Being naturally curious and filled with an adventurous spirit, children often have a million questions about the universe and how things work. A microscope for kids is an excellent way for kids to learn and discover the world as they’ve never seen it before. From observing the tiny hairs on a spider’s legs or the cells in a leaf, introducing kids to microscopy and STEM learning from an early age is highly beneficial to developing their young minds.
Best Overall Microscope for Kids
The Carson MicroBrite Plus Microscope is lightweight, compact, and very affordable. It’s an excellent alternative for kids to learn about nature without having to disturb or damage the environment by taking a sample to examine.
Best Handheld Microscope
The Carson MicroBrite Plus Microscope is lightweight, compact, and very affordable. It’s an excellent alternative for kids to learn about nature without having to disturb or damage the environment by taking a sample to examine.
Best for Preschoolers
The GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is perfect for kids aged between 3 and 6 years. This stereo microscope allows preschoolers to view solid objects like rocks, leaves, food, and even bugs.
Best for Kindergartners
The GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope is ideal for kids aged between 4 and 7 years old. It’s the only talking microscope for kindergarteners available and will get your kids excited for STEM learning and the world of microscopy!
Best Premium Microscope
Unlike many cheaper children’s microscopes, the Omano JuniorScope features precision glass optics, ensuring a crystal clear image of each specimen. The JuniorScope provides 40x – 400x magnification options, with “EZ Focus” dials guaranteeing you get a crystal-clear picture. A lifetime limited warranty also backs it.
Best Mid-Range Microscope
The My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope – MFL-06 is an excellent microscope for kids aged nine years and up. Two microscopes in one, its dual illumination feature, can function as both a compound and stereo microscope.
Best Budget Microscope
The Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro is a classic-looking compound microscope ideal for parents on a tight budget. It’s suitable for kids aged between 8-12 years and comes packed with a variety of accessories, as well as a hard plastic case for safe storage.
We’ve rounded up some of the best microscopes for kids that are currently available, with useful features and information on each to help you find the most suited one for your family. At the bottom of this article, we’ve added some helpful information for you, including a guide to additional accessories, what features to look for when buying a microscope for kids, as well how to make your own prepared slides, and some fun ideas of things to look at under a microscope!
Types of Microscopes for Kids
There are two types of microscopes for kids: compound microscopes and stereo microscopes. Some microscopes only offer one type or the other, while others provide dual-functionality and can be both. Are you wondering what a stereo or compound microscope means? We’ve put together a quick explanation for you below.
A compound microscope is the “classic” looking microscope with its light source positioned at the bottom of the scope, shining light up through the specimen and the eyepiece. Compound microscopes are used with either glass or plastic slides and allow you to view tiny details like cells and fibers. Because of the magnification required to view such fine details, this type of microscope requires high power. A compound microscope can have either one eyepiece (monocular) or two eyepieces (binocular) which are usually easier for younger kids to use.
A stereo microscope is essentially the reverse of a compound microscope. They positioned your light source at the top, with light shining down onto the specimen. This type of microscope requires less power than compound microscopes, as you don’t need as much magnification strength. Stereo microscopes allow you to examine larger specimen samples like rocks, coins, food, etc., in closer detail.
Before Buying, Consider the Child’s Age
Before going out and purchasing the most advanced/expensive microscope available, consider the age of the child you’re buying it for first. A stereo microscope will be better suited to kindergartners and preschoolers, who will have more interest in viewing larger objects. They won’t have the complex understanding required to view cells and fibers or the dexterity and motor control to operate a compound microscope independently.
For kids under 10, a dual-feature microscope may be ideal, allowing them to operate the stereo function independently while using the compound function with parental guidance and supervision. Kids around this age will need help with handling the glass slides, but they’ll have a better understanding of what they’re viewing when examining cells and fibers. A microscope that offers both stereo and compound helps bridge the gap for kids in this age group.
Of course, for older kids, a compound microscope will be the best option. They’ll have a firm foundation on how a microscope works, as well as how to handle the glass slides with care.
