Best microscopes for kids 2022

A young girl looking through a microscope.
(Image credit: Francesco Carta fotografo via Getty Images)

Learn about the smaller side of the world with the best microscopes for kids.

Because their brains are constantly developing and taking in new information, kids are naturally curious and interested in learning more about the world around them. Microscopes give these kids the opportunity to learn about an otherwise unreachable environment. But how do they work? 

A microscope makes tiny things easier to see by using light to enhance the size and quality of a specimen or object. Essentially, it’s an extremely powerful magnifier to look at things like bacteria or cells. There are two types of microscopes:  an optical version that relies on a lens system and an electron version that uses electrons instead of light. And while everyone can use a microscope, different types are better suited for specific projects or age groups. A children’s version is usually a simplified version of a more complex machine geared toward scientists, researchers, or adults. 

Finding a suitable microscope can be challenging whether you have shopped for one. First, it’s important to figure out the specifics: What is your child interested in? Do you need a waterproof model? How skilled is your child in handling technology or scientific equipment?

In most cases, parents, educators, and other consumers are looking for a durable, reasonably priced model with additional accessories or projects. The Live Science team has created this guide to help narrow your search for the best microscope for kids. 

Want more home science equipment for your young learners? Our guide to the best science kits for kids has all kinds of fun experiments for them to experience. And if your kids are a little older, you can also check out our guide to the best microscopes for students too. 

now $35.59 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Black Friday Deal

Amscope 120x-1200x 52pcs Microscope: was $54.99 now $35.59 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Save $24.40: You can get 35% off our top-rated kids microscope in the Black Friday sales. This microscopes has a 1200X magnification and comes with a carry case.

  • Related: Are you looking for more ways to teach your child about science? Check out our guide to the best binoculars for kids (opens in new tab).

Best microscopes for kids overall

(Image credit: AmScope)
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AmScope 120X-1200X Kids Beginner Microscope STEM Kit

The best STEM-friendly microscope kit for scientists-in-training

Specifications

Age range: 6+
Microscope type: Compound
Max Magnification: 1200X
Carrying case included: Yes
Size: 15.8 x 14.6 x 5.1 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

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1200X magnification
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Durable design
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Carrying case included

Reasons to avoid

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Unsuitable for preschoolers

At the top of our list you’ll find the AmScope 120X-1200X 52-pcs Kids Beginner Microscope STEM Kit (M30-ABS-KT2-W). This powerful compound microscope for kids is more than just a tool, it’s a complete kit. The 52-piece set comes with a neat brine shrimp experiment, and all the accessories your child will need to get started. 

It's well built with an all-metal frame and offers easy magnification adjustments and a color filter wheel. There is also an LED light to help you illuminate your subject and a selection of materials and insects to view under the scope.

If you're looking for a microscope to help your kids learn that won't break the bank, then the AmScope 120X-1200X 52-pcs Kids Beginner Microscope is a fantastic choice.


(Image credit: My First Lab)
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My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope

One of the best microscopes for budding biologists everywhere

Specifications

Age range: 9+
Microscope type: Stereo / Compound
Max Magnification: 400X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 12.2 x 6.1 x 5.1 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

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50-piece science kit
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Quality optics
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Durable design 

Reasons to avoid

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More expensive 
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Unsuitable for very young kids

Best for viewing dissection experiments, internal cell structures, plants, rock and minerals. The My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope (MFL-06) has a lot to offer in the hands-on learning department. This 50-piece kit, like most other kits, comes with all sorts of scientific accessories (blank slides, a plastic test tube, tweezers), in addition to an experiment guide and operating manual. 

The lightweight design is durable enough for outdoor use, and the monocular eyepiece allows up to 400X magnification for whatever the next experiment entails; it functions as a compound and stereo microscope in one. It's more expensive than other microscopes on this list, but it’s also a higher-quality tool; the optics are made from glass (as opposed to plastic, like some models), and the durable metal-and-plastic body is built to last. For preteens with a serious interest in science, this could be their first mini-lab.

