Thaumatrope Illusion

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Design and create an optical illusion toy that makes two pictures appear to become one. This is called a thaumatrope and will allow the learner to investigate the phenomenon of persistence of vision. This activity also can help learners understand how cartoons and movies work. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Index Cards (4”x6”)
  • Markers
  • Drinking Straw
  • Transparent Tape
  • (Optional) – Small Stickers, Confetti, Buttons, Rubber Stamps, etc


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience


  • All rights reserved, St. Louis Science Center,