Microscopes are one of the first scientific tools kids can safely interact with to get a closer look at the world around them. A microscope offers important early boosts to critical thinking skills and encourages children to make independent discoveries. There are a lot of picks available, some of which have features and accessories that guide kids in their experiments and analysis. If you’re on the hunt for a great microscope, zoom in on our guide to the best microscope for kids and get a closer look at the best pick for your family.

Our Top Picks

Upgrade Choice Kids Microscope

Upgrade Choice

OMAX Digital Biological Compound

Best Budget Buy Kids Microscope

Best Budget Buy

Nancy B's Science Club Microscope

How to Pick the Best Kids' Microscope

1. Recommended Age

When you’re choosing toys and gear for your kids, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the recommended age range. This figure is provided by manufacturers to help buyers understand whether or not a purchase will be safe, fun and effective for the intended recipient. Toys that are too complex for little ones can lead to frustration and ultimately be unusable, while toys designed for young children will quickly be left behind by older ones.

2. Safety Hazards

Keeping our kids safe is our number one priority, which means being aware of any safety hazards that are present on their toys and gear. When it comes to microscopes, the most common possible safety issue is a choking hazard. This means that small parts are present, so children under 3 shouldn’t interact with the device. Additionally, microscope slides are often made of glass, so their careful handling should be among the first lessons kids are taught.

3. Includes

Some of the microscopes on our list are single units, which will require you to buy items like slides, cover slips, tools and, if you wish, materials to examine(though plenty of these are available for free). Other picks have a minimal amount of slides, slips, tools and materials available, and some are full kits that offer kids the potential to perform multiple analyses with what’s included. Younger kids may not need a big kit, but intermediate users who are starting to get more involved with science can benefit from the extra accessories.

4. Monocular or Binocular

These big words describe a pretty simple concept. When a microscope has one eye piece, it is called monocular. When it has two eye pieces, it’s a binocular microscope. Monocular microscopes are just fine for beginners, but kids who spend a lot of time using their gear may prefer a binocular scope. The dual eye pieces offer a wider field area and sharper focus.

5. Camera Included

It’s safe to say this one might surprise those of us who grew up with old school science-class grade utilitarian microscopes. Some models, even ones for kids, now feature cameras which can capture slide images and preserve them for later analysis. While this feature isn’t explicitly necessary, it IS pretty cool, and it gives kids a better chance to look back on what they saw than illustrations in a lab notebook. It’s also a great way for them to accurately compare and contrast different slides.

6. Maximum Zoom

Since a microscope’s sole function is to zoom in on a specimen, it’s pretty clear that maximum zoom matters. The higher the number, the closer a look they’ll get when they peek through their scope. Generally, zoom is adjustable, so kids will be able to calibrate their scope to get the focus they need for specific slides. The wider the zoom range is, the easier this process will be.

The Winners

#1

AmScope M150C-I Microscope

Best OVerall

Featuring magnification up to 1000x, this AmScope M150C-I Student Microscope has a 360 degree rotating head for easy viewing as well as sturdy metal framework that’s durable and holds up to repeated uses. The illumination system may be powered via outlet or via 3 AA batteries, which aren’t included. It’s similar to school issues microscopes, so it’s great for first timers who might be afraid to use something more technologically advanced. There’s no camera on this pick, but one can be mounted easily.

Recommended Age: 7+
Safety Hazards: None
Includes: Microscope, batteries, charger
Monocular or Binocular: Monocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 1000x

#2

OMAX Digital LED Light Microscope

Upgrade Choice

The cream of the crop, the OMAX Digital LED Light Microscope is durable and features advanced technology that’s great for older kids who are working on projects or pursuing STEM interests. The impressive magnification range on this scope ranges from 40 – 2000x, and the 3 MP camera that’s attached to the digital compound microscope makes capturing images of experiments easy. Oil immersion is possible with this model, which features a wide field binocular view for comfort and improved focus as well as 360 degree head rotation for easy viewing.

Recommended Age: 10+
Safety Hazards: None
Includes: Microscope, adapter cords
Monocular or Binocular: Binocular
Camera Included: Yes
Maximum Zoom: 2000x

#3

Nancy B's Science Club Microscope

Best Budget Buy & Best for 5 - 7 years olds

Nancy B’s science gear comes highly recommended by experts, and for good reason. It’s great for encouraging kids to discover in a way that’s easy for them to understand. Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope set features a 26 piece tool kit that includes slides and cover slips. It’s a standard monocular scope that’s easy for first timers to use and understand, and it features illumination to give them a closer look at their specimen(powered by 3 AAA batteries, not included). The enclosed activity journal prompts them through experiments and encourages them to record results.

Recommended Age: 3+
Safety Hazards: Choking hazard
Includes: Microscope, journal, petri dish, storage tubes, tools, slides, cover slips
Monocular or Binocular: Monocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 400x

#4

Educational Insights Geosafari Jr.

Best for 3 - 5 Year Olds

It’s never too early to encourage kids to take a closer look at their world, and this fun first microscope pick from Educational Insights offers 8x zoom in a sweet blue and yellow design that’s perfect for kids. The extra large and wide binocular eyepieces give them great focus as well as comfort and the orange adjustment knob is easy to turn and just the right size for little hands. The easy turning central focusing ability of this fully functional Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. microscope makes it a great pick for their first tool.

