How to Make a Nature Kaleidoscope with Kids

With the solar eclipse coming up next week, the kids and I have been doing a few sun and light related nature crafts and projects. We’ve been talking about where light comes from, what happens when light passes through items and what makes shadows. We’ve experimented with sun paper, made a sundial, pressed wildflowers for suncatchers, made sun tea and traced shadows (posts coming soon (hopefully) on these projects). We also had the chance to make our own nature kaleidoscope. This got the kids thinking about which items they could find in nature or around the house to put in the kaleidoscope and had them guessing about whether light would pass through them or not.

Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids

Nature kaleidoscope kit

For his fifth birthday this year, my son received this Nature Kaleidoscope Kit (affiliate link), which we had so much fun putting together. The kit costs around $14 and comes with everything you need to make the kaleidoscope, decorate it and experiment with it. The three mirrored pieces are sturdy and fit together easily. Just peel the plastic coating off (to prevent scratches) and use a piece of tape to keep them together in the triangle shape. Insert the eyepiece in one end of the tube, then the mirrors, and finally add the plastic container with your nature objects at the other end. The instructions were super easy to follow and Mac assembled the whole thing by himself.

Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kidsMaking a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids

Items to put in a kaleidoscope

The kit comes with a variety of natural objects included that can be used as the basis for the kaleidoscope: dried flowers, polished gemstones and glass marbles.  Pop the container at the end out, open and refill with whatever objects want to try. Go on a scouting adventure around your house, park or backyard and collect items to try out in your kaleidoscope. A few ideas we came up with:

  • flower petals
  • colored sand
  • dried leaves
  • pebbles
  • shells
  • blades of grass
  • beads
  • tissue paper
  • marbles
  • water beads
  • hole punched construction paper
  • confetti
  • glitter
  • sprinkles
  • gummy bears

Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kidsMaking a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kidsMaking a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids

The results

Our kaleidoscope made some really pretty patterns and it was really fun coming up with ideas for objects we would experiment with. I liked the effect of the marbles the best and Mac loved the sprinkles (probably because I let him eat them after we were finished). The colored sand was a bit too thick and the shells didn’t really work. The water beads were very cool, as were the dried flowers and the colored petals.

Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids Make a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kidsHow to Make a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids

DIY kaleidoscope

If you want to make your own DIY kaleidoscope, there are tons of tutorials out there about making one from items you have around the house, like a paper towel tube, washi tape and reflective scrapbooking paper. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy to impress kids. Here’s a super cute tutorial from Welcome to the Mouse House. We’ve got links to this craft, plus a million more on the Run Wild My Child Pinterest page (are you following us yet?!).

Making a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kidsMaking a DIY Nature Kaleidoscope with kids

Have you ever made a kaleidoscope?