The Art of Optical Illusion
What do man-made illusions tell us about patterns in nature?

Let this site impress upon your third-graders the many faces of optical illusion.  Here, they will see visions to confound and surprise their eyes. 

Overall the project draws the students along on the journey to journaling.  Through initially guiding the process, the lessons scaffold the writers into information collection and review.  Later, independent elements grow and prompts recede as the children complete explorations of various topics in concrete areas (e.g., Octopuses, Outer Space, M.C. Escher, and fractals) that integrate alternate subject material.  These topical areas provide choices in the line of investigation that may also motivate and engage the students.

The students will conclude the project by journaling on their particular line(s) of investigation.  The journaling activity will provide straightforward access to the students’ progress over the curriculum, as by then they will have gone through topic webs and Venn diagrams that thoroughly fill in their background on the topic.  In addition there are two online field trips organized to fill in and to refresh the students’ basis of knowledge.


Our world is filled with illusion.  The way that commercials, video games, and even movies get at children comes through the quizzical juxtaposition of illusion.  Sensory illusion bothers the mind and the confusion allows the skilled to plant ideas through the same means that a musical jingle uses in a child’s perception (they are called "earworms"). 

This is why third-grade children ought to know more about optical illusions.  Awareness about perceptory falsehood allows children to adapt in the inimitable way that we know of them.  Then the illusion may amuse but the child can choose from among amusement or disbelief. 

Gaining insight into the ways images can tug at one’s attention may allow for more mature choices down the line.  Specifically,children may choose to not go through their entire life in a state of suspended disbelief as so many adults manage.

Optical Illusion
Optical Perception
Focus Content Area:
English/Language Arts
Grade Level: