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Multicolor binoculars made from cardboard tubes
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Multicolor Binoculars

What you will make:

Have an enjoyable time with your children making binoculars from recycled toilet paper tubes. Wrap the tubes in black construction paper (or paint them black) for an authentic look, or let your imagination loose by decorating the cardboard tubes any way you like! The project includes tips for modifying the craft to make it simpler for younger children.

Your children will have fun peering through the colorful lenses to see a tinted world. With the binoculars hung from a cord around their neck, a world of make-believe play opens up for your child.

Related craft: Use red, blue and yellow cellophane to make a Spy Glass Color Wheel that teaches kids about combining the primary colors.

Here's what you need:
  • Empty toilet paper (bath tissue) tubes
  • Black and colored construction paper
  • Cellophane, one or more colors
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick and white glue (PVA)
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Rubber bands
  • ¼" hole punch
  • Black plastic lacing or cord
  • Optional: Paper cutter, black paint, paintbrush, circle punch, rubber stamps and stamp pad.

» » Basic Craft Box plus toilet paper tubes, cellophane and rubber bands. « «

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Multicolor Binoculars

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Project Preparation

Read through the project, then gather the materials needed for making the binoculars. Each pair of binoculars requires two empty cardboard tubes (4" to 5" long). Have the children collect empty toilet paper tubes—longer tubes work, too , but must be cut to size.

If you are doing the craft with a group, pre-cut the construction paper and cellophane to make the craft go faster. If you plan to paint the tubes black, you can do this in advance or have the kids do it the day before.

Step 2: Cover or Paint Tube

Cover cardboard tubes with black construction paperCut a rectangle from black construction paper to wrap around each tube. Measure the length of the tube, usually 4" to 5", and cut two rectangles that are the measured length by 6".

Apply glue to the black construction paper and wrap it around the tube. Hold the paper in place while the glue dries, or put two or three rubber bands around the tube to hold the paper in place.

Tip: Your binoculars don't have to be black. Use any color of paper you like, or color white paper with your own designs!

Paint empty cardboard tube with black paintAnother option is to paint the cardboard tubes black.

Tip: For younger children, this step can be skipped or let them "dress-up" the binoculars with markers.

Step 3: Cellophane Lens

Cut cellophane for ends of tubesCut two 4" squares of cellophane—the same color is usually best. Round off the corners with your scissors.

Tip: If you don't have cellophane, skip this step. Children will enjoy the binoculars without the colored lenses.

Secure cellopphane with rubber bandPlace a piece of cellophane evenly over one end of the tube. Hold it in place and secure with a rubber band. The children may need help putting the rubber band over the cellophane.

Step 4: End Cap (optional)

Make end cap to cover cellophaneMake an end cap for each tube to help hold the cellophane in place and give the binoculars a neater look. Cut a 1½" by 6" strip of black construction paper for each tube. Wrap the strip around the end of the tube with the cellophane (leave the rubber band on) and glue in place. Hold the strip in place with your hand or a couple of rubber bands until the glue dries.

Tip: Curl the strip to make it easier to wrap around the tube. Hold a round pen or pencil in one hand and put the strip between your thumb and the pen. Use the other hand to draw the strip over the pen.

Step 5: Glue Tubes Together

Glue tubes togetherGlue the two tubes together with white glue (Elmer's / PVA). Run a line of glue down the length of one tube, then press the tubes together. Wrap rubber bands around the tubes to hold them in place until the glue has dried.

Tip: Double-sided tape can be used in place of the white glue.

Step 6: Wrap Tubes and Decorate

Wrap tubes and decorateCut a strip of colored construction paper, 1¼" by 10", to wrap around the binoculars. Wrap the strip around the joined tubes, toward the open ends. Apply glue to hold in place. A paperclip may be used to hold the ends together until the glue dries.

Tip: Decorate the strip any way you like. A single 1" circle that has been stamped with a nature image is a nice addition.

Tip: For younger children, this step can be skipped; however, the strip does increase the sturdiness of the binoculars.

Step 7: Add Neck Strap Attach neck strap(optional)

Use a ¼" hole punch to punch holes on both sides of the binoculars at the open end. Cut a 26" to 30" length of black plastic lacing. Tie the lacing ends to the binoculars through the punched holes.

Peer through binocularsPut the strap over your head and hold the binoculars up to your eyes! Hey, everything turned red!

That's it! Your binoculars are complete!
Multicolor binoculars

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Thanks to...

Thanks to Dawn C. for sharing this craft idea with Aunt Annie's Craft Exchange in 1996.

Dawn stated, "My children really enjoy looking through binoculars. This craft is easy for them and makes for good fun, too. The cost is minimal—that is always a plus!"

Color Wheel Spy Glass

Related project: Use red, blue and yellow cellophane to make a Spy Glass Color Wheel that teaches about combining the primary colors.

Three colors of binoculars

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Tip: Make more than one pair of binoculars, each with a different color of cellophane.

Fancy paper binoculars

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Tip: Don't limit yourself to black construction paper. Use any color of paper to make your unique pair of binoculars.

Son and daughter puppets

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