Kids Microscope Buying Guide: What to Consider Before You Buy

According to the CDC, "although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first eight years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success." 

STEM toys open your kids' eyes to the wonder of the scientific and natural world, promoting cognitive development — while also giving them hours of fun and engagement. 

Microscopes are among the best gifts you can buy your kids for their mental development. Microscopes for kids by AmScope aren't just toys. They're fully functional scientific products that are designed according to the same standards as microscopes for adults. They're sure to open your child's eyes to the many wonders of the natural world.

Microscopes: Making the Natural World Exciting

Microscopes are more than just learning toys. They allow you and your children to take a thrilling closer look at the world around you. You probably have fond memories of using a microscope as a kid to take closer looks at natural objects. But there are many different kinds of microscopes to choose from. Since these aren't just run-of-the-mill educational toys, maybe you're wondering where to start?

The best place to start is with your child's interests. 

The three most popular kinds of microscopes are: 

  • Compound
  • Stereo
  • Digital Handheld

Let's take a closer look and see how each relates to different kinds of interests and curiosity. 

Compound Microscopes

Compound microscopes are likely the ones you have in mind when you hear the word "microscope." They're called compounds because they have two lenses that magnify samples and are particularly suited for magnifying biological specimens. 

Some classic compound microscope activities include taking closer looks at:

  • Butterfly wings
  • Drops of blood
  • Leaves
  • Common substances like salt, sugar, and orange juice (which all look spectacular when magnified!)

So if your child has a fascination with plants, insects, biology, or looking at tiny things, a compound microscope is the way to go. Compound microscopes by AmScope can magnify anywhere from 40X-1000X, offering a radical and exciting new perspective on the hitherto-invisible world.

Stereo Microscopes

Stereo microscopes are best for looking at solid objects, like rocks, coins, stamps, and soldering or electric components. Most stereo microscopes come with two eyepieces and a separate objective lens. They light the object you're studying from both top and bottom (often with a nice clear LED light) and can be used to view either transparent or opaque objects.

If your child's most interested in getting a closer look at solid objects, like the surface of a penny, the striations on a chunk of marble, or the weave of a piece of fabric, a stereo microscope would be the best choice. Stereo microscope magnification is less than compound ones, usually between 20X and 80X.

Portable Handheld Microscopes

As implied by their name, portable handheld microscopes are handy, smaller, and most convenient for field trips and excursions into the wild. If your child is a junior explorer and loves going hunting for fossils, rocks, or shells, a portable handheld microscope is a wonderful way of exploring the natural world while you're out there in it. 

AmScope's portable handheld microscopes send real-time video to your computer via USB and provide wonderfully crisp, clear images thanks to eight built-in LED lights. It can be held by hand or placed on a stand for easy viewing, whether an experiment you set up to monitor over time or a fossil you've picked up in a riverbed and immediately want to look at more closely. They can magnify from 10X to 200X with the help of your computer.

Microscopes by Age

Children develop different interests as they grow. All AmScope kids' microscopes are child-friendly and well-designed, but they are also tailored specifically to different age groups. 

Microscopes for the Youngest Explorers

The bulk of children's important brain development happens primarily in the first five years and then before the age of eleven. In the words of the First Five Years Fund, "brains are built and grow through touch, talk, sight, and sound in early childhood experiences." 

AmScope's microscopes for kids four to eight are geared toward creating tactile learning experiences that increase kids' passion for the world around them and help their brains grow. 

They emphasize ease of use, kid-friendly software (that runs with Windows or Mac), and sturdiness of materials to maximize focus and minimize frustration or broken equipment.

While these microscopes are made with the needs of young kids in mind, they still come with great features such as: 

  • High-resolution cameras
  • Portable cases
  • Powerful magnification (120x-1200x)

They also come with many fun experiment ideas, perfect for keeping your kids occupied.

Even when choosing a microscope by age, you can still include your child's specific interests. You may want to consider the Deluxe Insect Exploration Kit, which includes a 52+ piece introductory portable microscope kit and a delightful 96-page full-color book from National Geographic Kids, designed to boost your child's reading skills and appreciation of the natural world. The kit highlights fascinating insects like dragonflies, butterflies, mosquitos, and honeybees.

Microscopes for Middle Schoolers

AmScope's microscopes for middle schoolers involve a bit more complexity and design sophistication. The available models include the 2018 award winner for the "Best Students and Kids Microscope Kit." It comes with a great book, The World of the Microscope, designed to further open up a world of possibility to your middle schooler. It's also sturdy, comes with a 10-piece slide kit (five prepared biological specimens and five blank ones) and powerful magnification, from 40X to 1000X.

Similarly, this all-in-one kit comes in a handy carry case, with a petri dish your child could use for bacterial culture, a shrimp hatchery so your middle schooler can watch every stage of a shrimp's development under magnification, and ample materials to make their own slides, encouraging them to take a bigger interest in the natural world with more autonomy and imagination. 