Recommended Age: 3+
Safety Hazards: Choking hazard
Includes: Microscope
Monocular or Binocular: Binocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 8x

#5

OMAX 2000X LED Binocular Microscope

Best for teens

This very professional OMAX 2000X LED Binocular Compound Microscope includes slides, cover slips and even cleaning wipes to keep slides and lenses free from smudges and debris. Oil is included to facilitate oil immersion experiments, an advanced technique that increases the resolving power of a microscope, or its ability to facilitate the individual identification of small, tightly grouped objects. The wide field eyepieces give a comfortable view and great focus, and the microscope connects easily to USB digital cameras, which are sold separately.

Recommended Age: 10+
Safety Hazards: Choking hazard
Includes: Microscope, slides, cover slips, lens cleaning kit, power adapter, oil
Monocular or Binocular: Binocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 2000x

#6

Celestron 5MP Handheld Digital

Best Digital Microscope for Kids

The impressive Celestron Handheld Digital Microscope has a built-in 5 MP digital camera on this microscope allows users to save and store images of their specimens for later analysis. The high quality glass lens allows sharper images to be captured, and the size and style of the device are perfect for examining 3D specimens. The 200x zoom is a bit on the low end, but because the size facilitates examination of objects that would be difficult or impossible with a traditional microscope, it still has a valuable place in a collection of optic tools. It comes with a 4 foot USB cord, which is decent, but you may want to consider picking up one that’s a little longer.

Recommended Age: 10+
Safety Hazards: No
Includes: Microscope, adapter cords
Monocular or Binocular: Monocular
Camera Included: Yes
Maximum Zoom: 200x

#7

AmScope Beginner Microscope STEM Kit

Best Microscope Kit For Kids

Great for kids with a growing interest in science, the AmScope Beginner Microscope STEM Kit comes with a 52 piece kit that features all the tools needed for them to perform a variety of cool microscope experiments and investigations. The kit includes a high quality, durable microscope, slides, cover slips and even a brine shrimp hatchery and brine shrimp eggs for kids to raise and examine. There’s tons to do and see with this comprehensive pick that’s ideal for elementary and middle school kids who are showing STEM interest.

Recommended Age: 8+
Safety Hazards: Choking hazard
Includes: Microscope, 52 piece set including tools, slides, cover slips, petri dish, LED light, specimens, batteries and more in carrying case
Monocular or Binocular: Monocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 1200x

#8

Carson MicroBrite Pocket Microscope

Best Pocket Microscope

The Carson MicroBrite LED Lighted Pocket Microscope is a cute little pocket sized microscope that is great for travel and exploring the environment. It offers 40x magnification and convenient LED illumination, plus the long-lasting button batteries that power it are already included. It’s a perfect accompaniment on camping trips, vacations and scouting excursions, and it’s a great size for small hands. At only 2 oz, it’s super lightweight, adding no noticeable heft to a hike or climb. It’s inexpensive yet durable, and it includes 2 slides and a stable base stand for viewing.

Recommended Age: 6+
Safety Hazards: None
Includes: Microscope
Monocular or Binocular: Monocular
Camera Included: No
Maximum Zoom: 40x

FAQs: All you need to know

Q What can kids do with a microscope at home?

A Many kits come with slides, cover slips and tools that kids can use to create their own specimens to analyze. Some others include pre-made slides and small amounts of analyzable material for slide creation, so kids can examine both their creations and the ones that are included. They can illustrate their findings or capture a photo if the microscope allows, allowing them to examine their data later.

Q What skill boosts do kids receive from using microscopes?

A By engaging in the scientific method, kids improve their logic and critical thinking skills. Microscopes and slides are also delicate equipment, and their careful handling offers boosts to hand eye coordination and small motor skills.

Q What are some cool, safe, easy to access objects and solutons that kids can view on slides?

A There are many things kids can analyze that you likely already have in your home or backyard. Grains of salt, a tiny pinch of flour and soil from the backyard are just a few of the many things they can check out. As long as substances are safe and either liquid or granular, they can usually be examined successfully. 

DIY Ideas for Kids' Microscopes

Easy Homemade Microscope

Younger kids may not be ready for a full fledged microscope, but they’ll love this super simple microscope experiment from Colleen at Raising Lifelong Learners. It uses the natural magnifying properties of water to let kids view slides at up to 4X magnification!

DIY microscope

Mad Scientist Birthday Party

Do your kiddos love science? Stephanie at Spaceships and Laser Beams does a great job capturing the theme with her collection of mad scientist birthday party ideas. We love the plastic “test tubes” filled with candy.

Preschool Microscope DIY

Slides and regular microscopes usually aren’t safe for the little set, but there are scopes that are specially designed for tots. This tasks parents with finding safe objects they’ll have fun examining. Check out this great gathering list from Allison at No Time For Flash Cards – craft store rhinestones are an especially fun pick. 

Young child looks through microscope.

Quick Decision

AmScope LED Compound Microscope – Best Overall
It’s a well rounded pick that’s durable and easy for kids to use.

OMAX Digital LED Light Microscope – Upgrade Choice
Great for older users, it has a 3 MP camera and oil immersion capabilities.

Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope – Best Budget Buy
Lightweight and carry-sized, this pick still has decent zoom and a stable base so it’s great for field exploration. A perfect first microscope.

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Hannah H.

Hannah H.

Hannah is both a parent and a freelance journalist and author. You go, girl! She is an impeccable wordsmith and her warm and witty outlook on life makes her pieces a joy to read.

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