National Park Service: Junior Ranger Online - Make a Thaumatrope

A Thaumatrope or “wonder turner” is an optical illusion based on combining two images with movement.

It was invented in 1826 by the English physician J.A. Paris. Thaumatropes were popular when the Longfellow children were young in the mid-1800s. You can make one with very few supplies in your own home!

STEM Connections

The optical effect is produced by persistence of vision, the retention of the first image by the brain long enough to superimpose it on the other, making the two parts of the image appear together.


Science Topics
Optical Illusions, Physics
K-6, Middle School
Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade
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Thaumatrope template.

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