A spyglass is a portable telescope that sailors used to help them see things that were far away. Sailors used their spyglasses to find land, look out for enemy ships, or to look to the stars for help finding directions on the open sea.


  • craft glue or glue stick
  • clear plastic wrap
  • 4 toilet paper tubes
  • scissors
  • paint or coloured markers
  • coloured paper


  • decorations (stickers, glitter, etc.)
cut roll and scissors

Step 1

Start by making the body of the telescope, also known as the tube. Toilet paper tubes are the perfect craft material for making a spyglass.

With your scissors, carefully cut a straight line down the length of three paper tubes. This will make it easier to roll the tubes into different sizes.

coloured tubes and markers

Step 2

Use coloured markers or paints to colour the outside of the tubes however you would like. Sailors’ spyglasses came in different colours and materials. They were most often made from metal or leather.

tube, glue and markers

Step 3

Assemble the pieces of our telescope. The toilet paper tube that you didn’t cut will be the top of your spyglass.

Take one of your cut tubes and roll it up so it is just small enough to fit inside your first toilet paper tube. Using craft glue, carefully glue the end of your second paper tube so that it holds its shape. Make sure to let your glue dry before moving on to the next step.

tubes glued together

Step 4

Repeat the process with your third toilet paper roll. Roll it up so it is small enough to fit partway into the second tube, then glue the ends together. Then, do this one more time with your fourth and final toilet paper tube. This smallest tube will make your spyglass’s eyepiece, which is the piece of the spyglass that you look through.

Tube with plastic wrap on an end.

Step 5

To make your syglass lens, use scissors to cut out a square of plastic wrap or clear cellophane. Stretch the plastic across the top end of the spyglass and  glue it to the outside of the paper towel roll. Make sure to let the glue dry so that the plastic wrap is nice and secure.

If you have extra plastic wrap around the outside of your spyglass, you can use your scissors to cut off the excess plastic.

end of tube with paper finishing.

Step 6

Use scissors to cut out a strip of coloured paper long enough to fit around the top of your spyglass and cover the plastic wrap on the outside of the telescope.

The lens of the spyglass would let sailors see far away objects by magnifying them and making them bigger.


Tube with gold coloured accents and wave detail.

Step 7

Continue adding decoration to your spyglass. Get creative with the art supplies you have at home.

We added gold paper and wave details to our spyglass, but there is no right or wrong way to decorate.

Dark tube with gold accents.

And now you have your very own maritime spyglass! You can take it with you the next time you head to the beach.

You can imagine you’re a sailor walking the beach for the first time. What do you see along the horizon?”

If you share photos of your creations on social media, be sure to tag us. We’re @vanmaritime on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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