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5 Best Microscopes for Kids & Teens

Help your child explore the world of nature and science with one of these fantastic educational microscopes that will bring the whole family together to learn.

Teacher and student with microscope

Our children are incredibly inquisitive creatures. It doesn’t matter if it’s mucking about in dirt or trying to catch bugs, if there’s something that intrigues them, they’re going to investigate it – even if it does end in tears!

Yet this curiosity is never something we should try to stifle. Indeed, by letting your child explore the world around them, they can learn a host of valuable skills that will help them right into adulthood.

Microscopes for children are a valuable way you can help your kids explore nature. The whole family can work together to make your own slides, getting to view nature in way you’ve never seen before. Things like sand, which can seem mundane from our eyes, are transformed into thousands of little precious stones under the magic of a microscope.

In no time at all, your child will be wanting to put everything in sight under a lens to see what it looks like, their curiosity spiraling into a world of wonder.

Just remember, curiosity might have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. If you think your child is harboring an inner scientist or explorer, help them hone those skills with one of these exceptional microscopes for kids.

You might even be shocked about how much you learn from these educational gadgets as well.

The Top Kids Microscopes Compared

See how the best microscopes for kids compare in the table below.

Model

Details

AmScope 40-1000x Student Microscope

Our Top Pick

AmScope Student Microscope

Price: $$$

 - 40x - 1000X magnification

- Dual lighting system 

- Huge accessory pack

- Learning pack

Omano JuniorScope

Omano JuniorScope

Price: $$$

 - 40x - 400X magnification

- LED light

- Accessories included

- Learning pack

National Geographic Dual Student Microscope

National Geographic Dual LED

Price: $$

 - 10x - 25X magnification

- Dual LED lights

- Accessories included

- Learning pack

AmScope Kids Microscope

AmScope Kids Microscope

Price: $

 - 120x - 1200X magnification

- Built-in light 

- 52 piece kit

GeoSafari Jr.

Perfect for under 8's

GeoSafari Jr.

Price: $

 - Audio quiz & fun facts

- Comfortable dual eyepiece


The Best Microscopes for Kids Reviewed

In this section we go into detail about our recommended models. Get all the stats and features and find out exactly what we think too.


AmScope Student Microscope  *** Our Top Pick ***

Awarded the best student microscope in 2017, it’s little wonder that this AmScope microscope kit for students is so popular.

Great value for money, it comes armed with not only a versatile and sturdy microscope, but you also get a fantastic bundle of materials and slide-preparation tools too.

The introductory materials are highly comprehensive, with guides to teach even the most novice of scientists – we’re looking at you parents here – how to use your new microscope to its full potential.

This also includes two sets of slide kits, with each kit containing five blank slides and five slides with biological material – perfect for practicing to see if you can find anything under the microscope.

As well as your two kits, this AmScope student microscope also comes with 50 blank slides and 100 cover slips ready for making your own slides. Your kit has all the tools you’ll need for your own slides, including red and blue dyes.

Fear not, if that all sounds a little out of your comfort zone, your new microscope also comes with a handy book that will introduce you to everything you need to know about microscopes and how to use them properly. All-in-all, it’s one of the best microscopes for beginners available on the market.

Age-wise, this microscope is ideal for students in elementary to high school. It’s perfect for extra study at home or for home schoolers who want a little more hands-on experience, rather than just seeing pictures in textbooks.

For a budding scientist, this is an incredibly versatile microscope with it’s dual-light and magnification options of 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X and 1000X. This means you can use your microscope to view large objects such as insects or flowers close-up, as well as using it for viewing cells and the vascular system of leaves – such as the phloem and xylem - at a high magnification.

The dual-lights and focusing knobs – which are located on both sides for easier use – are very simple to use. Many children can find it difficult to focus in on a slide, however, with the AmScope it feels pretty simple, which is essential for helping your child to learn.

Unlike others in its price range, the AmScope doesn’t use lots of plastic. This means you get a solid metal-framework microscope that will last for years. Particularly useful if you have multiple children who can make use of it.

Just beware, the lights on this microscope require three batteries. If you or your budding Charles Darwin keep forgetting to turn it off, these will need to be replaced often.

    Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Versatile microscope with multiple magnification
  • Introductory book, slide kits & blank slides
  • Hard-wearing metal frame

    Cons

  • Needs three batteries for the lights
  • The most expensive model on this list

  Bottom Line: You really cannot argue against the worth of this microscope. With such versatility at a reasonable price, it will make the perfect gift for any budding scientist or as a microscope for teens looking to improve their grades.




Omano JuniorScope

If you love the idea of the AmScope microscope but feel it may be a little too complex for your child, then the Omano JuniorScope could be what you’re looking for. This microscope, although without as high a magnification as 1000X, still comes with an impressive 40X, 100X and 400X magnification, which is more than enough for any kids’ microscope.