Best budget microscopes

(Image credit: Carson)
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Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope

An inexpensive, pocket-sized microscope the whole family can enjoy

Specifications

Age range: 8+
Microscope type: Stereo
Max Magnification: 120X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 14 x 9 x 6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds

Reasons to buy

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Easy to use 
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120X magnification

Reasons to avoid

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Case not included
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Battery not included

This one is great for viewing coins, plants, seashells, rocks and minerals, and proves that backyard exploration doesn’t have to break the bank. The Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope is an excellent case in point; this handheld stereo microscope is small enough to slip into any pocket, and the battery-powered LED light illuminates objects (up to 120X) in the palm of your hand. The aspherical lens system is surprisingly robust, resulting in bright, clear imagery all around.

For casual summertime beach excursions to winter woodland walks, this is a great complement to your next nature hike. Curious minds of all ages will enjoy the Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope.


SkyBasic wireless digital microscope for kids - a great, tech-integrated option

(Image credit: SkyBasic)

Skybasic Digital Microscope

One of the best digital microscopes for students of all ages

Specifications

Age range: 5+
Microscope type: Digital
Max Magnification: 1000X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 6.5 x 4.7 x 1.9 inches
Weight: 10.4 ounces

Reasons to buy

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Simple design
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1000X magnification
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2-MP camera 

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive 
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Unsuitable for toddlers

Ditching the manual microscope controls that you’d normally expect from this technology (for example, bulky adjustment knobs and dials), the Skybasic Digital Microscope is as portable as it is versatile. This 50X to 1000X microscope is wireless and designed to work in conjunction with your Android or iOs device. This clever little tool streams pictures and videos of magnified images right to your phone from up to 33 feet away — no wires required. 

The 2-megapixel camera catches beautiful 1080p images, and the built-in LED lights can be adjusted for proper brightness levels. The controls for this microscope are super simple, too, which means your kid will probably figure out how to use it quicker than you will. This one is perfect for viewing plants, insects, rocks and minerals.

Best microscopes for pre-schoolers

(Image credit: Educational Insights)
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Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope

A terrific talking microscope for the pre-school crowd

Specifications

Age range: 4+
Microscope type: Stereo
Max Magnification: 5X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 10.1 x 8.1 x 5.6 inches
Weight: 1.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

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Interactive features
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Multiple language modes

Reasons to avoid

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Weak magnification 

The Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope is a casual classroom in a box. That’s because this novel microscope features the narration of young Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin, who teaches your child more than 100 interesting factoids about plants and animals through an integrated microphone.

The built-in storage compartment houses 20 slides (featuring three images per slide), which can be used for two different modes of play: Fact or Quiz. In the former mode, the microscope identifies these images out loud, reciting fun facts for your child to learn; in the latter mode, Bindi quizzes your child on their general knowledge of each slide. 

The standard model comes with English, Spanish, French and German audio options, while a second model includes Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.

These interactive, STEM-friendly features make the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope one of the best microscopes for kids (particularly those in preschool). It’ll keep them busy for hours on end.


(Image credit: Kidzlane)
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Kidzlane Microscope Science Toy for Kids

One of the best microscopes for curious toddlers

Specifications

Age range: 3+
Microscope type: Stereo
Max Magnification: 8X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 8.2 x 7.6 x 6.6 inches
Weight: 1,7 pounds

Reasons to buy

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STEM-friendly education
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Activity booklet included

Reasons to avoid

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Batteries not included

As its colorful branding implies, the Kidzlane Microscope Science Toy for Kids was built with the younger crowd in mind. This beginner microscope, meant for ages 3 and up, is bound to spark their curiosity as they examine everyday objects in finer detail. Designed specifically for younger children with small hands (ages 3 and up), you needn’t worry about sharp edges here.

Another STEM-friendly entry to this list, the Kidzlane Microscope comes with tweezers, a (plastic) scalpel, and pretend spider and lizard specimens to make your kid feel like they have their own lab; they’ll build hand-eye coordination as they position objects beneath the viewfinder, and the included activity book encourages critical thinking skills with a variety of fun experiments. 


Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Kids Microscope

(Image credit: Educational Insights)

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Kids Microscope

A great cheap microscope for toddlers.

