Smartivity Kaleidoscope | Source: Elenco

Play is one of the most powerful ways to learn and building a kaleidoscope is one of the best ways to add some color to STEAM concepts!

A kaleidoscope is a classic toy that uses mirrors and light to create dazzling patterns from the reflection of tiny trinkets hidden inside. Curious minds can peer inside the eyepiece to see mesmerizing shapes falling and dancing in the light. Each pattern exists only once before it tumbles away, never to repeat itself again. The Smartivity Kaleidoscope from Elenco gives kids a peek inside the wonders of this mysterious object as they build one themselves for a truly hands-on experience.

Recommended for kids ages 6 and up, the set includes all the parts needed to build the toy, such as wooden pieces, mirror strips, colorful beads, and more. The step-by-step instructions make it easy to follow along and it took me a little more than an hour to build my kaleidoscope from start to finish. Like all Smartivity products, this eco-friendly kit uses re-engineered, laser-cut wood and recyclable, sustainable materials.


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I thought it was pretty clever how the pieces are held together by rubber bands instead of glue for a mess-free assembly. Younger kids might need some help to maneuver the rubber bands around specific parts using the hook, but it was fun to do and took me back to my Cat’s Cradle days. It’s cool to see the project come together every step of the way, especially if you like learning about how things work. Kids will get a sense of accomplishment for each step that they complete while learning about mirrors, reflection, and color theory.

Source: Elenco

After builders put together the mirror-filled tube and the translucent drum, it’s time for the most exciting step of all: adding the multicolored beads. Hold your eye up to the kaleidoscope, point it toward a light source, and rotate the drum to see the beads reflect off the mirrors to create ever-changing patterns that tumble like a waterfall of shapes and colors. If kids are feeling creative and want to take it a step further, they can even customize their kaleidoscope with their own art supplies. They can add some color to the wooden tube with markers or stickers, or replace the beads with their own treasures to create even more unique patterns.

Related: Etch Glittering Patterns with the Spirograph Scratch & Shimmer

After I built mine, I accidentally dropped it and lost some of the tiny pieces that attached the drum to the tube, but the kit actually includes some extra wooden parts, rubber bands, and beads in case something like that happens. Thoughtful details like that are what make a company like Elenco stand out.

Explore light and color while satisfying curious minds with the Smartivity Kaleidoscope!