Virtual Playdates With A Purpose: Encourage Little Explorers With DIY Binoculars For Kids

by Stephanie Kaloi

If there is one thing you can say about children, it’s that they have an endless supply of energy and curiosity.

While this can sometimes be a little tiring for their parents and caregivers, it means that their heart, imagination, and spirit are almost always open to new experiences and lots of exploration. Creating and crafting are activities that naturally align with these traits, and that’s why our newest Virtual Playdate Kit is pretty perfect: DIY binoculars for kids.

Brooke Gariepy, a K-12 teacher, weighed in on this project. It turns out that making binoculars is pretty great for kids:

“When students make their own binoculars, there are definitely some key elements that are necessary to make them actually function. It’s beneficial for kids to know that sometimes there are different pieces that you need to put together in a specific way to create a finished product. Making binoculars is also beneficial for kids who are working on their fine motor skills. They may need to use tape, scissors, or glue, and those tasks really help kids develop fine motor skills.”

Why Make Binoculars?

diy binoculars

Obviously, these aren’t real binoculars that you would use for bird-watching or to see the sky, but they are ideal for pretending that you are doing those things. Pretending is actually a powerful bit of work for children to undertake, and there are so many benefits to encouraging your children to take uninterrupted time to make belief.

Pentagon, a UK-based play company, explains, “When a child engages in pretend or imaginative play, by pretending to be different characters or by controlling objects in their own way and observing the result, they are essentially experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. It’s about learning who they are as individuals and how they fit into the world around them, how the world works and how to walk in somebody else’s shoes. They develop empathy and learn how to co-operate, to become responsible and how to share responsibility.”

With these DIY binoculars, your children will feel empowered to go out and explore all around their home and neighborhood. Who knows what kind of sights they’ll see!

DIY Binoculars: How To Make Your Own

diy binoculars

The best thing about making DIY binoculars is that you don’t need a lot of supplies if you want to keep things simple, but there’s also a lot of wiggle room to make your own set of binoculars super fun and unique. Luckily, all of these supplies are probably in your home already, so you probably won’t need to get anything special.

DIY Binoculars: What You Need

diy binoculars

Before you begin, you’ll need the following:

  • Cardboard toilet paper tubes
  • String (twine, shoestrings, whatever you have)
  • Hot glue and hot-glue gun
  • Decorative touches
  • Optional: Hole punch

How you decorate your binoculars is up to you! You might want to use markers and draw on the toilet paper tubes. You might want to use my favorite, washi tape, and wrap  each tube in a different pattern — or several patterns all at once. You can also glue fabric onto your rolls, cover them in duct tape, or even draw on white paper and glue the drawings on. There are so many options!

Step 1: Clean your toilet paper tubes and attach them.

diy binoculars

First of all, pull off any toilet paper that might still be clinging to the cardboard tubes. Once you’ve done that, spread a line of hot glue down the middle of one of your tubes. Be careful: It’s very hot. Make sure an adult helps if you need them to.

Then attach your tubes together by pressing the other cardboard tube right onto the glue. Hold the tubes in position for 10-15 seconds.

Step 2: Begin decorating.

Step 2: Begin decorating.

If you want your binoculars to look like real binoculars, you can color them black with a marker or pen (or even cover them with black duct tape). You could also paint them black, or even use spray-paint if you have it. If you’ve used paint, make sure to let your binoculars dry before moving on to the next step.

You don’t have to make your binoculars black though. Since you’re making the project, they can be any color (or many colors) that you want. Don’t be afraid to decorate your binoculars the way you want to.

Step 3: Add even more decorations!

Step 3: Add even more decorations!

Once your binoculars are ready, you can add even more decorations! This is where stickers, more paint, and washi tape can all come in. Have fun coming up with your own designs and really personalizing your binoculars so they show off who you are.

Step 4: Attach your string.

Step 4: Attach your string.

Now that your binoculars are decorated the way you want them to be, you’re ready to attach your string. You can do this one of two ways:

  • Use your hole punch to put a hole on the outside of each tube. Then loop the end of your string through one hole, tie a knot, and do the same on the other side.
  • If you don’t have a hole punch, you can also use duct tape or washi tape to simply tape one end of your string to one side of your binoculars, then repeat on the other side.

You're finished!

diy binoculars

That’s it! You’re all done. Now you’re ready to get out and be an explorer. Ask your parents to take you on a walk around the neighborhood so you can use your binoculars, or go set up a spot near a window where you can bird-watch and even see what your neighbors are up to.

For Parents: Games You Can Play With Binoculars

mom and kid playing

Brooke also told us that there are so many games you can play with your kids now that they have their own binoculars!

“There are tons of games and activities that kids can use binoculars for. One that pops into my mind is a ‘popcorn word’ scavenger hunt. Hang words that kids are learning how to spell (me, yes, like, am, too) around the house on note cards and have the kids search for them. You could also play I Spy outside where kids have to look through the binoculars and find things that are certain colors or shapes. ‘Can you find … (rectangles, circles, triangles, spheres, cones, cubes)?’ ties in math! Obviously, looking at nature and animals is the key experience. Ask kids, ‘What can you see through the binoculars that you may not have been able to see before?’ If they’re older, you can learn together about how binoculars work. Students can use their sense of sight to describe what they are seeing.”

For Parents: Questions To Ask

diy binoculars

We always want to make sure we leave you with ideas for questions to ask your kids so you can take the virtual playdate deeper. Here are a couple:

  • What would happen if we used only one tube instead of two?
  • What do you think the prefix “bi-” means?