Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kid Craft :: Binoculars for budding naturalists

My friend Courtney has a theory when it comes to doing activities with your child - There is an inverse relationship between the amount time and effort you put into making something with your child and the amount of actual enjoyment by your child. When you spend hours lingering over the perfect craft or activity with your child, they drop it in 2 minutes, never to return to it. When you slap something together in 30 seconds with no thought or skill associated with it, you can guarantee that your child will love it. This explains the success of these very low-tech binoculars.

The reason behind these binoculars is simple. My three-year-old has changed his identity and now firmly believes that he is British naturalist Nigel Marvin. Nigel carries a backpack and wears binoculars. Jace now carries a backpack constantly and was in desperate need of binoculars to complete the ensemble. Jace became obsessed with Nigel when he got hooked on his Prehistoric ParkDVD set. He is obsessed to the point that he now will only respond if you call him Nigel and he has renamed his big brother Bob, after the park handyman, and I'm Suzanne, after the park veterinarian. This is how we've been living for well over a month now.

So I think it's clear why we needed to create binoculars. Why on Earth another kid would need them is beyond me. But I know there are plenty of quirky toddlers out there, so maybe this tutorial will save another mom whose kid needs binoculars now. Right. Now.

Have a budding naturalist too? Here are the easy steps to throw together your own binoculars in just a few minutes.


Two empty toilet roll tubes (or one paper towel tube cut in half)
Electrical tape
Construction paper
Glue stick
3 Plastic bottle tops
Drill (not pictured)

First you want to cut you sheet of black construction paper in half lengthwise. This makes two long rectangles that should be the same width as your cardboard tubes. Then wrap the cardboard around each tube and cut it to size. You'll have two rectangles of paper to go around your two tubes.

Give your kid a glue stick and have them glue the construction paper and wrap it around the tube. Do the same with both tubes. Then wrap a piece of black electrical tape around the center to keep them together.

Get a small rectangle of cardboard and wrap it in a contrasting color of construction paper. Once again, give your kid a glue stick and have them glue the paper onto the cardboard.

Hot glue a soda bottle top to the middle of the cardboard for the button. It's best to also use a hot glue gun to attach the cardboard rectangle to the tubes. And obviously don't let the kids use the hot glue gun.

Then get a drill and drill two small holes right through the middle of two plastic bottle tops. These are from some 2-litre juice bottles.

Put some hot glue around the edges and glue them to one end of both tubes.

Get a piece of ribbon or yarn and tape it to the outside of the binoculars so they can be worn around the neck. Measure your kid beforehand so they don't dangle too low.

Viola. Binoculars.

Jace has been using these binoculars daily for about three weeks now. We made a pair for each boy and luckily Aidan lost interest in them within the first 5 minutes, so Jace has two pairs to switch between when one pair gets damaged. We have since re-hot glued the white "eye" pieces back on about 6 times each and have reinforced them with electrical tape.

He puts them around his neck when he gets up in the morning and takes them off at bedtime. He also wears them when we go out and tries to spot dinosaurs with them while riding in the cart at the grocery store.

Oh, just don't call them binoculars. They're glasses.

And don't call him Jace. He's Nigel.


Ribbit said...

Very adorable, and moreso that he's exploring and learning while playing so. The boy and girl play house a lot. The girl, apparently, is fed up with being the baby sister, a casting which she feels she has perfected, but is perfectly content being the pet monkey. This role so fits her that she doesn't feel inclined to leave it at home and we must converse with her in 'monkey speak' as well.

On that note, I'll say, "oooh-ooh, ahhh, ahhh" which means job well done.

Erin said...

This, I can handle! Thanks, Kate...my kids will now be occupied while I harvest and can my jalapenos today! Good thing I have some empty paper towel tubes saved up...I was just waiting for you to guide me, lol!

Darla said...

How adorable. Brings back memories of my 22 year old son. I never knew who he was going to be from day to day! Love to see the imagination at work!

Annie*s Granny said...

Suzanne, how clever of you! Nigel is so lucky to have a mom who lets him help make useful objects, rather than jumping in the car and driving to Wal-Mart to buy the ready-made model!

Hmmm...maybe Nigel could use those binoculars to spy on Ribbit's monkey-daughter. Just sayin'.

Lo said...

Great idea Kate! I may have to whip up some of those glasses for Bindi A.K.A Isabela, LOL

The Hip Homemaker said...

brilliant! I won't need this for awhile, as Avery is only one, but I will store it away for future use!

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