The 10 Best Microscopes for Kids
1. Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope
Something very different from all the other microscopes we’ve featured. The Carson MicroBrite Plus is a lightweight and compact pocket microscope. Simple and easy to use, children of all ages can use the MicroBrite Plus. They designed it for outdoor use, with the user pointing it directly at a living plant or critter to examine.
Certainly not the most robust microscope on our list, the Carson MicroBrite Plus offers 60x–120x magnification. However, you’ll still be able to examine even a thin strand of hair. The precision-molded aspheric lenses mean less distortion and better overall image quality. You can adjust magnification on a sliding dial, while a wide and easy-to-access focus adjustment wheel adjusts the focus.
The Carson MicroBrite Plus features a single LED Illuminator, which requires one AA battery and is not included with the microscope. Designed to be lightweight and compact, the MicroBrite Plus is an excellent alternative for kids to learn about nature without having to disturb or damage the environment by taking a sample to examine.
The position of the LED illuminator is in such a way that you’re able to view both flat surfaces, like banknotes or fabric, and 3D objects, like plants and insects. The MicroBrite Plus Pocket Microscope doesn’t come with any accessories or slides but does come with a limited lifetime warranty included.
Reasons to Buy the Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope
2. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope
If you liked the GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope but need something better suited to even younger children, then the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is perfect. Suitable for kids aged between 3 and 6 years, the stereo microscope allows preschoolers to view solid objects like rocks, leaves, food, or even bugs.
With two large eyepieces and a magnification range of 2.5x up to 8x, the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope allows young children to learn and understand how a microscope (and magnification) works. By starting with just a 2.x view, they can slowly increase the magnification by turning the focusing knob. Not only does this stimulate STEM learning, but it also lays a solid foundation for understanding microbiology and the workings of a microscope.
Additional features include an LED light for enhanced specimen viewing, along with non-skid feet and a sample tray. Three AA batteries are required and are not included with the microscope. The GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is ultra-lightweight, which means kids can carry it around the garden, viewing and learning with ease.
Multi-award winning, the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope was a “Toy of the Year” finalist, awarded with the “Oppenheim Toy Portfolio” gold award and the “Parents’ Choice” silver award. Arguably the best microscope for kids under six, the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is available in either a blue/green or pink/purple design, making it perfect for both boys and girls.
Reasons to Buy the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope
3. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope
If you’re looking for an introductory microscope for kids aged between 4 and 7 years old, the GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope is ideal. The only talking microscope for kindergarteners, the GeoSafari Jr. will get your kids excited for STEM learning and the world of microbiology.
The talking microscope features either fact-mode or quiz-mode, with the voice of Bindi Irwin providing over 100 audio facts and questions. Quiz-mode allows kids to engage with the GeoSafari Jr. by answering various nature-related questions. GeoSafari Jr. also has multilingual support, with a choice between English, Spanish, French, or German audio.
The Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope comes with 20 plastic slides. With 60 images, each slide features three color images that clip securely into place, allowing kids to view the image easily. Audio facts have been linked to each slide, with kids able to learn about each image while viewing them. There is also a handy storage drawer for kids to store their slides away safely.
Featuring comfortable focus-free dual eyepieces, the GeoSafari Jr. allows for up to 5x magnification of each slide. Three AAA batteries are required and are omitted when purchasing the microscope. Compared to the other microscopes on our list, the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope is far more basic in its features. However, it’s a perfect entry to learning about microscopes. It’s age-appropriate and ideal for keeping kids entertained at home, without screen-time!
Reasons to Buy the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope
4. Omano JuniorScope Microscope for Kids
Omano’s best-selling microscope for kids, the JuniorScope, is an excellent high-quality microscope for beginners serious about science! When it comes to quality, they manufactured Omano microscopes under ISO 9001 guidelines, and each undergoes rigorous quality-control checks in the US. Unlike the microscopes on our list, all Omano microscopes carry a lifetime limited warranty as testament to their reliability. Because of their high-quality build, you’ll find Omano microscopes in professional workplaces and nursery schools alike.