What’s really fantastic about this microscope is the crystal-clear imaging. Many cheaper microscopes can feel tempting for the prices but, in reality, these microscopes are far more trouble than they’re worth as it’s so hard to view anything. With the JuniorScope, your child will find images with ease.

Similar to the AmScope, your 40X zoom is best suited to solid objects such as bugs. Your higher magnification settings will let you look at bacteria and blood cells – something which is sure to amaze everyone in the family.

Indeed, you can use your new microscope as a way for your family to spend time together. Take the kids for a hike at the weekend and give everyone a bucket to fill with interesting finds, later on you can all prepare slides and look at what you’ve found under the microscope. It won’t just be the kids that are getting educated!

Included with your microscope is the book “The World of the Microscope” as a free gift, which has multiple guides and experiments for your child to enjoy. You’ll also get a microscope tool kit including: stains, prepared slides, blank slides, test tube, forceps, lens cleaning paper and a dropper – basically everything your child needs to get started.

When this children’s microscope arrives, it can be tempting for everyone to dive in and get something under the scope. It’s really important to take the time and set it up properly though, by reading the instructions.

In fact, giving your child the chance to read the instructions and help set up their own microscope can be a brilliant learning experience. By getting them involved right from the start, they’ll know exactly how to care and use their microscope – such as keeping it out of direct sunlight.

Plus, children respond so much better to reading the instructions and figuring it out themselves. If you tell them a set of rules, they’ll see it as a chore rather than a fun project.

    Pros

  • Sturdy frame
  • Suitable for over eights, but younger children could use under supervision
  • Perfect getting children learning and having fun

    Cons

  • Lots of small parts as well as glass components
  • Not as powerful as the AmScope

  Bottom Line: If you want a crystal-clear microscope that will let your child embrace their inner scientist then this is a worthy buy. It comes with loads of accessories and a brilliant book that will teach them everything they need to know.




National Geographic Dual LED Student Microscope

For the full experience that is way more than a toy microscope, the National Geographic microscope will teach your child not just the basics of using a microscope, but the history of this fantastic piece of equipment too.

Just as you would expect from a National Geographic-branded microscope for kids, this comes packed with just about every accessory you could dream of – over 50 in total.

The microscope itself comes with a 20X and 50X magnifying lens, which isn’t as large as some of the other microscopes on this list. However, don’t be put off by this, these lenses are both high-quality optical glass lenses. This means that they are not only hard-wearing, but you’ll also get a sharp, clear image for anything you put under the lens.

The microscope also benefits from dual-lighting – from above and below – which will also make any slide appear clearer under the lens.

The kit you receive with your new microscope is what makes this one of the best kids’ microscope sets you’ll find – there’s simply loads. For one, you get a pack of 10 prepared slides. These all have some sort of biological material on it, your job is to use your microscope to discover what each specimen is.

What really sets this Amazon kids’ microscope set best-buy apart from the rest though, is the shrimp farm you get, allowing you to observe the life-cycle of these tiny creatures. Supplied with your microscope are brine shrimp eggs as well as the hatchery station. Your child just needs to follow the instructions to hatch them, then you’ll be able to observe them under the microscope.

Perfect for a school science fair, this brine shrimp experience will give children essential scientific experience of how experiments might work if they chose science as a career. This includes learning skills in visual analysis, scientific procedure and note-taking – all skills which are vital in other academic areas too. The best of it, it all feels too fun to be educational.

Also included in your kit are: 10 blank slides and covers, slide labels, slide storage box, eye dropper, petri dish, tweezers and a mini geode.

    Pros

  • Glass lens and dual-lighting make for a clear image
  • Large set of interesting accessories

    Cons

  • Magnification only goes to 50X

  Bottom Line: Although this microscope lacks the same magnification as others on the list, it is still great value for money. By adding in the brine shrimp experiment and other useful accessories, this will stimulate your child’s interest in the world of science. You never know, you might have the next Nobel Prize winner!




AmScope Kids Microscope

The problem with most microscopes for children is that you have to balance age-appropriate with something that will excite them too. This is where the AmScope Kids microscope kit comes into play.

Not only is this a microscope for a 5-year-old genius – like a little Sheldon Cooper – who want something more fulfilling than a toy microscope, it will keep children entertained up to around age 12. If you’re looking for microscopes for teens, you’ll need something a little more advanced.

An ideal beginner compound microscope, this microscope comes with an impressive range of magnifications: 120X, 240X, 300X, 480X, 600X and 1200X. These lenses will be strong enough for you to study cells, making it perfect for a companion to study. Especially if your child is particularly interested in biology. You’ll be able to create slides of onion cells or cheek cells easily, which both look very interesting under a microscope.

