If you have a budding young scientist in your family, you’ve no doubt gone shopping for beginning microscopes. They range widely in quality, and much depends on what you’re looking for. Among the list of popular children’s microscopes below, you’ll find chunky toy microscopes that are simple enough for very young children to use, budget priced scopes with a couple of levels of magnification, and slightly higher priced ones that are more authentic and can provide extra levels of learning. With the last, you’ll probably want to check for certain features such as multiple levels of magnification, a stage and clips for slides, and a built-in light. Some of these microscopes also come in kits with small instruments and even, in some cases, already prepared specimen slides. Whichever you choose, have fun exploring the world of the very small!
If you’re looking for a good first microscope for very young children, you’ll want to take a look at Educational Insights My First Microscope. Made with little eyes and hands in mind, this plastic scope comes with 8x magnification and an LED light (three AAA batteries not included). It has a two-eye viewer and large knobs to make it easier for preschoolers to use.
An affordable and authentic microscope for children 9 and up, the My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope – MFL-06 by C & A Scientific is battery operated. It has 40x, 100x and 400x magnifications so young scientists can truly do some science. It’s portable and has an LED light. Since it’s a duo scope, with a light that can shine from below or above, it’s designed so that kids can use it to view both slides and small objects. The slightly higher price tag reflects the real glass optics that offer young scientists more clarity in viewing.
Looking for a high magnification microscope kit with plenty of accessories? Check out the AmScope M30-ABS-KT2-W Beginner Microscope Kit which comes with 52 accessories and its own case. It has a monocular head with LED light as well as mirror illumination and can magnify at 300x, 600x and 1200x. It’s got a white metal frame and comes with a number of neat accessories including brine shrimp eggs and plastic tweezers.
The attractive Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope And Activity Journal is a dual microscope especially suited for children ages 8 to 11. This lightweight microscope, brightly colored purple and teal, gives 30x, 100x, and 400x magnification and arrives with a 22 page journal full of drawing and writing activities. Its 2 LED lights require 3 AAA batteries.
It’s hard to know where to start in listing the features of the AmScope M158C-E Compound Monocular Microscope, a slightly higher-end scope for young science enthusiasts. One of the most exciting features of this scope is the 0.3 MP camera that allows kids to project still or moving images of what they’re viewing on a computer monitor. The scope will magnify at 4x, 10x or 100x, and it comes with two eyepieces. The camera is both Windows and Mac compatible.
Another affordable microscope kit is the AmScope M30-ABS-KT51 51-piece Kids Student Beginner Compound Microscope Kit. The metal frame microscope has a stage and clips for slides and a built-in light, though you can also view things through natural light. It can magnify at 300x, 600x and 1200x. A coarse focus knob, built-in rotating color filter wheel and sample slides are some of the other handy features in this kit.
The Educational Insights Geosafari Talking Microscope is a nice microscope for the early elementary years, especially suited for children ages 5-7. It comes with 12 already prepared slides and provides a fun game for children to relay what they learn about the insects they observe in those slides. However, it can also be used for kids to view other small things and magnifies 5x.
Another nice first microscope, this one made with preschoolers in mind, is the Learning Resources Primary Science Viewscope. This very affordable plastic microscope has a big focus knob, detachable viewer and 20x magnification. It’s suitable for children ages 3 and up.
The Educational Insights Micropro offers more powerful magnification options for older children, especially those 8 and up. It has five levels of magnification: 50x, 100x, 150x, 300x, and 600x. It also features rack and pinion focusing and a built-in light which requires 2 AA batteries (which you will need to supply). The kit contains some already prepared slides but it also has the materials children will need to prepare their own. Affordably priced, this could be a good beginning microscope for a young science enthusiast.
Another affordably priced beginner scope is the AmScope M30-ABS-KT1-W 300X-600X-1200X 48Pc Metal Arm Educational Kids Biological Microscope Kit. The metal arm helps to support the instrument, which will magnify at 300X, 600X and 1200X. It features both direct and natural illumination features with a mirror and a built-in light. The light requires 2 AA batteries. The specimen stage has a couple of built-in clips and the kit comes with both prepared and unprepared slides, so kids 8 and up can have plenty of learning time.