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Cartoon Builder: Lesson 2

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Lesson Plan 2: Make a Spinning Thaumatrope


Animation is an illusion that happens when you look at two or more pictures and they seem to blend into one moving image.

A thaumatrope is a piece of paper with two pictures, one on each side. If you have access to paper or note cards, tape and a pencil, a thaumatrope is fun and helpful tool for understanding how pictures appear to become animated.


  1. Index card (cut in half)
  2. Pencil, crayon or marker to draw with
  3. Stick to tape cards on (pencil is OK too)
  4. Tape, glue or something to stick paper to the pencil or stick.


  1. Think of the animation that you want to make. For example, a fish in a bowl or a cat in a tree.
  2. Draw one part of the picture on one half of the card (example: fish) and draw the second part of the picture (example: the fish bowl) on the second half.
  3. Tape the pencil or stick to the back of one card and then tape the second card to the pencil so that the drawings are back-to-back.
  4. Spin the thaumatrope by rolling the pencil between your hands. What do you see?