Like the National Geographic set, your AmScope model comes with everything you need to run the brine shrimp experiment. The key benefit here is that using this microscope, you’ll have a much higher magnification to view your specimens and make sketches from. Again, this would be perfect for a school project.

The microscope itself comes in a protective case made from plastic. This keeps the microscope firmly in place, making it easy to transport. This could be useful if they’d like to take it to school or to a friend’s house.

The case also holds the many accessories that come with this kids’ microscope kit, there are over 50 accessories in total. Worry not, though, all the tools are plastic so they’ll do the job, but aren’t sharp or dangerous in any way.

The only real issue you have with this microscope is that the focus isn’t spectacular. It will work absolutely fine for looking at sand, plants or the likes of the shrimp experiment, however, if you wanted to look at something like cells or bacteria, it just can’t produce a sharp enough image.

This shouldn’t put you off such a reasonably priced piece of equipment though. It does exactly what an elementary-age child will want to see. In fact, armed with all its accessories it’s actually one of the best children’s microscopes on the market. Then, when they want something more advanced, try the AmScope Student listed here.

    Pros

  • Large range of magnifications
  • Sturdy storage box
  • Lots of accessories included

    Cons

  • To view bacteria you’ll need a microscope with better focus for a clearer image.

  Bottom Line: If you have a young child that is really interested in nature and science, then you cannot go wrong with this microscope. True, it might not have the clear imaging for some cells, but it’s more than enough to keep then entertained up to their teens.




GeoSafari Jr.

Of course, it’s not just our older children that might want to explore the world of science – our preschoolers might love a microscope too! Especially if they’re showing a particular interest in animals and nature.

The GeoSafari Jr. is the best microscope for kids looking to learn about the world before they go to kindergarten. For one, this microscope actually talks! Voiced by Bindi Irwin, daughter of Steve Irwin and television star in her own right, Bindi will help teach your mini wildlife warrior lots of facts about the world around us.

To activate the voice, your child just needs to slide one of the realistic slides you get with the microscope onto the viewer. They will then hear facts and information that tells them what they’re looking at – all in a fun way that will feel like they’re playing a game.

The microscope comes with 20 of these slides, all of which have three color images on them. That means there’s over 60 images for your child to look at – hundreds of hours of entertainment! The microscope comes loaded with 100 pre-loaded facts too. These include slides that will teach your child about snow, butterflies and honey bees.

You can even switch from fact mode over to quiz mode and here the microscope will ask your preschooler questions in a rewarding way. Perfect practice for going to school and performing academically in years to come. The talking feature is also multilingual, with four languages included, which is really useful for families trying to master multiple languages in their home.

One problem with microscopes aimed at older children is eye strain. This is due to a microscope generally working from one lens. During science lessons at school, your child is taught to keep both eyes open with looking down the lens – which is far more difficult than you might think - to reduce this strain.

GeoSafari Jr. know that your preschooler isn’t ready for that kind of discipline though, which is why they’ve added two eyepieces. This means the microscope is comfortable to use, which is essential if you want them to actually use their microscope.

Another plus point when it comes to young children, the GeoSafari Jr. is plastic making it both safe for them to use alone and easily cleaned. The slides can even be stored in the microscope itself, so you won’t need to frantically search for that safe place you stored it – we’ve all been there.

    Pros

  • Sturdily made with in-built storage
  • Educational and fun
  • Double eyepieces for comfort

    Cons

  • Runs on batteries

  Bottom Line: This is an absolutely fantastic product that is clearly the best kids’ microscope for preschoolers. The talking element makes it fun and informative, really inspiring your children to want to learn about the world.




Conclusion 

Choosing the right microscope for your child will mainly come down to age, but the younger you can get them involved in science, the more they will get out of their microscope.

Toddlers are absolute sponges when it comes to learning, which is what makes the GeoSafari Jr. such great value for money over all the microscopes on this list. True, it’s only really for preschoolers so it won’t last you years into the future. Yet, for that year or so your child does play with this microscope toy, they have the potential to learn a lot of facts and most importantly, start to experience the thrill and reward of learning.

For the best overall microscope on this list, though, you really cannot beat the versatility and value of the AmScope Student. It has the longest life of any of the microscopes here, with elementary children right up to high schoolers being able to use this machine for their studies.

True, it might not have some of the fun extras that others offer, such as the brine shrimp farm, but these can easily be purchased elsewhere. The fun your child has with their microscope is what you can make from it. Use the blank slides provided to explore nature and see what you can discover  when you put them under that lens.

Then, when it comes to studying for you science classes at home, your AmScope will last you right through school, helping you to see and learn about cells, bacteria and other biological structures.


Need something a bit more powerful? Don't miss our guide to the top microscopes for adults.


Kid with microscope


Buyer’s Guide 

Buying a microscope can seem simple on paper – any old one will do, right? No!