Specifications

Age range: 3-6 years
Microscope type: Not specified
Max Magnification: 8X
Carrying case included: Yes
Size: 1.1 x 8.1 x 10 inches
Weight: 1,1 pounds

Reasons to buy

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Under $20, 
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Easily maneuverable for small hands 

Reasons to avoid

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Requires batteries
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No slide clips 

The Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. provides kids with an easy, hands-on experience with their first microscope. With large knobs and two extra-large eyepieces, they won’t have any trouble looking at objects they find. The large tray also allows for examining larger things like leaves, rocks, or flowers. Starting at 2.5x magnification, kids can gradually adjust the visual field for a chance to learn about their findings without becoming overwhelmed. 

Not only does this enhance their learning experience, but it also allows them to go at their own pace! The fun isn’t limited to the microscope, either. A host of free activities are included with this package, along with 12 pre-designed slides. To use this microscope, all you need are three AAA batteries. 

Best microscopes for students

(Image credit: National Geographic)
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National Geographic Dual LED Student Microscope

The best microscope for kids and pre-teens

Specifications

Age range: 6+
Microscope type: Stereo / Compound
Max Magnification: 50X
Carrying case included: Yes
Size: 12.5 x 7.3 x 5.7 inches
Weight: 2 pounds

Reasons to buy

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STEM-friendly tools included
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Quality design

Reasons to avoid

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Unsuitable for toddlers 
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Lower magnification 

These days, National Geographic is more than just a bright yellow magazine. Much more, in fact. The iconic wildlife brand offers a variety of science-centric toys (err, tools) for kids, and their Dual LED Student Microscope is one of our top picks. 

In order for a tech toy to be considered STEM-friendly, it needs to encourage a higher level of education in four disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), and this microscope fills the bill. It comes bundled with over 50 accessories for learning, including 10 prepared nature slides, a petri dish, a mini geode, two sets of optical lenses (20X and 50X), and a comprehensive learning guide. Thanks to a pair of complementary LED lights, you can use this microscope to view slides or 3D objects with the flip of a switch. It's best for viewing internal cell structures, skin and tissue, rocks and minerals.

Like the AmScope microscope, this one comes with its own brine shrimp experiment, complete with shrimp eggs and a hatchery station. Your kid will be so engaged, they won’t realize they’re absorbing so much knowledge.


(Image credit: AmScope)
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OMAX MD82ES10 40X-2000X Digital LED Compound Microscope

A premium microscope with impressive 2000X magnification

Specifications

Age range: 10+
Microscope type: Compound / Digital
Max Magnification: 2000X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 16.5 x 11.7 x 7.7 inches
Weight: 7.3 pounds

Reasons to buy

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2000X magnification
+
1.3-MP camera

Reasons to avoid

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Carrying bag not included 

Is your kid a scientific prodigy? Then maybe you should give their lab an upgrade. For high-school students who are ready to take their experiments to the next (micro) level, the OMAX MD82ES10 40X-2000X Digital LED Compound Microscope looks as professional as its name sounds out loud. The swiveling binocular head has a built-in 1.3-megapixel USB camera that’s compatible with both Mac and Windows, allowing the microscope to take pictures and video clips of various projects. 

This digital microscope for kids offers eight LED-illuminated levels of magnification, from 40X to 2000X; there are two coaxial knobs for coarse and fine focusing, and the mechanical stage is easy to adjust. There’s also a sliding interpapillary distance adjustment, which means the microscope is customizable to virtually any face size. 

For the price, it would have been nice for OMAX to throw in a carrying case (opens in new tab) (though one is sold separately), but if you’re raising the next Doogie Howser, your child’s eyes will light up like an LED bulb when they see this microscope. This one is perfect for dissection experiments, internal cell structures, hair and skin tissue.

Best beginner microscopes

(Image credit: Educational Insights)
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Educational Insights Nancy B's Science Club Microscope

One of the best beginner microscopes for kids

Specifications

Age range: 8+
Microscope type: Compound
Max Magnification: 400X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 9.2 x 8.7 x 4.3 inches
Weight: 1.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

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 400X magnification
+
Activity journal included

Reasons to avoid

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Unsuitable for toddlers

The best microscopes for kids aren’t just standalone devices; they come bundled with all sorts of useful extras. Such is the case with the Educational Insights Nancy B's Science Club Microscope, another colorful option that gets consistently high user reviews. Genuine scientific research is all about data collection, and this microscope gets that ball rolling with a 22-page activity journal. 

