Sometimes your eyes just aren't enough. They're not enough when it comes to seeing the amazing world of microscopic organisms, and they're definitely not enough when it comes to scanning the mesmerizing craters and topography of the moon. Thank goodness for magnifying lenses! We like to have lots of them on hand in varying sizes and strengths. They're great for just about every type of exploration and activity from getting a closer look at leaves and bugs.... to building a simple telescope out of cardboard, tape and string... which is exactly what we did.
We took two cardboard tubes that fit together nicely (a smaller one that slid inside a large one) and taped a magnifier to one end of each tube with gaff tape. Our larger magnifier was a bit bigger than the tube diameter so we used the ring from an oatmeal container lid to aid in taping it to the tube (we cut out the paper part of the lid and trimmed the material until it fit tightly against the lens). After we found the ballpark focal length by using the method mentioned here, we cut the larger tube about 3" longer than the measurement we came up with. After that we slid the smaller tube with the smaller magnifier inside the larger one, with the magnifying side sliding into the tube first. After that we tried sliding it in and out to focus on varying objects, and then trimmed it to a comfortable length. We covered the inside and outside of the smaller tube in black gaff tape to minimize reflective light. We also made a simple tripod out of three sticks tied together with string. Then, since it was still day time, we went outside to test it out by looking for birds nests in trees, making sure not to point the telescope in the direction of the sun. Never point a telescope in the direction of the sun as it is very dangerous and will seriously injure your eyes.
Now we just have to wait for the sun to set so we can test it out on the stars!