How to Make a Pretend Telescope

Written by tara green
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How to Make a Pretend Telescope
You don't have to spend a lot of money for your child to look at the world through a play telescope. (telescope image by Warren Millar from

As they learn to explore the world around them, children discover objects we take for granted with a sense of wonder. A telescope, even a pretend one, can seem like an implement of magic to a young child. Creating a make-believe telescope provides a simple and inexpensive family craft activity. Plus, the pretend telescope makes a creative toy that will provide hours of enjoyment after you put the finishing touches on it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2 cardboard poster tubes with lids, one slightly narrower than the other
  • Construction paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers (optional)
  • Paint and paintbrushes (optional)
  • Rubber stamps and stamp pads (optional)
  • Images from magazines or websites (optional)
  • Glitter, rhinestones or stickers (optional)

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  1. 1

    Check to make sure you have one cardboard tube that will fit inside the other easily but without sliding around in the outer tube. If the tubes are too long for the child to comfortably hold, cut them to a length suitable for the child's arms and height.

  2. 2

    Measure the length and circumference of your cardboard tubes. Use scissors to cut construction paper to the dimensions of each tube.

  3. 3

    Decorate the construction paper however you and your child want: draw pictures using crayons, use rubber stamp images or cut and paste images and attach them to the paper. Other options for decorating the paper include paint, glitter, rhinestones and stickers. If using glue or paints, allow them to dry before moving to the next step.

  4. 4

    Brush adhesive around each cardboard tube. Carefully wrap the paper of the appropriate size around one tube and then the other. Allow both tubes to dry.

  5. 5

    Measure the dimensions of the inside of the outer poster tube's round cap. Cut a picture of a planet or an island seen from out on the ocean to this size and paste it to the inside of the poster tube lid. The child can choose to use the telescope with or without the lid.

    Slide the narrower tube into the wider tube. Demonstrate to the child how the telescope can be lengthened to look through, pretending to gaze at faraway objects. Talk about how telescopes were used in the past by explorers, and how they are used today to look at space.

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