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.
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.
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.
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.
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.