Wave those Stars and Stripes this Fourth!

History of the Flag

There are 50 stars for each state in the Union, and 13 red and white stripes representing the original colonies. The flag was first created in 1777!

Flag Optical Illusion

In honor of our banner this Fourth, let’s create an optical illusion using “negative” colors. To create this “trickery” on your eyes, you will need green, yellow, and black molding clay. It was also a great exercise to create a “normal-colored” flag with the traditional red, white, and blue.

When you stare at the flag with the opposite colors for an extended time, your eyes will register an afterimage upon glancing on a white surface. But more on that later!

Cover cookie sheets or cutting boards in parchment paper. You will need a spot to put your flags. We used a patio table so the clay didn’t stick onto anything and then transferred it over to the parchment.

Flag Day Optical Illusion Clay

Begin by making the stripes of the negative-colored flag. A negative image is a normal image’s total inversion. It’s where light areas appear dark and dark areas appear light.

Red is the first strip on the American flag, so you will want to choose the green for the first stripe.

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion Green and Black Clay

The children will enjoy rolling out the modeling clay.

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion Rolling Clay

Since the negative flag is a total inversion of the normal flag, greens will appear red, black will appear white, and yellows will appear blue. The yellow part of the flag will need some black “stars”, so little balls of black modeling clay should be placed on the yellow. Small motors skills at work!

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion yellow and green clay

The negative flag is all set. Create a traditional American flag for comparison.

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion Negative Flag

Did you know that the white stripes stand for purity and innocence, and the red stripes stands for valor and hardiness? The field of blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion American Flag Clay

Now stare at the center of it for a full 30 seconds.

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion Staring at Flag

Optical Illusion Explanation

After they have stared at the flag, have your child then look at a white wall or surface. Your child will clearly see an image of a red, white, and blue American flag. What they see is a phenomenon called an “afterimage”.  An afterimage continues to appear in one’s vision after the exposure of the original image is no longer there.

When you stare at the flag, your eyes get tired and begin to stop responding to the colors they see. So when you stop looking at the negative colors, and look away to a white surface, the image is seemingly burned into your eyes. Afterimages occur because the activity in the retina continues even when the original stimulus is no longer present.

You children will be in disbelief that they are able to see the correct flag on the wall without the actual flag being there!

DIY Flag Day Optical Illusion American Flag

Happy Fourth