Fun at Home - Pirate Thaumatrope

Pirate Thaumatrope

Trick your eyes with these clever pirate thaumatropes!

The Thaumatrope was invented in the 19th century and became a popular children’s toy. It works on the principle of persistence of vision. The human eye and brain can retain a visual impression for up to a thirtieth of a second. If another image replaces the first one in this period of time, it will create the illusion of continuity.

Time to do and skill level:

15 minutes each thaumatrope. Easy – younger children may need some help cutting, punching holes and spinning the thaumatrope.

You will need:

  • A4 printout of Pirate Thaumatropes – download pdf here
  • Coloured pencils or textas
  • Scissors
  • Thin card like a cereal box
  • Glue stick
  • Hole Punch
  • 2 elastic bands per thaumatrope
  • Someone to help work your thaumatrope


Step 1
Colour in the inside pictures on your first thaumatrope – don’t worry about the backgrounds.

Step 2
Cut it out on the outside of the black line.

Trace around one circle of your thaumatrope onto a piece of card and cut the circle out.

Step 4
Stick one side of your thaumatrope to the piece of card with a glue stick.

Step 5
Fold it in half and stick the other side of your thaumatrope onto the back of the card with a glue stick.

Step 6
Ask an adult to help you punch a hole on each side of your thaumatrope.

Step 7
Thread an elastic band through each hole.


Step 8
Loop each band back into itself.


Step 9
Pull tight.


Step 10
Hook the third finger of each hand into each elastic band.


Step 11
Using your thumb and second finger, turn the thaumatrope away from you.


Step 12
Keep turning until the elastic is really tight (about 50 times, depending on the size of your elastic band).If this is too hard, ask someone else to spin it for you.


Step 13
Let the thaumatrope go and stretch each elastic apart a bit.

What can you see??

Step 14
Repeat this process with your other two thaumatropes.

Share pictures of you using your pirate thaumatrope on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #distantdiscoveries

This Fun at Home activity is presented by:

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