Last week I taught a binoculars craft at my son’s preschool, and it was such a hit! Here are tips on how to do this craft project with the preschool set.
You might recognize these paper tube binoculars from when Julie shared them a few months ago. Her girls are way past preschool age, so I thought it might be fun to share how this project went down with two-, three-, and four-year-olds.
This craft is great for preschoolers, because it encourages dramatic and imaginative play. If they’re not sure what to do with them, you can prompt them to look out the window or at each other, and see where it goes. It warmed up my heart to see these babes get so into the toys they made. One little boy told me that he saw a blue wolf and a bear out the window, and the younger kids loved looking at each other saying, “I see you!” So cute!
Binoculars Craft Basic Instructions
Before we get to the tips, here’s the basic binoculars craft:
Materials (per child)
+ 3 toilet paper tubes
+ scissors – Use kid scissors (like these recycled ones!) if you’re going to let the kids do any of the cutting.
+ stapler with staples
+ decorations of your choice – We stuck to markers, but you can paint, add stickers, or even glue on embellishments depending on how much time you have and how much mess you’re up for cleaning.
1. Cut one of the paper tubes vertically up the middle. This is your binoculars’ casing.
2. Pop the other two tubes into the casing. These are your lenses.
3. Staple the lenses to the casing, so they don’t pop out.
Cardboard Binoculars Craft Tips for Preschoolers
Each age group was a bit different, and there was of course some overlap in skills. Younger kids who played a lot with building sets or did crafts frequently at home needed less guidance than older ones who were less crafty in their spare time. Kids have different interests and skills, even at this young age, so use your judgement.
I handled the stapling with all of the groups, and they helped push the stapler down once I had it wedged into the tube. With a one-on-one craft I might have been a little bit more laissez-faire about that, but with seven kids at a time I just didn’t want to deal with staples all over the place when a child inevitably opened up the stapler. Which happened anyway when I turned my back for five seconds.
The school brought the kids in by age group. We started out with the three-year-old class, then worked with the fours. The twos went last, because my son is in the twos class, and we knew that he would have an epic freakout if he saw mommy before I was able to give him a big hug and some attention.
The three year olds needed a bit of supervision with the kid-sized scissors, and some needed me to cut for them. I wanted this to be super fun, so I worked my way around the table and asked each kid what (s)he wanted to do. Some wanted to do the whole thing, some wanted to do it by themselves, and others were fine until they got to the middle of the tube. Cutting a vertical line through a paper tube is actually a little bit tricky once you get to that middle bit, because it’s harder to operate the scissors in a small space.
Most of the four-year-olds could do this craft top to bottom without me putting my hands on it. Except the stapler, because of what I said earlier. Though I’m pretty sure most of them could have handled that too.
Some of the fours saw my finished binoculars and had the whole thing figured out. Some needed a little bit of verbal guidance and help popping the lense tubes into the casing. I’d let kids this age give it a go, and only help if they ask or seem like they’re getting overly frustrated.
The two year old class was last, and I’ll be honest – I was out of steam at this point. I assembled the binoculars completely and just let the kids color them. With this group I easily could have just done the cutting, helped them pop the lenses in, and let them help press the stapler just like the older kids did.
This cardboard binoculars craft was so much fun to make with young kids! Some of them asked if they could take extra tubes home to make more with their parents. We encouraged the kids who finished first to look out the windows and tell us what they saw through their binoculars, and they got into some really good dramatic and imaginary play with them, right on the spot.
When the second group of fours came in, one child asked, “Are we making binoculars?” I said that we were and asked how he knew, and he told me that, “All of the other kids in open play have them!” That group was extra enthused about taking their finished binoculars out to open play with their friends.
It was a great morning, y’all!