X-ray Magic (Thaumatrope Toy)

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Halloween Costumes

Picking out a Halloween costume was pretty simple when I was a kid.  In mid-October the stores would fill a few shelves with costumes in cardboard boxes.  You could see the mask peeking out through the plastic covered lid.  The side of the box had a picture of the entire ensemble.  I always knew exactly who I wanted to be – Spiderman, but my mom always had another idea – homemade costumes.  Lots of kids made their own costumes; mostly ghosts, hobos, and witches.  I was usually a witch.  Witches had powers like superheroes, so I was okay with that.

When my daughter, Alyssa, was little and I would ask her what she wanted to be for Halloween, it was never a costume that could be quickly purchased at a store.  Her ideas were super specific…  “I want to be a Halloween mermaid.”  “I want to be a girl skeleton.”  “I want to be the painting called “The Scream.””  She’d make a drawing of her idea.  Then I’d have to figure out how to make the costume.  Her costumes were always really unique and she liked it that way.  She wanted to be different from everyone else.  So, naturally, my dad would always pretend he was making the exact same costume for himself.  He made the claim every year and she always fell for it and argued that he needed to come up with his own idea.  I can only imagine what my dad would have looked like as a Halloween mermaid or a girl skeleton.

Little Jack never cared what his costume was.  I’d usually buy a costume at the store and change it a bit to make it unique.  But when Jack was five, his  buddy told him he was dressing up as a superhero he’d invented called, Dino Boy.  He said his mom was going to help him make the costume.  Jack loved that idea!  Jack had also created a superhero.  His guy was called, Pickleman.  Pickleman looked like a pickle and dissolved into pickle juice whenever he needed to make a quick getaway.  I tried to imagine my child walking into his kindergarten classroom dressed as a giant pickle in a red cape.  I just couldn’t put him through that humiliation.  Some of the kids in his class were really mean.  I talked him into being his favorite TV superhero, Teen Titans’ Robin.  It was the most difficult costume I ever made.  Green leggings were impossible to find.   I think I found a pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas that had green pants.  Robin wore black high-tops.  I could only find red, but several Sharpie markers later, they were black.  I sewed the black and yellow cape; made the logo and the mask.  I bought black hair gel to give Jack the spiky dark look of Robin’s hair.   Jack felt so cool in that costume.  It was totally worth the effort!

It doesn’t really matter if the costumes are store-bought or homemade, simple or complicated, standard or unique.  It’s always fun to put on a costume and become someone else for a few hours.



This craftivity is inspired by a toy from the 1800s.  It’s called a thaumatrope.  It’s an optical illusion toy.  You make a disc with a picture on each side.  Then attach the disc to a stick and spin it between your palms to see a flicker movie effect.  Click “X-ray Magic” to get the template and instructions for this craft.

Optical Illusion Toy

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