Create Flip Books with your students to understand Optical Illusions!

When we were teaching the students about the brain this year, one of the things that fascinated them the most was Optical Illusions!  I think all kids love optical illusions.  What exactly is an optical illusion?  All the information that your eyes gather is processed by the brain.  Your eyes processes color, light, and patterns and send that information to your brain which  interprets the information we take in through our eyes.  Sometimes the colors, light and patterns trick our brains into seeing things that may not be real.  Do you like to see animated movies or cartoons?  If so, you are seeing a series of images that create an illusion called apparent motion.  The pictures flashed on the screen move so rapidly that your brain fills in the gaps and actually blends the pictures together giving the illusion of motion.

A fun way to illustrate that concept is to have your students make a flip book.  This is the one I made to use with my students.  Just follow the directions on the sheet and you will see an illusion of a dog moving his head and wagging his tail!  Now this is just the introduction to the concept! Do not tell them why they see the motion before they make the flip books!  It is best to make them and then have the kids brainstorm ideas about why they think their eyes are tricking their brains.  Then explain about the rapid movement making their brain fill in the gaps.  Actually, this also happens every time you blink your eyes!

I like to have my students then create their own flip books.  No art skills are necessary.  They can create stick figures which do jumping jacks,  a bouncing ball, etc.  If they’re really industrious, they can use index cards to create a series of pictures which are then stapled together and flipped like you would flip the pages in a book.  But for young students in the primary grades, just a two page flip book is sufficient.  If you click on the image of the flip book below, it will take you to my Google Docs page where you can download a free copy of the picture and directions.

the friendly dog flip book directions

What are some ideas your kids could use for flip books in your class?

That’s all for today!  Remember to always…  Keep ’em Thinking! 

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