Featuring both lower and upper illuminators, the JuniorScope allows you to examine everything from plant cells to insects. Unlike many cheaper children’s microscopes, the JuniorScope features precision glass optics, ensuring a crystal clear image of each specimen. The JuniorScope provides a choice between 40x, 100x, and 400x magnification, with “EZ Focus” dials ensuring you get a crystal-clear image. The LED illuminators are powered with the included three AA batteries.
The Omano JuniorScope microscope for kids includes ten basic accessories such as prepared and blank slides, slide covers and labels, lens paper, a test tube, and petri dish, forceps, specimen pick, dissecting needle, eye-dropper, and a cotton swab. The package also includes a set of “Amazing Microscope Adventures” experiment cards. The cards help teach kids how to use their microscope and how to perform their experiments.
Reasons to Buy the Omano JuniorScope Microscope for Kids
5. My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope – MFL-06
The Duo-Scope Microscope–MFL-06 is an excellent microscope for kids aged nine years and up. Packed with high-quality features, it’s suitable for middle-schoolers and even high-school students as well. The prominent feature being the dual illumination feature, making it more versatile than most microscopes for kids currently on the market.
With one LED light source below, suitable for viewing prepared slides, the Duo-Scope MFL-06 also features a second LED light source for viewing solid 3D objects like leaves or insects. The LED lights require three AA batteries, which are not included with the microscope, so be sure to add some to your cart when checking out. The Duo-Scope does not have a mirror illuminator, so batteries are essential.
Unlike many other microscopes for kids with plastic lenses, the My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope–MFL-06 features glass lenses. The eyepiece allows for 10X magnification, with the objective glass lens providing 40X, 100X, or 400X magnification. Other features include a rotatable head, dual focusing knobs, and a six-hole disc diaphragm.
Included with the microscope is a variety of 50 different accessories, including five plain slides, four prepared slides, a plastic dropper, lens paper, forceps, a plastic test tube, a petri dish, and an instruction manual including guided experiments and more.
Weighing just 2.7 pounds, the Duo-Scope Microscope–MFL-06 is lightweight and easy to carry, making it great for indoor and outdoor use.
Reasons to Buy the My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope – MFL-06
6. Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro
Another grand kids microscope from Educational Insights, the GeoSafari Micropro, is a classic-looking compound microscope ideal for parents on a tight budget. Suitable for both boys and girls aged between 8 and 12 years, the GeoSafari Micropro comes packed with a variety of accessories, as well as a hard plastic case for safe storage.
The body GeoSafari Micropro is made of die-cast metal, providing a solid and sturdy frame. The microscope features a 10x and 20x glass eyepiece and five different magnification settings, including 50x, 100x, 150x, 300x, and 600x.
With two illuminator options, kids can choose to use either the LED light or the mirror. The LED light requires two AA batteries, which aren’t included with the microscope. Alternatively, the reflecting mirror can be used outside in natural sunlight when the batteries run out.
Accessories included with the Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro Microscope include three prepared slides, eight blank slides, eight slide labels, and 16 slide covers, three specimen vials, a petri dish, pipette test tube with cape, scalpel, spatula, stirring rod, and tweezers. An 18-page activity guide with instructions is also included, along with the GeoSafari Micropro.
Reasons to Buy the Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro
7. AmScope M30 Kids Beginner Microscope
The AmScope M30 is an excellent beginner microscope for kids aged 8 to 12 years. This compound microscope comes with a collection of 49 various accessory pieces, along with a hard plastic case for easy storing. It’s an excellent STEM learning tool; this kids microscope is ideal for kids graduating from the very basic “kiddie” microscope but not quite ready for a more premium/advanced level microscope.
