Basics of Binoculars

In this lesson plan students will become familiar with the different parts of a pair of binoculars and how to use them.
Grades: K-7
Seasons: Summer & Spring
Time: 5-15 minutes
Supplies: Binoculars
Lesson Plan PDF


Having the right tool makes any job easier and bird watching is no exception. Sometimes, birds are simply too fast, too far or too unpredictable to watch effectively with your eyes alone. Bring in…binoculars! Binoculars help you see and identify field marks, feathers, beak shape, feet and behaviours, while keeping a distance away from the birds themselves and avoiding disturbing their habitats. Of course, tools are only helpful if you know how to use them. Read on for tips and tricks on bino basics, then go out and practice with your own pair.

How to Use Binoculars:

  • Set up a photo of a bird at a distance where you might normally see a bird.
  • Put the binocular strap around your neck. Always use the strap! It’s easy to get distracted and drop your binos – which could get damaged and will no longer be a helpful tool.
  • Adjust the distance between the two eye barrels so they fit your eyes. When they fit correctly, you should see only one circle.
  • Look at the photo without the binoculars first.
  • Raise the binoculars to your eyes.
  • Focus with both eyes first, and turn the central focus wheel to get the image as clear as possible.
  • Close one eye and adjust the eyepiece to finely focus one eye. Repeat with the other eye.
  • Some binoculars only have one adjustable eyepiece. If this is the case, you can adjust the central focus looking only through the eye that doesn’t adjust, then finely focus the other eye.
  • Open both eyes and check the focus. If the image isn’t clear, try focusing again.
  • Can you identify the features of the bird in the photo?

Taking Care of Your Binoculars:

• Don’t touch the lens – fingerprints make things blurry.

• Clean your binoculars like you clean glasses – carefully, often, and with a clean microfiber cloth and lens cleaner.

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