A phenakistoscope is a precursor to a zoetrope. Stand in front of a mirror and spin this disk. Look through the slits to see an animation of a galloping horse in the mirror.


  1. Glue the template onto boxboard using a glue stick or spray adhesive.
  2. Cut out the disk and using a craft knife, cut out the slots.
  3. Push a pushpin through the cross and into the eraser on a pencil.
  4. 1136-s04Hold the phenakistoscope facing a mirror and spin the disk. Look through the slots at the image of the horses reflected in the mirror.


  • Joseph Plateau and Simon von Stampfer invented the phenakistoscope independently in 1832 a couple of years before William George Horner developed the zoetrope.
  • Notice that some parts of the design in the center of the disk rotate clockwise and some rotate counterclockwise. This is because one part of the design is a pattern of 13 repeating shapes and the other is a pattern with 11 shapes. Since there are 12 slots, the patterns are shifted each time you view them through a slot.