Make your own magnifying glass

A magnifying glass provides a fun way to explore something new, allowing us to see objects in more detail. They are the perfect tool to use on a minibeast hunt, or for studying new plant specimens and biological drawings. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get hold of a proper magnifying glass, and smaller children can find them difficult to hold and use. So if you need a simple, quick fix then this magnifier activity could be the solution.

What you will need:

  • A clean, cylindrical glass jar – with lid
  • Water
  • Something to look at

How to make your magnifying glass:

  1. Firstly, remove the label from your jar. The smoother the glass the better.
  2. Fill your jar with cold water, right to the top and screw on the lid.
  3. Place your jar vertically in front of objects.
  4. With younger children, experiment by placing the jar in front of objects and asking questions to see if they understand objects are getting bigger when viewed through the glass.
  5. With older children, explore the process of magnification and how it works – a chance to explore physics and the refraction of light (explanation below).
  6. You could make a note of the details that you see, or draw the objects now that you have a clearer view.

How it works:

  • The water and the jar act as a convex lens.
  • As parallel rays of light hit the lens, it bends (refracts) the light inwards towards the eye so that they come together (converge) to create a virtual image on the retina (back of the eye).
  • This in a sense “tricks” the eye – it traces the light rays back in straight lines, as if they had not been bent, to find the focal point of the virtual image; which is further away than the original object.
  • In other words, you have tricked the eye into thinking it is seeing a larger object, that has a focal point from further away.


Let us know what you saw using #DiscoverLearnPlay

Time to complete

5 mins

Suitable for age

Suitable location

Resource Level

Curriculum linked

Sciences (biology; physics; Planet Earth)



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