Making a spinning toy is a fun way to review the miracle of Jesus’ Resurrection. This spinning toy is called a thaumatrope. Thaumotropes were very popular during the Victorian era. The cardboard disk is spun by twirling strings attached to both sides. During the spin, the images of Jesus and a tomb blend together. So cool as Jesus miraculously appears to rise from the tomb. Thaumatropes are recognized as precursors to cinematography and animation.
The activity requires minimal supplies and is engaging for any age. If you are looking for an alternative activity for a VBS Imagination Station (day 4 usually focuses on Jesus’ Resurrection), this is the one to use! To extend the activity to a full hour, print more thaumotrope templates that can be found on-line.
So, does the spinning toy really work?
Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve made thaumotropes at science summer camps for many years. Kids will need to practice their spin technique but after a few tries they usually get the hang of it. They have fun not only watching theirs spin but also those of their friends. So reserve at 30 to 40 min for this activity. And the kids get a kick out of watching it spin in a mirror, too.
- “Jesus is Risen” thaumotrope template printed on cardstock (template gives you the option to print in color or in B & W)
- paper hole punch
- colored pencils
- string, 2 ft. per student
The thaumatrope relies on persistence of vision to create an illusion by blending two images drawn into one. The brain has trouble keeping up with the speed of the rotating card, so it blends the two images. The eye retains an image for roughly 1/20 of a second after the object is gone.