Looking at a microscope should be given the same time and thought as a new laptop or computer might. You’ve got to list everything you think a child needs or would enjoy from a microscope and then find the one that ticks the most boxes. Which can get a little confusing when each microscope has a list of specifications longer than your arm. Here’s some little pointers to keep you on track.


  • Magnification Isn’t Everything 

It can be tempting to just pick the microscope with the biggest magnification. After all, the biggest numbers must mean it’s the best. Yet that is far from the case.

Yes, higher magnification means you’ll get to see cells and bacteria under your microscope. However, if the focus and lenses on your microscope don’t live up to that big magnification number, then it’s liable to be fuzzy.

If you’re looking for the most advanced microscope, look at those aimed at higher ages. These will be suited to that age groups’ school curriculum, which for the high school curriculum has advanced to cell life.

Look for words like ‘easy focus’ too. One of the hardest things with microscopes is being able to focus it enough to see what’s on your slide. If there’s no easy focus mechanism, it might be too hard for your child to see their slides. This is highly likely to lead to them losing interest in their microscope and perhaps, even science in general.

Children using a microscope while studying.jpg


  • Plastic is Not Fantastic 

For parents, plastic is a miracle. Not only is it hard-wearing, but it’s also nice and easy to clean. When it comes to microscopes, though, plastic is far from fantastic.

Microscopes need to be sturdy, especially when they are getting used a lot and plastic just doesn’t cut it here. Instead, look for strong metal frames that can withstand anything. These are the types of microscopes that will last for years, rather than something that breaks after a few uses.

Also look to see what the optics are made from. You’re going to want as much glass here as possible, as this will ensure a clearer image under the microscope. Again, those aimed at higher ages will tend to have better materials, but they will also have a price to match. 


  • Children are Fickle 

Kids change their minds daily – even hourly – about what they love. They can spend weeks obsessing over a certain toy or gadget, desperate to get it for their birthday and then come the big day? Not even interested.

So, when you’re looking at buying a microscope for kids, there’s always going to be an element of risk. For some, science will be everything. They’ll adore their science classes at school and will want to bring that excitement home to use their microscope. Others might like the idea of one for a short time but, when they actually get one, that interest fades.

Before you commit to a particularly expensive or advanced model, you might want to try a cheap microscope first. Even better, if a friend or family member has a microscope, ask to borrow it to see if your child actually likes using it.

students with microscope
  • Age is Just a Number 

As parents, many of us get bogged down by the idea of something being age-appropriate. With a microscope, though, you’re going to have to look to the future.

If your child is particularly talented or interested in science, a microscope aimed at their age might not cut it. To get a better idea of what microscope they might like, have a look through their homework. If school is focusing mainly on nature, then a microscope suited for junior scientists will work fine. If they are expressing an interest in cells, you would be better looking at a student microscope.

On the other hand, if your child is new to the idea of microscopes, don’t go too advanced. If a machine is too hard to use, they will lose interest very quickly.


  • Be Prepared to Get Accessories 

All of the microscopes on this list come with some wonderful experiments to keep your child busy. These are finite though. You’re going to need to add to stores of glass slides and stains, so keep this in mind if you didn’t want to spend any more money.

Fear not, though, if your child is getting through all the slides and experiments that accompanied the microscope, it means they love their gift. Look online for simple experiments to do as a family and plan trips to find material to look at under your microscope. It will bring you all closer together and everyone – even you – will learn something new. Which is priceless, really.

Student studying with a microscope

Hopefully the microscopes on this list don’t just inspire you to invest in a microscope for your child, but also to get stuck into some science too. Just because it’s a school subject, doesn’t mean science is boring – quite the opposite!

Science can be incredibly fun; getting stuck into nature and learning about the world we live in and how our bodies work, is an amazing experience.

Every microscope on this list is a fantastic piece of equipment that will spark the imagination of your child and help you all to learn and discover. Just watch out for your young scientist trying to steal a blood sample off you when you’re trying to sleep, though.


A Glossary of Scientific Terms:

Compound microscope – A scientific piece of equipment used to view a source at a highly magnified state. These microscopes can reach higher levels of magnification than low-powered or stereo microscopes.

Magnification – This is the ability of the lens on your microscope to magnify an image. The number given is a ratio of the size of the image you see compared to the original object. For instance, images viewed at 40X are less magnified than those at 100X.

Biological materials – materials that are taken from a living structure. These can be in whole or part of a structure.

Vascular system of plants – the tissues and fibers within a plant that help it to function. Xylem tissue helps to transport water through the plant, keeping it rigid. The phloem transfers food from the plant leaves to other parts of the plant.


We hope you've got value from our guide and you're well on the way to choosing the perfect microscope for your child. 

If you have any questions then please leave a comment down below and we'll get back to you asap!


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