King Charles Thaumatrope Printable 1

How cool is this King Charles Thaumatrope Printable? It would be perfect for making in celebration of the coronation or as a topical science and art lesson. I have always been obsessed with thaumatrope’s since I was little and my grandpa used to make them.

Make a Thaumatrope, a victorian optical toy with our King Charles Thaumatrope Printable. Watch as Art and Science collide.
Thaumatrope Printable

What is a Thaumatrope?

The Thaumatrope is a toy that was popular in the 19th century and roughly translated from Greek, the word thaumatrope means “wonder turn.”. It’s origin can be traced back to 1826 when this optical illusion was invested by English physician John Ayrton Paris. This simple toy consists of two images on opposite sides of a card; the images seem to merge when the card is twirled using lengths of string. The thaumatrope is sometimes called the great-grandfather of the modern cartoon.

How Does a Thaumatrope Work?

When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to blend into one due to something called persistence of vision, which is the retention of the first image by the brain long enough to superimpose it on the other, making the two parts of the image appear together.

Even though the two pictures are on different sides of the disk, when you spin them quickly, your brain does not process the two sides as separate images, it merges the visual information together to create one drawing! This is also known as aan Illusion of Motion. A thaumatrope is a very simple form of animation. Where static images are moved so quickly, it gives the illusion of apparent motion in the images. Your eyes (or better put… your brain) see it as one continuous stream of motion. The reason our brains do this is to help us understand movement. When you watch a person walk, you do not see every tiny movement that person makes as they walk. Instead, you see a continuous, smooth motion.

King Charles Thaumatrope

With the upcoming coronation I had the idea of making a thaumatrope of the king on one side and his crown on the other, so that when you spin it he ends up wearing the crown. I made two options, one to spring with string or elastic bands or one that you can spin with a straw (which I find much easier)between the palm of your hands.

Materials and Equipment Required

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I always print my printables directly onto 160 gsm cardstock using my Epson Ecotank Printer rather than regular paper, this way they are a little more durable and the pens do not bleed through to the other side.

  • Cardboard circle
  • Glue – I used a glue stick
  • Hole punch
  • Crayons, markers or pencils
  • Paper straw or skewer
  • String or rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Printer
  • Light Cardstock
  • King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

How to Download this Thaumatrope Printable

These printables are offered for your personal, non-commercial use only. Mass-production of this printable is not permitted, even for non-profit purposes. Please do not upload these King Charles Thaumatrope Printable to other sites – instead, if you want to let people know about these freebies, post a link to this page. Pinning is okay as long as the pin links back to this page. Thanks!

All you need to do is add click on add to cart and they will be added to your shopping cart. When you are finished click on the orange shopping trolley at the top right of your page and follow the instructions on the screen. You will not be charged and the free pdf file will be available for you to download immediately and will also be emailed to your inbox.

How to make a Thaumatrope

Start by printing out the string thaumatrope template (we have a silhouette one and one that you can colour in) in both of the options, so straw or string options. You can print onto a piece of paper or alternately onto light cardstock which means you do not need to strengthen it with additional cardboard.

King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

Tip: String thaumatropes need one picture to be placed upside down for you to see the correct image when it spins.

Colour in as you wish.

Cut out the paper circles and punch with an eighth-inch hole punch as marked on opposite sides of the circle—left and right.

Glue the circles together.

Attach the strings by cutting two lengths of string about 25cm long. Thread a piece of string through one hole and tie the ends together to form a loop. Repeat for the other hole.

King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

Spin the disk by twirling the strings between the thumb and index finger of each hand.

King and Crown Thaumatrope Printable

Alternative Straw Method

Start by printing out the staw thaumatrope template (we have a silhouette one and one that you can colour in). You can print onto a piece of paper or alternately onto light cardstock which means you do not need to strengthen it with additional cardboard.

King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

Cut out the paper circles.

Attach the straw. If you look closely there is a small mark showing the bottom marking where to place the straw.

King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

Glue the card circles together.

Spin the straw in your palms and focus on the spinning circles and the king will be wearing the crown.

King Charles Thaumatrope Printable

Tip: If using a paper straw you can reinforce it with a skewer

Once you understand how the Thaumatrope works, why not try designing your own? If you are stuck for ideas, then try:

  • goldfish and a bowl
  • a bird and cage
  • Catapiller and leaf
  • Spider and web

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