Along with the basics like blank plastic slides and covers, tweezers, eye dropper, petri dish, and scalpel–the AmScope M30 also comes with a complete shrimp experiment kit for kids to observe and learn about. The AmScope M30 has a metal body and rotating turret for easy viewing, featuring both a battery-operated LED light illuminator and a mirror. Kids have the option between a battery-operated LED illuminator and a mirror for when the batteries run flat. The AmScope M30 only uses a single LED bulb but includes a spare bulb and 2 x AA batteries.
The AmScope M30 microscope for kids provides six different magnification options, including 120x, 240x, 300x, 480x, 600x, and 1200x. There is a built-in color filter wheel to increase contrast and make it easier to view specimen samples. The microscope weighs 2.9 pounds and comes with a 5-year warranty. Colors available include either white with black trim or a full black option.
We recommend adding the AmScope PS25 Prepared Microscope Slide Set to your cart as well. The slides feature a variety of samples, including plants and insects. They made the slides of glass, so be sure to supervise your younger children.
Reasons to Buy the AmScope M30 Kids Beginner Microscope
8. AmScope M150C-I Compound Microscope
The AmScope M150C-I is an excellent high-quality microscope for all elementary school kids and high school students. With a full metal build and glass lenses, AmScope M150C-I is solid and sturdy. The microscope features a full 360° rotating monocular, allowing a group of children to examine specimen samples easily.
The AmScope M150C-I offers five magnification settings through aberration-correcting 4x, 10x, and 40x glass objectives. The magnification settings include 40x, 100x, 250x, 400x, and 1000x. A wide-field 10x eyepiece, as well as a 25x eyepiece, is also included. The AmScope M150C-I features a co-axial focus dial, offering both coarse and fine focus adjustments.
You can power the LED illumination with the included three AAA batteries and a 110V power supply. You can adjust brightness intensity by using the dial on the side of the microscope.
The AmScope M150C-I Compound Microscope can be purchased either as a unit or a bundle deal with a slide preparation kit and a microscope book. For an additional $20, the bundle deal includes a 5-piece specimen slide kit, a 5-piece blank slide kit, cleaning fluid, microtome, 50 blank slides, 100 coverslips, and “The World of the Microscope” book, etc.
Reasons to Buy the AmScope M150C-I Compound Microscope
9. National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope
The National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope features a lower LED illuminator to view slides and specimen samples and an upper light to examine 3D objects in high quality and intricate detail. So the Dual Microscope functions as a compound and a stereomicroscope.
Geared towards kids aged between 8 and 15 years, the Ultimate Dual Microscope includes an assortment of over 50 accessories, including ten prepared slides, ten blank slides, ten slide covers, and covers, tweezers, an eyedropper, petri dish, hatchery, a learning guide booklet, and more. Kids can learn about the life cycle of brine shrimp with the included shrimp eggs and hatchery station. Included is a mini geode crystal for examining under the upper light.
The National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope comes with two sets of optical eyepieces (20x and 50x magnification), both made of glass. The ten professionally prepared slides included with the microscope feature specimens ranging from earthworms to muscle tissue to fungi and lichen.
Included with your purchase is a padded carry case for safekeeping and a 2-year warranty. For an additional $20, you also have the option of adding National Geographic’s Mega Biology Set, which includes 25 prepared slides.
Reasons to Buy the National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope
10. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope
Aimed at girls aged between 8 and 11 years, the Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope encourages STEM learning through scientific exploration. Unlike any other microscopes we’ve featured on our list, this one comes with a fun 22-page activity journal and 26-piece specimen toolkit.
This purple and teal-colored microscope feature dual LED illumination, with three magnification settings: 30x, 10x, and 400x. The LEDs are powered by three AA batteries, not included with the microscope. As this is a budget microscope for kids, Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope features a plastic lens rather than glass. Other features include a comfortable rubber eyecup and focusing knob.
The activity journal provided with the microscope includes a range of fun science experiments and activities, including .examining different cells, looking at crystals, and observing bugs. Other activities include creative writing and drawing too. Guaranteed to keep your young scientist engaged and learning for hours!
