Bird Thaumatrope

I’ve wanted to try making a thaumatrope spinner for awhile, and when I recently saw these on the Made in Me blog, I had to give it a try. I just finished a bird painting for a commission, so I used it for the design. When spinning, it almost looks like the bird is flapping its wings. The kids were really excited to see the illusion, and the act of spinning it was just as exciting.

If you want to try it out, I made two templates. One like in the photos, and one to color in. Just cut out the circles and find a stick or drinking straw and tape or glue the circles onto the end of the stick. (Use the small gray line at the bottom to line up both sides with the stick.) Then start spinning!

Click on the templates below, then print. (Each template makes two thaumatropes.)


  1. Aline
    January 10, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for sharing!!!
    I am workink on such a project with my pupils. Your thaumatrope spinner is excellent!

  2. rahel
    January 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Oh- I forgot about this game... I will print and play- thanks a lot of the templates!

  3. Dreamy Melrose
    January 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Simple and nice :)

  4. Pancakes For Recess
    January 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Very cool! Thanks, I will definitely give these a go!

  5. I Live in an Antbed
    January 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    That is so much fun!! Thank you for sharing! My kids will adore them.

  6. Linnea
    January 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    This reminds me of my childhood. Beautiful birds too! Thanks for sharing.

  7. modernmaam
    January 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I LOVE that you have them on branches instead of in a cage! I also never knew what to call these things. Thanks! :)

  8. Nicki Mc
    January 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    These are fabulous things. I was caught on vacation with a bored 5 year old and a house full of sleeping adults. They are so simple to make, but create such delight.

    Thanks for the templates, I'm printing them right now.

  9. Steph at
    January 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the templates. I think my little guy will be amazed by this :)

  10. Nettie
    January 11, 2011 at 12:30 am

    These are on deck for this week!! I have freshly purchased dowels to use, too! Thanks!

  11. Will Strong
    January 11, 2011 at 2:35 am

    I love those things. But I don't think I'll ever be able to spell it right.

  12. Julianna
    January 11, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Love it sooo much! Tomorrow's little project! :)

  13. Mutsuko
    January 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Ludique et efficace, c'est génial, comme toujours !

  14. Marisa
    January 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    we're snowed in, my son Desmond is loving this, thanks!

  15. Joel Henriques
    January 12, 2011 at 3:32 am

    Thanks everyone! Yeah, I love this classic toy! I've been picking it up and giving it a spin multiple times a day. ha.

  16. Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids
    January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Lovely and fun too!! Fun on a very snowy day!

  17. Marta
    January 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    How classic and fun! I love it! Thanks! In Spanish we call this 'maravilla giratoria', wonderturner in English, I think.

  18. TinyReader
    January 13, 2011 at 1:57 am

    These are so beautiful!! We're going to makes some tomorrow!!!!

  19. LadyJ
    January 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    All 4 of my little ones had a blast doing this and have been playing with them now for 3 days straight. Thanks :)

  20. Nanah Kamaki
    January 14, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Dear Joel,
    I really enjoyed your work, so I wrote about you in my blog "Mondo Supernova ( It is in Portuguese, because I'm Brazilian! Sorry! (laughter!)
    I received positive comments from friends and particularly, I admire your work.
    Good luck!

  21. Joel Henriques
    January 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks everybody! I'm glad you're all having fun with the birds!

    Nanah Kamaki - Thanks for the very kind post!

  22. AmberCake
    January 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Super Excellent! Just did this with my 3 year old and a friend's toddler. They were a quick hit AND I learned that my kid's scissors skills are way better than I knew. He wanted to do more right away.

    I also love that it's a modern sensibility twist on the traditional bird-in-a-cage. I think I'm going to draw an owl in a tree trunk for him.

    Thanks so much.

  23. natacha
    January 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    je m'en suis servi cet après-midi avec mes élèves ils ont adoré!!

  24. Jo
    February 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    JOEL! Can I re-post your bird thaumatrope on our new blog and real-time making of a new Australian creative arts magazine for kids and artists
    Our first call to artists and kids is for responses to 'bird' or 'first flight' - maybe you are even wonderfully mad enough to think about contributing?!! Just found you through Anorak and will link to you on BIG if you are happy for that. tweet tweet!

  25. Joel Henriques
    February 6, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Thanks everybody!

    Jo- Yes, you can totally post the bird thaumatrope on your blog. I wish I had time to contribute something else, but I'm slammed with work for the next two months.

  26. marta
    February 21, 2011 at 2:44 am

    you put the 'cool' in arts and crafts. am super excited to land into your artistic space. am always hunting out good new ways to play with my toddler. thank you! will be subscribing.

    happy president's day.

  27. miss amomynous
    March 18, 2011 at 1:59 am

    i happened across your blog today, and i LOVE every idea you have! i have a small daycare, and two small children of my own and we'll be replicating many of these ideas! i also wrote about your blog and this post today in my blog! =)
    thanks for the inspiration!

  28. August 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    [...] example here. I find the Bird Thaumatrope designed by Joel M quite beautiful. It can be downloaded here for printing out, cutting out and gluing onto a stick. Of course I’m very excited by what the [...]

  29. August 12, 2011 at 7:56 am

    [...] drawings are based on a template sheet that I made. This uses a branch on one side, inspired by Joel M.’s thaumatrope discussed here in an earlier post. The children were asked to draw a winged creature on the other [...]

  30. February 23, 2012 at 4:00 am

    [...] [...]

  31. April 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    [...] [...]

  32. April 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    [...] inventarse el dibujo. Os pongo este enlace a wikisaber donde hay diversos modelos y la página de Made in Joel. Podemos dibujar, por [...]

  33. May 11, 2012 at 8:22 am

    [...] så här ser de ut när man snurrar dem! Vill ni se mer? Vi inspirerades av Made by Joel och My little [...]

  34. June 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    [...] простой забавы я вычитала у известного американского папы-блогера-умельца Джоэла, который даже выступал недавно на шоу Марты Стюарт. А [...]

  35. November 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    […] it looks like the bird is actually inside the cage. For our thaumatropes, we used the image of a bird and an image of a branch on Made by Joel. We also used a drinking straw to spin between the two images versus using a string or rubber band […]

Leave a Comment