Make your Own Binocular Frames

In this activity, we will explore using cylinders to create frames for binoculars to serve as viewfinders for when we're out exploring in nature! In photography, a viewfinder is a small window the photographer looks through to see what a photo will look like before they capture it. In this case, creating a viewfinder out of cardboard helps us focus our sights on things individually, giving us the ability to slow down and appreciate moments in nature.

This activity guide is inspired by Let’s Go on a Hike, a story of a little boy and his family taking a hike in the wilderness. During this adventure, he learns to appreciate the beauty of nature and experiencing the great outdoors. Create memories with family and see other forms of life with your own eyes—soak up some sun outside. Be inspired by the world around us and go on a hike!

We’ve added Let’s Go on a Hike to the Chill Zone at Rediscover Center. Find this book during your next visit or watch this read-aloud by Miss Jessica. Written by Katrina Liu; illustrated by Heru Setiawan.

STEP 1 - Gather your Materials

Tools

  • Cardboard Scissors
  • Paper Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hot glue gun and gloves
  • Markers/pens/pencils/something to write with

Many of these tools can be found in our Tinkering Toolkit.

Materials

  • Paperboard tubes (from a roll of paper towels or toilet paper)
  • A small piece of cardboard, the same length as your tubes
  • Colorful paper

STEP 2 - Make the center of your binoculars

Before we put the binoculars together, we'll need something to hold the two viewfinders together.

Fold the small piece of cardboard a few times until it makes a long rolled up piece in the shape of a triangle or rectangle*.

Use tape or the hot glue to attach the sides of your cardboard.

*This 3D shape is called a prism: for example, a triangle stretched out in a straight line makes a triangular prism.

STEP 3 - Space and attach your viewfinders

For binoculars to work, both of your eyes have to be able to see through the viewfinders.

Stand the two paperboard tubes up on their ends, and see if you can stand them far enough apart to let both of your eyes see into the tubes.

Once you have the right spacing, slide your cardboard prism into the middle of the tubes. Now you can use tape or hot glue to attach the tubes to the middle piece.

STEP 4 - Check your binocular vision!

Take a look through your newly constructed binoculars. If you look at something across the room (a potted plant, your cat, a teapot) can you see it clearly with both eyes open? Just your right eye? Just your left eye?

STEP 5 - Decorate!

Pull out the colorful paper, the markers, and the found objects.

You can wrap your binoculars in patterned paper, add eyebrows, glue on buttons, or attach a string to go around your neck!

Just remember to keep the viewfinders clear so you can see what you're looking at.

How do these work?

Now, let's be clear - if you bought binoculars from a store, they would use glass lenses to magnify (make bigger) something far away so you could look at it more closely.

These cardboard binoculars don't magnify anything, but they do let your eyes focus on one thing in particular.

Take a look at the photo of a kitchen below.

There's a lot going on! So many colors and shapes, so many tiny letters and numbers to read.

Now take a look again:

What are you focused on now?

If you said the red teapot, these digital binoculars worked!

Take another look:

Did you even know there was an elephant in the room??

Now pick up your binoculars and take a look outside. If you look up and down your street, in the park, or at the beach, what can you see?

Remember to always STOP and stay in one place if you're looking through your binoculars. When you want to move around, lower the viewfinders and just use the best seeing devices you have - your eyes.

Exploring Further

How can you decorate your binoculars to show off your personality?

What happens if you make them with longer tubes? Bigger or smaller tubes?

Scroll through the carousel on the right to explore more possibilities.

ADULT HELPERS

For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our YouTube library for Tiny Techniques.

RESOURCES

Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources to access our Tiny Techniques videos and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your binoculars, take them out and look at the world! You can also show them off to your friends, telling them about how you made them from recycled materials.  When you use scraps and recycled materials, it means no new plastics or materials were taken from natural resources. Great job! If you want to share a picture on social media, be sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We'd love to see what you made!

Scroll to top