Powered by two LED lights (and 3 AAA batteries), the microscope itself can achieve an impressive range of 30X to 400X magnification, which is perfect for getting up close and personal with all the rocks, plants and bugs your backyard has to offer. Let the specimen collection begin!


(Image credit: Omano)
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Omano JuniorScope

A quality microscope for kids that's bundled with fun experiments

Specifications

Age range: 8+
Microscope type: Stereo / Compound
Max Magnification: 400X
Carrying case included: No
Size: 14 x 9 x 6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds

Reasons to buy

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Experiment cards included
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Batteries included

Reasons to avoid

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More expensive than competitors

The Omano JuniorScope is a professional-looking 400X monocular microscope that’s a great gift for grade-schoolers. You'll find it most useful for plants, insects, rocks and minerals, hair and skin tissue. Constructed from glass, plastic and metal components, it’s heavier and more durable than many microscopes for kids. From examining rocks to marveling at miniscule plant cells, young students can use this fantastic LED-powered microscope to magnify nature in crystal clarity. 

The JuniorScope comes with batteries preinstalled, so it’s ready to use right out of the box. The microscope is also bundled with a variety of scientific tools (slides, tweezers, a dropper, petri dish, etc.) to aid students every step of the way.

Bonus: The microscope comes with five experiment cards ($18.99 value) to help your child learn how to use their new research equipment. 

How to choose the best microscopes for kids

Before introducing your family to the microscopic world of insects and plants, consider these factors:

Budget - Most kid-friendly microscopes have a price point of $50 or less, but there are plenty of premium picks that cost $75 or more. These days, you can get a cheap microscope for under $30; low-end models usually have weaker magnifications, cheaper build quality and fewer bundled accessories. (For preschool-level microscopes, however, weak magnification is actually preferred.)

Focus and magnification - For small, fidgety humans, overly powerful optics might actually be counterproductive. When it comes to your budding biologists, here's a rule of thumb: The younger the child, the lower the magnification. Magnifications between 5X and 400X are common recommendations for kids under the age of 10. For older investigators, consider microscopes with more powerful optics.

Note: Monocular microscopes work well up to 1000X, but for higher magnification levels, binocular microscopes are a necessary investment.

Size, shape and build quality - Look for sturdy build materials, such as aluminum alloy and heavy-duty plastics. If the microscope is for someone under the age of 10, you’ll probably want one that can take a little abuse. Some microscopes are specifically built for tiny fingers, while others can be used by explorers of all ages. For children under 5, look for extra kid-friendly features, like rounded edges, rubberized (shockproof) construction and padded eyepieces. 

High-power vs. low-power - Low-power (ie, “stereo”) microscopes are useful for viewing opaque objects (think rocks and coins); the light source is divided into two separate paths to produce a 3D view. High-power (ie, “compound”) microscopes are meant for viewing translucent materials such as plant cells or viral bacteria; there is only one light source to produce a flat-plane view. 

Light sources - All microscopes require a light source; the most common ones are LED, halogen and fluorescent. On account of their brightness and longevity, LED lights are pretty popular when it comes to microscope hardware. If your microscope uses multiple bulbs, check to see if it comes with any replacements; some bulbs are trickier to replace than others.  

Extra features and accessories - Some microscopes come with just the basics, but the best microscopes for kids include useful accessories, such as activity books, specimen slides, carrying cases, sample experiments and complementary science tools. 

Bailee Boggess McCoy is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on adoption, clinical research, geriatrics, psychology, culture, social work,  neuroscience and more. She has written for many health websites and publications, along with doing many ghostwriting projects and email campaigns. In addition to her work as a writer, she has worked as a researcher at an Alzheimer’s disease research facility with projects focusing on Black older adults and racial trauma. Her scientific research has been presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown College in 2018. She also studied neurolinguistics and developmental psychology at the University of Oxford. By the end of 2021, she will have her Master's in Social Work degree. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys playing with her dog, trying new cuisines, reading, and traveling. She’s also a true crime enthusiast, passionate creative, and a lover of all things poetry.

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