Delight the senses with this super easy Valentines toy for kids. My son loved this simple STEAM project and that’s saying quite a bit since he usually doesn’t like anything with drawing. When I showed him my sample Valentine’s thaumatrope he was pretty interested in how the two sides seemed to blend together when he spun the straw in his hands. We love do-able Valentine crafts!

How To Make A Thaumatrope For Valentine’s Day


It is thought the thaumatrope was invented in the early 1800’s as a popular optical toy.  It has a disc with different pictures on each side which appear to blend into one when spun.  Thanks to something called the persistence of vision.

Our Christmas thaumatrope below is a fun way for kids to explore simple optical illusions.  To give the illusion of the images blending, you need a picture that comes in two parts.  A classic thaumatrope is a bird and a cage.

For another optical illusion, try Newton’s Color Spinner

If you can get your two images to blend, you have made a thaumatrope! It’s a fun craft and STEAM activity to try with kids of all ages.


Valentine’s Thaumatrope


  • White paper (computer, cardstock)
  • Paper or plastic straws
  • Stickers (might be fun)
  • Sharpies (or markers)
  • Tape, scissors
Making simple Valentines thaumatropes STEAM activity

How To Make Your Valentines Toy

STEP 1: I used a large plastic party cup, roughly 4″ in diameter to trace two circles onto my paper.

STEP 2: Cut out circles.

STEP 3: Choose an image that can be drawn in two parts. To give the illusion of the images blending together, you have to draw to parts. One on one circle and one on the other. Our first one was a heart in the hand because my son loves the kissing hand.

Helpful Hint: Draw your first image and then put the blank circle over it to finish the rest of the image. You can see below that I drew a red heart, then I put the blank circle over it and drew the outline and arrow in black. When you spin the toy, the images will blend together nicely.

STEP 4: Attach the straw to the backside of one circle with tape. Make 2 tape balls/rolls and put on either side of the straw. Attach the other circle. You are done!

Make easy Valentines thaumatrope kids STEAM activity

STEP 5: Give your new Valentine toy a spin!

We made a bunch quickly. These are my fun and simple Valentines thaumatropes. You can see below that I made a heart in the hand (a personal favorite). Forgive my drawing skills, but it does show you that anyone can do it!

I also made a couple versions of the girl thaumatrope. The first had the eyes and hair on one circle with the nose and mouth on the other. My second one had the eyes and nose on one circle a mouth and hair on the other.

Valentines Thaumatropes ideas

Here’s my other heart and arrow Valentine’s thaumatrope. We also tried one with writing. I put the words I and You in one circle and the word Love on the other, taking care to match them up. It worked!

Plus, I made some swirly patterns and designs on other thaumatropes. It was so easy; it was hard to stop making new ones. I have some other fun designs to share at another time with my sons!

Valentines thaumatropes paper Spinner Toys

This is such a quick activity that can be done anytime with any theme! Experiment with colors and ideas!


Create Simple and Fun Valentines Thaumatropes