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If you are one of the lucky Americans in position to see Monday’s total solar eclipse —which will touch 14 states as it crosses the country from coast to coast — you’d do well to take a tip from 1963’s fifth grade class of the Emerson School in Maywood, Illinois. Wielding cardboard boxes and knives that today would surely get a kid suspended, the kids demonstrated for LIFE’s readers how to safely look at an eclipse.
During the solar eclipse of 1960, hundreds of people had suffered permanent eye damage from looking directly at the sun. With help from the Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Emerson students avoided the same fate by building Sunscopes, pinhole camera-like contraptions that indirectly project an image of the sun. The magazine offered instructions for those desiring to replicate the project at home:
A final word to the wise from LIFE: “Don’t forget to come out for fresh air.”
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.