Teaching Children HOW to use Binoculars

Spring is the perfect season for teaching kids the fine art of binoculars. Why? Because there are actually things to see! The songbirds are back, baby ducks are swimming around, the mosquitoes haven’t hatched yet and just about every form of wildlife seems to be more active (they must get spring fever too).

Binoculars can be fun for kids (works best with ages 4 and up) to use, but can also be tricky. Having taken hundreds, if not thousands of kids on binocular walks while working at the Ogden Nature Center I picked up a few tips. Here are some ways you can help your child learn the mechanics of binoculars and have a successful outing:

  1. Pick a spot that actually has wildlife. Places with water tend to have more wildlife, so find a wetland or riparian zone. Even a zoo could serve as a good spot for beginners to hone their skills; it’s kinda hard to miss and elephant 20 feet in front of your face.
  2. Make sure your child keeps the strap around their neck at all times! This rule has saved the life of many a binocular. Unless of course they don’t obey tip #7 and end up in the water (yes, this has actually happened).
  3. Binocular Use #1 – Fit the binoculars to their eyes. Start with the binoculars rolled out to a place you know is slightly too big for their eye width. Ask your child how many circles they see, if they’re looking through the binoculars they should indicate that they see two circles. Slowly roll the binoculars smaller and smaller, ask your child to tell you as soon as those two circles turn into one.
  4. Binocular Use #2 – Zero in on a specific object: Have your child stare at a relatively close object (maybe 20 feet away) before putting the binoculars up to their eyes. Tell them to continue staring really hard at that object, they need to keep their eyes right on it! Have your child bring the binoculars up to their eyes without looking away from the object. Do they still see it? Yes!
  5. Binocular Use #3 – Adjust the focus. While they are staring at the object put their finger on the focus wheel (the rolling knob on the top), explain that this is the wheel that focuses the picture. Ask them if the object they are looking at looks blurry, likely it will (if not unfocus the binoculars so they can practice). Have your child roll the wheel until the object they are looking at becomes clear.
  6. Repeat Steps 1-3 until they have it down.
  7. Don’t walk with binos up to your eyes. You have no idea how tempting/dangerous this is, for EVERY kid!
  8. Don’t just look, listen too. If your child is having a hard time finding anything tell them to sit down still for a few minutes and listen. Wait until they hear something, then sneak up on the sound.

If you don’t have a pair of binoculars for your child check out this post on How to Choose A Kids Binocular.
Also, for more ideas on bird watching check out these 9 Tips for Bird Watching with Kids.

9 Comments so far

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  1. […] more from the original source: | Teaching Children to use Binoculars ← Bushnell H2o Series Binoculars-Choose Size 132408 – 8X42 | […]

  2. We love bird watching! I would add just one more tip (from the lovely Michael at & that is not to stare at the sun. You’d think this one is obvious, but kids are kids.! (BTW, Thanks for the mention!)

    • Debi – Yes! I did forget that. Haahaaa. It’s just that the sun is so easy to find…

  3. […] up, get to watching!  A bird book and some binoculars will help (we’ve written before about how to teach kids to use binoculars).  Put a sheet of paper up by the backdoor and keep track of what you see that is new.  Help out […]

  4. Great ideas. We’ve started a camping with kids blog ( and are always on the look-out for like minded bloggers. Great content. Thanks.

  5. […] Binoculars  Whether it’s to view the night sky or the moon, magnify a spider (turn your binoculars upside down), or check out the birds in the trees above camp, binoculars are a great addition to any bag of camping goodies.  With adult supervision, any pair will work or you can buy your kids their own pair fairly inexpensively.  Look for ones with low magnification, wide field of view, not too heavy or consider a pair specific to kids.  I’ve been drooling over these made by Bresser.  They ship from Germany.  For older kids, invest in a pair that is durable and will last awhile (but still not too expensive).  I like these Pentax binoculars.  We wrote a post a few years back on teaching a kid how to use binoculars. […]

  6. […] Bring a bird ID book and some binoculars (here are some tips on how to use them). […]

  7. I just came across your blog while searching for things regarding binoculars and kids. I’m linking to this post on my Astronomommy blog, and I look forward to reading more! One thing though–the How to Choose Binoculars for Kids link is broken.

  8. […] just came across a blog called which has a post on teaching children how to use binoculars. It’s not geared for astronomy, but for wildlife, and I think this is a smart way to start […]


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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