With accessories, the specimen toolkit provided includes all the basics such as four prepared slides, seven blank slides, a specimen vial, seven slide labels, and covers, tweezers, a scalpel, Petri dish, spatula, stirring rod, pipette, and a test tube.
The Family Fun Magazine’s Best Toy Award, the Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope was awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope is an excellent way to keep your young scientist engaged and learning for hours. It allows kids to conduct fun but safe science experiments with no hands-on parental involvement.
Reasons to Buy the Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope
A Helpful Guide to Additional Accessories
Many of the microscopes for kids available will have a bundle deal option where you can get all the accessories you need. However, the essential accessories required are plastic or glass slides. Without these, your child will have a hard time viewing anything in their compound microscope. Even microscopes that don’t come with full accessory kits will often include at least 1 or 2 slides with the microscope.
However, even if they are included, buying extra slides is always a good idea as glass slides are prone to accidental breaks. Having an extensive collection of prepared slides provides endless hours of fun for children, particularly on rainy days!
Our Recommendations for Extra Accessories:
Blank Slides (for Compound & Stereo Microscopes)
For plain glass slides, we recommend getting the AmScope BS-50P-100S-22 Pre-Cleaned Blank Slides and 100pc Cover Slips.
Prepared Slides (for Compound Microscopes)
For prepared slides for compound microscopes, we recommend the AmScope PS25 Prepared Microscope Slide Set.
Prepared Slides (for Stereo Microscopes)
For prepared slides for stereo microscopes, we recommend the AMSCOPE-Kids 48pcs Kids Plastic Prepared Microscope Slides.
Most of the microscopes will require batteries to power the LED illuminator. Some include batteries with the microscope, and others don’t. We recommend getting a set of rechargeable batteries; this way, the fun never stops!
A Useful Handbook
We also highly recommend this handbook, geared towards kids aged between around 9 and 13 years old: AmScope The World of the Microscope – A Practical Introduction with Projects and Activities.
How to Make a Prepared Microscope Slide (DIY)
The method below is known as a wet mount slide. It’s the most common method of making prepared slides, and you can use it for all specimen samples, from plant material to food samples. You can also use concave slides if your specimen is too thick for a standard glass slide or if you’d like to prevent your slides from drying out too quickly. For things like feathers, you’ll want to skip the water and create a dry mount slide instead.
What You’ll Need:
- Plain glass slides
- Slide covers
- An adult to supervise
- Utility knife
- Q-tip or paper towel
- Eyedropper (optional)
- Tweezers (optional)
Using your utility knife, slice thin sections of the object you’d like to view. The thinner you make the slice, the easier it will be to view under the microscope.
Next, using an eyedropper, place a drop of water in the center of a blank glass slide. If you don’t have an eyedropper, you can use the tip of your finger. Make sure that the water droplet is bigger than the size of your specimen.
Using your tweezers, carefully place your specimen in the drop of water on the glass slide. If you don’t have tweezers, just use your fingers.
Carefully place a slide cover over your specimen. If you don’t have slide covers, you can also use another blank glass slide as a cover. You’ll want to avoid trapping any air bubbles under the slide cover. The best way to do this is by lowering the cover on one side first, allowing it to get wet, before slowly pushing out any air as you place the rest of the cover down over the specimen. A tight seal should form around your specimen.
Using a Q-Tip or the corner of a paper town, gently blot the excess water (if any).
The water should form a seal around the object you want to view. Use the corner of a paper towel to blot up any excess water at the edges of the coverslip.
And that’s it! Now you are ready to view your specimens under the microscope! Start with the lowest magnification first and slowly move up to a stronger setting to see more detail. If you find your slide drying out, you can enhance the seal around the specimen by applying a small amount of vaseline with a Q-Tip.
What to look at under a microscope for kids
Have the kids run out of ideas of things to look at under their microscope? We’ve got you covered with a helpful list of ideas for both compound and stereo microscopes!