Wildlife Wednesday: Making a pond-oscope

I’m always looking for new ways to make our garden more wildlife friendly. The latest addition to our garden has been a small pond. It’s still waiting to have the edges tidied up and so on, hence the lack of posts about it to date but it has been keeping us all entertained for the last month or so as we watch its waters fill up with living organisms.

Having a wildlife pond of some kind is really important. Birds, hedgehogs and other animals will use it for drinking water and it can also provide a vital home and breeding ground for frogs, toads, dragonflies and all sorts of water inhabitants. Even a tiny pond will do – you can make one by sinking a washing up tub in the ground, add water and some weed and some rocks piled up to make it easy for wildlife to get in and out. TheĀ Wildlife Trust has lots of info if you are interested in having a go.

How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

Our pond just after it was first built and in need of some finishing off. It doesn’t look this clear any more!

This week we decided to get a closer look at the little bugs that we’ve spotted drifting around below the surface.

Given that our pond is quite new and small, I didn’t really want to let the girls loose pond dipping just yet. Instead, we made our own pond-oscope out of an old yoghurt carton, giving Roo a less cloudy view below the surface.

How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

My little assistant helping make the viewing end of the pond-oscope

Covering the pots in cling held on with an elastic band, Roo then headed outside and was allowed the rare treat of going the other side of our little pond barrier. She used her pond-oscope to take a closer look at the pond weed, at the mosquito larvae (really not the kind of wildlife I was planning on when we built the pond) and the little hoverfly larvae. We also spotted what looked like minute water beetles and some tiny pond snails – both new discoveries!

Pond-oscope in action. How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

Pond-oscope in action!


There’s not a lot in the pond yet but it was still fun to take a peep at things under the surface and the plastic over the end of her pond-oscope also helped to magnify the bottom a little. The pond-oscope will be going into Roo’s outdoor box for future pond examining sessions. I’ll be curious to see what moves into the pond next!

How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

The view through the pond-oscope. Not sure about all those mosquito larvae wriggling about!

How to make your own Pond-oscope

Making a pond-oscope is really easy although younger children will need help, particularly with the cutting bit! If you are really keen you could make a proper reverse periscope – mirrors and all. That for us is a project for when the girls are older and can get involved in the science of mirrors a bit more!

It goes without saying that you should watch children closely at all times when near water – it doesn’t take much for them to fall in, especially when focusing their attention on peering through a small tube. Shallow ponds can be just as dangerous as deeper water.

What you will need:

How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

  • An old large yoghurt pot, plastic bottle or even better, something long like a Pringles tube. If it’s not plastic it needs to be fairly robust to survive getting dunked! A bit of old piping would be even better!
  • Cling film (or other transparent, flexible plastic).
  • Elastic band.
  • Sharp scissors or craft knife
  • A pond or stream to go dabbling in!

How to build your pond-oscope:

How to make a pond-oscope, pond crafts, Baby Routes

Insert a roll of coloured card to help make your pond view more focused and your pond-oscope longer.


  • Using sharp scissors or a craft knife, cut the end off your large pot, bottle or tube.
  • Stretch your clingfilm (or plastic) tightly across the newly opened end.
  • Secure with elastic band tightly.

n.b. If you are using a yoghurt pot with a transparent lid then you can just use the lid instead and cut a viewing opening at the bottom end of the pot instead. It makes a stronger viewing end but be aware that water will probably get seep in before too long unless an adult secures the entire rim of the lid with something like superglue (please be careful around kids with that stuff…it scares me) or some kind of sealant.

  • If your pot is transparent on its sides then you might want to roll up a bit of dark card and pop it inside around the edges to help focus your view. Sometimes the extra light can be helpful though, so do experiment.
  • Head off to your pond or stream and take a look below the surface!



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  1. I keep thinking that we should put a pond in our garden, it would have to be a small one too so I’ll be following progress on yours! Sounds like you’ve already got a good start on the wildlife.

  2. aaa such a simple yet clever idea, thanks for sharing #countrykids

  3. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing the directions.

  4. I love what you have created here. Such a simple idea yet I can imagine so effective, With the tutorial as well pleased to link up to my upcycling linky Trash2Treasure as this is a great use of something you would otherwise have thrown away. I am going to add this to my activity hour ideas here as we are not short of of pond or two and it could be fun at the age of the river too. I hope your pond thrives through the summer and that Roo continues to enjoy finding discovering new things in there with her pondoscope. Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.

  5. OMG this reminds me of my youth! I live in an area where few spells of rain and it will flood and I do this to see whats inside the water! Awww love this project! #countrykids

  1. […] love this version of a pondoscope from Baby Routes, such a fun and easy way to study pond […]

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