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 glasses come in two styles: pretty pink petals or the shimmy snake. Personally, I’d go for the snake for gender neutrality, but they’re constantly flying off the shelves, either way! The pretty petal one is still a great option for all those princesses who also want to be NASA scientists.
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 the 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.
Who ordered a two-for-one special? This two-pack of kids magnifying glasses comes with high praise from verified buyers. One reviewer raved, “My preschoolers are rough with their toys, but love magnifying glasses. Bugs, flowers, rocks, text, maps, the truck, the puppy — you name it, it has been examined with these little magnifiers and they don’t have a single scratch or blemish on them. I can say they are kid proof.”
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.
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.
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!)
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.)
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. And then they can graduate to having a big boy/girl lens!
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.
This 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!
Finally, we come to what’s probably the cutest magnifying glass ever. The seller, TreeFortToys will engrave the wooden handle with your child’s name or a memorable, thematic word like “explore.” Then you can also pick from a series of different nature-themed illustrations to end with a flourish. Perfect for a family with multiple kids who all want their own toys.