Kaleidoscope supplies.

Over the past few years I’ve come up with numer­ous ideas for fun projects to do with Johann, but never seemed to have enough time to do them all. Time still goes on, though, and I decided this sum­mer we need to get some of these extra-curricular projects done soon or we’d never get to them.

Completed kaleidoscope.

One of the projects was to make a kalei­do­scope. I saved Pringles and whiskey tube con­tain­ers. We found mir­ror tiles at the hard­ware store and col­or­ful trans­par­ent beads at the craft store. The dec­o­ra­tive paper, plas­tic cover, foam, card­board, tape, and glue we already had at home. The tim­ing was per­fect, too, because we just got to the chap­ter of Johann’s math text that deals with sym­me­try and reg­u­lar shapes. Some of his math home­work required him to use mir­rors on either side of sev­eral wedge-shaped pic­tures of dif­fer­ent pat­terns. He then had to eval­u­ate the image cre­ated and iden­tify how many fold sym­me­try the pic­ture had and whether or not the image had rota­tional sym­me­try as well. To then use those con­cepts to make a kalei­do­scope was a great exam­ple of how math is all around us.

Looking inside the kaleidoscope.

We also love rain­bows. When I was a child, a num­ber of peo­ple wanted to know what my favorite color was, but I couldn’t choose one. I didn’t want to. My response that I loved all the col­ors of the rain­bow didn’t work, so I told them my favorite color was white. I was told that wasn’t a color and I had to choose one. I argued it was a color, because white light has all the col­ors of the rain­bow in it and that’s why I like white. They didn’t get it. You just can’t please some people.

When Johann was about 4 years old, I taught him the col­ors of the rain­bow. He learned ROYGBIV and all about Newton’s exper­i­ments with prisms. We got prisms for him to dupli­cate the exper­i­ments him­self. He ques­tioned the over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of ROYGBP some cur­ricu­lums were using. He found the rea­son­ing that the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion was nec­es­sary because it was too hard for kids to learn ROYGBIV very insulting.

A second picture of the view inside our kaleidoscope.

We have a Polyanna win­dow full of var­i­ous crys­tals that pro­duce rain­bows all over our liv­ing room every after­noon. We even have rain­bow dishes. Instead of buy­ing an entire set of Fiestaware in one color, we bought one place set­ting of each color of the rain­bow. So, nat­u­rally, Johann’s first thought was to make a kalei­do­scope with all the col­ors of the rain­bow. Even with­out the math con­nec­tion as an excuse to make a kalei­do­scope, our house seems to col­lect rain­bow things.

A third picture of the inside of the kaleidoscope.

I designed the kalei­do­scope so that we can sep­a­rate the main sec­tion with the mir­rors from the part with the beads. That way we can make mul­ti­ple ends for the kalei­do­scope and be able to cre­ate more pat­terns with dif­fer­ent col­ors. I always thought kalei­do­scopes were beau­ti­ful, but was frus­trated as a child that once you looked at it the first time, that was it. There was no way to see some­thing new or make dif­fer­ent pat­terns, because you were lim­ited to the pieces of plas­tic or glass that were sealed inside. Now I want to col­lect sea glass for a kalei­do­scope end piece. Johann decided he’d like to put one together that only has shades of blue. We’ll see how many end pieces we make or if we decide to also make another com­plete kalei­do­scope. It could go on for­ever, but at least now I can check this project off the list.