The Best Magnifying Glasses For Your Mini Sherlock Holmes

These are absolutely magnify-cent.

by Hillary Swetz
Originally Published: 
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

As a former teacher, I love watching kids turn into mad scientists with just a few hands-on tools. My personal favorite is the humble kid’s magnifying glass, but there are so many options to help your child become a STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math) expert. You can try offering them a microscope to see cells and microbes close up, or a pair of binoculars to catch a glimpse of their first endangered species.

A magnifying glass, however, is often a small child’s first introduction to the unseen world around them. Stick one in the hands of a toddler and you’ll have to drag them back inside after hours of exploring. Bugs, grass, bark, and even the inside of a sibling’s nose become way more interesting when viewed close up. (Though obviously, kids are interested in big things too, like the whole galaxy.)

Of course, magnifying glasses are also useful for things besides STEM experiments and exploration. Perhaps your child is a CSI obsessive? Are they looking to dress up as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween? Clearly, there’s at least a dozen reasons your kid needs a magnifying glass to do their job properly.

Best Magnifying Glasses For Kids

First up, the queen and king of kids’ toys: Melissa & Doug! I know, everyone’s a fan of this brand. Who can blame us? They put out such high-quality stuff without being ridiculously expensive. Their magnifying glass is extra special, and perfect for examining leaves, flowers, and trees in the springtime. While magnifying glasses are good for all ages, this would make an especially good gift for a child up to the age of six.

One Reviewer Wrote: “Bought this as a gift for my inquisitive niece who loves exploring plants and bugs in her backyard. She loves it. Just right for a four-and-a-half-year-old!”

This kid’s magnifying glass comes with a bonus addition: a whistle! Some parents might be into this, either to expose their kids to music or for use in emergencies. Others might prefer to give this as a gift to the child of that annoying PTO mom. Your call. Seriously though, this magnifying glass set is one of my favorites. It’s made with sustainable materials, including plastics. (Green PE is a plant-based plastic derived from sugarcane.) It also has that wooden aesthetic we’re all kinda crazy about right now. And if your child is the type to lose things easily, there are handy straps attached to the base of both items to make them wearable.

One Reviewer Wrote: “This has been such a hit with my two-year-old. We primarily use it outside at parks or on trails, but it has even helped to occupy him while waiting in a doctor's office. It's the perfect size and shape for chubby little fingers, so much easier to hold onto than a traditionally shaped magnifying glass. Ours has gotten wet with no issues.”

Who ordered a two-for-one special? This two-pack of kids magnifying glasses comes with high praise from verified buyers. The big draw for this set of magnifying glasses is the shatterproof lens. I always get nervous handing my toddler anything made of glass, but wouldn’t bat an eye at this. In fact, this magnifying glass is rated for ages 3 and up. So feel free to let them have fun with this tool, but be prepared to be a little grossed out when they discover what’s REALLY in your carpet.

One Reviewer Wrote: “I bought these magnifying glasses for my daughter to use in her homeschool science class. They work great and are well-made. They are easy for her to use and she loves using them to look at different things. So far she’s used them to look at salt and sugar crystals to determine their shape and to look at grains of sand.”

This is a super sweet, simple magnifying glass for the youngest explorers. It’s rated safe for children 18 months and up and has a sturdy handle for those chubby fingers to wrap around perfectly. Children this age love to spend all day exploring their world, and this magnifying glass helps them see everything up close.

One Reviewer Said: “Cute instructional toy! It is oversized which makes it easy to see things much larger. Great for any age from 3 to 100! Lots of fun especially outside!”

You know how I mentioned Sherlock Holmes costumes before? This, specifically, is the magnifying glass for that. It’s got that great, old-timey feel to it without commanding the price of an actual antique. All you need to complete the ensemble is a deerstalker hat and a fake British accent saying, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The best part is that this magnifying glass isn’t just a nice costume accent. It actually works to magnify. So if your child wants to go solve the mystery of who stole all their Halloween candy, all they have to do is look closely and follow the trail of chocolate fingerprints. (Shhh, it leads to me. Don’t tell them!)

One Reviewer Wrote: “Great for my kids to use to go exploring in our backyard. Good size, and comes with a small bag for storage.”

Are you big into the Montessori vibe? I’ve got you covered, too. This magnifying glass isn’t shaped like the ones you’re used to but instead has two handles on either side of the glass. This makes it ideal for small children who might not yet have the coordination to hold a single handle with both hands. (Pretty sure if I gave this to my two-year-old, she’d be running around with it pressed up to her nose.)

One Reviewer Wrote: “My 28-month-old loves this and makes exploration that much more fun whether we are in the garden or on a hike. I definitely recommend this and have shown friends whom also got it for their kiddos who adore it as well. Can add lanyard and fit in kids' backpacks easily.”

There are a few reasons you might need a whole set of magnifying glasses. Maybe you’re having a birthday party and need favors. Maybe you run a daycare. Or maybe you recently had a set of 6 multiple kids! (Unlikely, I know. But maybe Octomom reads Scary Mommy?) Regardless, these are the magnifying glasses for all your multiple needs. Especially if the kid who needs them is on the smaller side and rather destructive. Because these are made of plastic, not glass, they’re lightweight and will hold up to plenty of banging. You could say they’re the best option for kids to get used to magnifying glasses, like science-y training wheels.

One Reviewer Wrote: “Actually magnifies and sturdy enough for my two-year-old. I'm surprised she hasn't managed to break it yet. We gave these away as party favors for her birthday. They were bigger and better quality than expected.”

Is your kid going through a phase where they don’t want stuff that looks “too kiddy?” Here’s the magnifying glass for them. Let your kid feel like a real, proper, grown-up scientist! This tool has no color, cartoon characters, or hint of the playground about it. In addition to looking quite professional, it’s got a built-in LED light for nighttime bug safaris or exploring long past bedtime.

One Reviewer Wrote: “I purchased one in March for my four-year-old grandson’s birthday. He likes to look at bugs up close. It’s lightweight yet sturdy for active kids. The light is a bonus. My three-year-old granddaughter wanted a magnifying glass after seeing how much her cousin enjoyed his. The grandkids were pleased with my purchase. Me too.”

This magnified bug catcher is for all the creepy-crawly lovers out there. Is your kid always bringing home critters and wanting to keep them? This might satisfy their urge without turning your home into a permanent bug zoo. This bug magnifier has two different lens strengths, so your kids can check out their bug prisoner at 3x and 8x what the eye can normally see. In my opinion, the best part is the relatively small size. At a roughly 3”x3” size, your tot won’t be able to catch anything larger than a goldfish to look at. No trapped squirrels in your house!

One Reviewer Wrote: “My 3.5-year-old granddaughter lost the bug catcher that came with a nature kit. This was a suitable replacement and I’m told it’s more durable than the one she lost. We’ve caught spiders, ants, crickets, and several other bugs in the yard and the built-in magnifier lets you look at the critters closely. Very entertaining and educational.”

This article was originally published on