Halloween Thaumatrope – Catch the Ghost

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Time for a fun little paper craft for Halloween! Thaumatropes are a fun optical illusions toy that are quick and easy to make. I have a set of snow globe thaumatropes that you can print out. But today, I show you how to make your own from scratch. You can use the string thaumatrope method or the paper straw/ stick method we are using here today! Work with what you have!

Materials needed to make your own Catch the Ghost Thaumatrope:

  • Scraps of paper
  • A small to medium sized jar lid as a template
  • Paper straw or other round ish stick (e.g. a wooden skewer)
  • Pencil & Pens
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • (One page printable worksheets (ad free too!) available here on Teachers Pay Teachers, I thank you for your support!)

How to make a Thaumatrope from scratch for Halloween

Fold your paper in half and trace the jar lid for your circle.

Cut out both circles.

Think of your design. We chose to make a “Ghost in a Cage” and a “Ghost in a Window” Thaumatrope.

Draw your cage or window FIRST! The ghost always comes later, as you have to make sure it is positioned properly. I like to make the outside of my cage/ window in some sort of colour (orange and grey here) as it makes the optical illusion stand out better.

Once your cage/ window is finished, place the second paper circle on top and carefully draw your ghost WITHIN the lines of your cage and window.

TOP TIP: the photos don’t show this… but you may want to sneak in some “guide dots” – one at the top and one at the bottom on both of your drawings, so when you glue your circles together you know exactly how to align them.

Add glue to the back of one disc.

Flatten the top of your paper straw and aline.

Put the second paper disc on top of the first – make sure your drawings aline before scuring the glue.

Squeeze the paper straw a little more if needed…

Let the glue dry a little.

Then rub the straw between your hands and watch your ghost appear in the cage or window! DONE!

SUCH A FUN and simply science activity for Halloween, exploring optical illusions. Once you have made one, you can let your imagination run wild and create many more Halloween thaumatrope designs!

Check out more wonderful Paper Halloween Crafts here:

Learn more about the history of thaumatropes here.

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