I still ride the classic and decades-old merry-go-round on the Santa Cruz, Calif., boardwalk every summer I visit the beach town of my childhood memories. I throw my head back, hold on tight and let the world spin and swirl past. All the bright, sparkly edges of the day melt together in a collage of color. I have a visual adventure on my carousel horse.
Kaleidoscopes can provide a similar merry-go-round adventure in "seeing." Here's how you and your kids can made an up-to-date version of the tube of light:
Save a paper towel or mailing tube. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil 1 inch longer than the length of the tube and 1 inch wider than the circumference. Roll loosely, shiny side in. Insert it into the tube, letting it extend on both ends. Carefully unfurl, pressing ends against the outside edges of tube.
Cover the outside of the tube by cutting a sheet of colored Con-Tact adhesive-backed paper or wall-paper the exact length of the tube and 1/2 inch wider than the circumference. Adhere or glue the paper over the outside of the tube, covering the extra foil. Decorate the paper with markers and stickers.
Design a colorful disk by cutting clear Con-Tact paper into two (5-inch-wide) circles. Arrange assorted tiny shapes and shades of tissue paper on the sticky side of one circle. (Or cut a sheet of tissue paper with colorful, small patterns to size and set on the sticky side.) Top with sticky side of other matching circle. Punch a hole through the center.
Cut a 2-inch piece from a flexible plastic straw with the bendable portion in the center. Tape an end portion of the straw to the outside edge of one end of the tube. Poke the other end of the straw through the hole in the disk and bend the straw piece downward. The disk will cover the tube opening and pivot around the flex straw.
Look through the kaleidoscope and give the disk a spin for a merry-go-round of color.
Note: Make sure kids avoid looking directly into the sun when playing with this toy.