How to Make Periscopes With Toilet Paper Rolls

Transform empty toilet paper rolls into a cool science craft.
••• changing rolls of toilet paper image by Lena Grönwall from

Periscopes use reflected light to help people look around corners or obstacles while staying concealed. Underwater submarines need periscopes to see ships on the water surface and law enforcement personnel uses periscopes to stay undetected by criminals. Make a simple periscope craft for your children or classroom with just a few household supplies.

    Connect two to three toilet paper tubes with tape so that they make a long tube. Cut the outer edges at a 45-degree angle. Keep in mind that the longer the tube you make, the smaller the image will be. Traditional periscopes in submarines are also equipped with magnifying lenses. Set the long tube aside.

    Cut two other toilet paper rolls at a 45-degree angle.

    Tape the smaller cut toilet paper rolls to the longer tube, connecting the rolls at the 45-degree cuts. When you are finished taping the tube together it should look like the letter “Z.”

    Wedge a small mirror into the top and bottom of the tube at a 45-degree angle. Periscopes need two mirrors, which reflects the image twice and makes it a true image, not a mirror image.

    Hold the periscope up to your eye and look through it. If the mirrors are positioned correctly, you should be able to see things through the tube. Readjust the mirrors as necessary.

    Add structure and stability to the periscope by attaching a wooden dowel along two sides of the tube with tape. Cover the dowels, and decorate the periscope with papers or paint. Boys may want to color the tubes in a sort of camouflage style whereas girls might want a prettier design.

    Things You'll Need

    • Toilet paper rolls
    • Scissors or box knife
    • Masking tape
    • 2 mirrors
    • Paint
    • Paintbrush
    • Embellishments


    • Instead of connecting toilet paper tubes in Step 1, you could also substitute them for a paper towel roll. You could also make the periscope from larger recycled materials such as a tall 1-quart milk carton or cereal box, which tend to be sturdier and easier to handle.


    • Masking tape and packing tape works best on the cardboard toilet paper tubes. Don’t use traditional cellophane tape, it doesn’t hold very well on the cardboard.

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