Microscopes for High Schoolers

Once your child gets to high school, they may be thinking seriously about pursuing STEM in college or as a career — or at the very least, they need to do coursework for school biology or science classes (good job getting them intrigued early on with all those microscopes you bought for them). 

AmScope's microscopes geared toward high schoolers are made with those more advanced requirements in mind. They're powerful and sophisticated — but also allow for plenty of fun. They include an expanded magnification range from 40X to 2500X. They pack many professional features into easy-to-use packages without sacrificing precision viewing. 

They are also user-friendly: this 40X-2500X LED Lab Binocular Compound Microscope w/ 3D Stage allows for precise magnification but is also designed to minimize neck strain. It can be used to study fixed or live cells, bacteria, hair follicles, plants, soil, or water samples. It has additional 25X eyepieces and features great color accuracy and resolution. 

This awesome compound microscope option lets you capture photos and videos you can stream to your computer and use professional microscopy software (compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux) to process and study further. The features allowed by this professional software are capture and photo-editing functions as: 

  • Color correction
  • Time-lapse capture
  • Image stitching 
  • Measuring tools

There's also a lite version of the software if you don't want to get that in-depth.

Microscopes for College-Aged Students

Pat yourself on the back if your child made it to college and they're ready for one of AmScope's dazzling professional microscopes for undergraduate students. The compound models magnify from 40X to 1000X, and the stereo models magnify from 7X to 45X-90X.

Portable digital models like this one offer 0.7X-5X zoom capability. It also has a high-definition 1080p HDMI camera, a 07X-5X zoom C-mount lens, with a 96-LED ring-light for illumination. All these tech specs mean a beautifully sharp and highly-detailed image, ideal for industrial or biological samples.

All of AmScope's microscopes for college students come with the features you'd expect: high-quality optics, outstanding illumination, and excellent mechanical components. They're good for a range of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, biology, botany, and more. Many have USB ports for easy sharing, streaming, or image capture storage.

Whichever AmScope microscope you choose for your college student, the entire range is designed to be of the highest caliber.

Other Considerations When Buying A Microscope


Gone are the days when microscopes were purely analog tools. Now, your child can stream their scientific findings online and share their findings with fellow junior scientists. AmScope's New Kid-Friendly Software makes it fun and straightforward for your child to use camera software. The IQCrew is just one Amscope kids' microscope with digital capabilities and software. 


No matter the age of your young scientist, you want your microscope to last. All of AmScope's microscopes come with a five-year warranty. They're built to last and provide years' worth of illumination.


This isn't as important to kids' microscopes as professional scientists' (don't tell your kids that) but rest assured that all of AmScope's range provides powerful perspective-shifting magnification.


It's critical to have sufficient illumination for your subject to show up properly. This holds especially true for stereo microscopes. All AmScope's microscopes come with sufficiently powerful illumination to keep your young learner captivated, and some (like these high-power microscopes) provide a lot of light to better view tiny samples.


Just like with glasses, quality optics affect the clarity and resolution of the sample you're putting under the microscope. AmScope microscopes are made with precision optics — even models for your youngest learners, like this one.


Accessories can make microscopes even more fun, allowing for a microscope to keep surprising your child with its capabilities. AmScope Accessories can include:

  • Blank slides so that children can make their own slides
  • Prepared slides, complete with cool specimens
  • Digital cameras
  • Tweezers to help grasp specimens and place them on slides
  • Books to shed light on the phenomena witnessed
  • Boom stands to change your microscope's perspective and height
  • Preparation kits and more

Accessories also allow the microscope to grow with your child's changing interests. Their interest in insects might give way to an interest in their own inner workings. You're giving them the gift to pursue their own interests and curiosity, and that is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give. 

Preparing slides is an educational and fun activity in itself. Methodical prep before examining samples under the microscope keeps your child wondering about the crucial processes of life that are usually invisible to the naked eye. 

You don't have to seek out accessories separately, though (at least at first). AmScope's excellent activity kits and premade bundles give young learners everything they need for hours of education and enjoyment. 

AmScope's bundles offer outstanding value and are available for introductory, pro, and expert levels. 

As mentioned above, many AmScope microscopes come complete with digital cameras, as in these digital integrated models. They can also be modified with digital camera adapters. These digital camera capacities are easy to master, allow kids to share their observations of the natural world with friends and family, and even be compatible with video-sharing apps. It's a great way of bringing a wonderful pastime into the present.

Microscopes: A World of Wonder and Thrills

Beautifully designed, durable, and kitted out with an array of cool extensions and accessories, AmScope microscopes offer excellent gifts that will expand your children's interests and expand their intellectual potential.

AmScope makes fantastic STEM tools for young minds and offers an easy purchasing experience, with a simple 30-day return policy. If you're still wondering how to find the best microscope for your young learner, you can take a look at this handy guide to holiday microscope gifts or reach out to one of AmScope's specialists on 1-888-950-2888, who would be delighted to help you make a choice.