provide a good opportunity for chat and to discuss what you are watching. Check if your child understands different things they hear and encourage your child to teach you new words and things they have learnt.

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