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DIY "Binoculars"

Age: 0 to 8 Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: toilet paper tubes, tape, string
Skills: Focus & Self Control, Naturalist, Science

You don't need binoculars to spot beautiful creatures or count birds, but having a tool can help kids feel more "official." Having a tool that helps kids direct where they are looking, so can naturally help kids focus. If you have some, give kids the chance to play around with kid-sized binoculars or make your own using toilet paper tubes! Here's how.

The Guide

  1. Save two cardboard toilet paper tubes (or cut one paper towel tube in half).
  2. Set them side by side and wrap tape around the pair to hold them securely together.
  3. If you want kids to wear them around their necks (i.e. you don't want to hold them), poke or cut a hole in one side of one end of each tube, then tie some string through each hole to create a strap.
  4. Remember, these make things feel more real and can help kids focus. They are also a new tool that could get distracting and some kids may or may not enjoy. using them. Follow your birder's lead!

Why is this activity great for kids?

Kids love tools and props, especially the ones that adults tend to use. Props enhance pretending or make real moments in which kids are part of something, like the Great Backyard Bird Count, feel even more real to kids. Plus, a tool like binoculars, real or cardboard, do literally focus kids' visual frame, helping them to practice how focus on just what they see. And, we know that the ability to focus is critical for all learning!

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