Nativity Thaumatrope - Optical Illusion Toy for Kids to Make

Here's another fun creative way to explore the Christmas Story with a simple homemade toy! This printable Nativity Thaumatrope features the Christmas Stable on one side & Baby Jesus in a manger on the other. Perfect to explore during Advent when we're waiting for the arrival of Jesus.

These spinning paper toys are an easy craft for children to make independently, & they'll love creating their own design & discovering how they can 'magically' add baby Jesus to the stable. 

How to Make a Nativity Thaumatrope

You'll need:

Our free Nativity Thaumatrope Printable  (for best results print on white cardstock)

Colouring pens/pencils

Scissors, glue stick

A paper straw 

To make:

:: Start by colouring in your spinner & cutting it out.

:: Fold along the dotted line so you have the square designs on either side.

:: Flatten one end of a paper straw (be careful not to bend it) 

:: Add glue to the back of the squares & add your paper straw to the bottom of the design, making sure it's in the middle.


:: Spread a little glue over the paper straw & then fold the squares together to make your Thaumatrope.


To create the illusion, rub the straw between the palms of your hands & Baby Jesus will appear in the stable. 


How does the illusion work? Thaumatropes are similar to the illustrations used to create cartoons, when motion is added to the still images our brains see them as a seamlessly moving together.  Discover what happens when you rotate the straw faster or slower, what do you notice? What happens when you blink fast as you watch the thaumatrope spin? 

If you're looking for more STEM Christmas activities, you might like our Stable STEM Challenge, or our Rocking Baby Jesus Crib.