What is a Microscope?
A microscope is one of those things homeschool moms dream about purchasing! I know I did for a long time before we finally bit the bullet. It’s an expensive purchase and one you will need to make before your kids get to Freshman Biology. However, if you can afford a microscope, they are so much fun to have before science class dictates the purchase.
Let’s talk about ten fun ways to use a microscope in your homeschool before high school and you will see what I mean.
Purchasing a Microscope for your Homeschool
The two basic things you need to consider when looking at microscopes for your homeschool are magnification and affordability. You can get into details like glass quality and mechanical quality as well, just to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
Here are two affordable microscopes.
- Discovery Scope. It’s not a table microscope but it also is not a magnifying glass. With 25X magnification, you can have a lot of fun! I’ve written about how to use this fun portable microscope and how you can take it with you to the pond, hands-on museum, or anywhere you want to find scopable things. Cost is $40.
- OMAX Microscope with camera. (Hint: enter to win this scope at the end of the post.) It has 40X to 3500X magnification and connects to your computer for instant fun. Properly cared for, it will last until your little ones are in college. Cost is $240.
Ten Fun Ways to Use a Microscope in your Homeschool before High School
1. Start simple. Have your kids get a human hair from one of your hair brushes. Or, if they are like my boys, they will just pull one out of their heads. Use this as an introduction to how your microscope works. Help your children zoom in and out and refine the focus to see that hair at 3500X magnification. That will spark some conversation, and probably inspire them to find more stuff to look at in the microscope!
2. Study plant parts. Leaves, stamens, and even pollen can be collected, smashed between two slides, and studied in great detail. Flat items can even be used without slides.
3. Collect samples from your fridge. Find the stuff in the bottom of your produce drawer, or spilled liquids, to place between slides. Get some milk or orange juice on a slide. Or slice onions, cucumbers, radish, turnips, zucchini, and even bananas and take a look.
4. Collect water samples. You can grab water samples from your tap water, filtered water, a local pond, and a running fresh water source such as a stream or creek. If you are near the ocean, collect some salt water too! You could even collect a drop or two of water from your fish tank. Place a drop of each between two slides, and label them as you go so you remember what you are looking at. Study the differences and see what you can find.
5. Grow some mold and take a look. Place a couple pieces of bread in a baggie and place it in a dark area until mold starts to grow. Remove some of the mold and place it between two slides to examine.
6. Compare mucus. Place a drop of mucus from a human mouth or nose (or one of each) between two slides and examine. Bonus points if you have a cold. Also, if you have a pet, collect a mucus sample from your pet and compare. Gross – but very cool.
7. Look for microorganisms in your home. Collect dust samples, cobweb samples, and maybe even collect a sample from your mattress by vacuuming into a clean canister. Gross again, but very revealing too!
8. Study blood cells. A volunteer will need to prick his finger and swipe some blood between two slides. Or you can all take turns if everyone is game.
9. Get some bug parts under the glass. Bugs are so fascinating – and you can find lots of parts to look at! Bugs like to hang out under rocks or flower pots. Spiders, wasps, or bees also make interesting specimens and most of us don’t mind smashing one or two in the name of science.
10. Salt, pepper, and spices. You will be amazed how these simple little specks look different under a microscope.
Don’t forget to take pictures or connect your microscope to your computer so everyone can join in the fun!
Draw what you see. Young students will love drawing what they see in the microscope and then showing it to everyone later. Basic things can become monsters and dragons under the microscope! This is good practice for biology labs later.
Science your Kids will Talk About
What if you could find a science curriculum your kids would talk about during after-school hours? “Mom, shelf mushrooms!” exclaimed on a hike (followed by a long pause in the hike while pictures were taken). “Mom, did you know that dolphins are technically whales?” “Mom, mom, mom, your body functions a lot like a city and your bloodstream is the roads and your brain is the headquarters.”
My kids get this way over Apologia science. I’m amazed at the information they retain weeks, months, and sometimes even years later. My youngest daughter actually came to me last week asking for more science textbooks to read for fun this summer! She is currently reading Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright.
Ruth O says
My girls loooove astronomy.
Joyce McGuire says
My son loved the apologia biology. He often “hinted” that we needed a camera to see all the neat things he discovered in our borrowed microscope.
We will see what the girls think when they start biology soon.
valerie fletcher says
My fave science topic is CHEMISTRY! Love it…..all the experiments and we watch a zillion YouTube videos on super cool stuff!
Carissa Bohley says
My daughter is really into microbiology. She has been saving up her money to buy a microscope and finally has enough. She would be thrilled if we won this giveaway!
Kristina Brown says
I love to teach all things science, but my heart really loves biology and anatomy/physiology.
Amy Mac says
Genetics is my favorite science to teach
My favorite science topic to teach is physics!
Karen I. says
My boys enjoy chemistry and biology.
Teresa Locklear says
I’ve found I enjoy dissection much more than I ever did while in school.
jessica brewster says
We love ALL science. It is our favorite subject, which I love because it as always mine. If I HAD to pick one it would be Zoology.
I love teaching kitchen chemistry.
Kyra cook says
Definitely astronomy so far!
Rebecca Kayser says
I love anatomy!
Lisa Coomer Queen says
My favorite thing to teach is biology. Thanks!
I love teaching about plants!
Lori Vissers says
Sara Lehman says
My kids love nature and animals so Zoology is out favorite
Paige L. says
I love teaching astronomy! It’s such a fascinating topic, and my kids are extremely eager to learn about space, as well.
I love Anatomy!
heather Smith says
Alexandra PJ says
We are only going into our second year of science study, but it is my daughter’s favorite subject!
My favorite science subject to teach is either physics or astronomy.
Anything dealing with chemistry is my favorite science project to teach.
My son is interested in molecular physics and my daughter in biology. It sounds like this microscope would be an asset to our learning!
I have not taught science well to my kiddos and just tried let them/made them do science workbooks on their own.
Kelly Utkin says
I enjoy teaching Biology and Chemistry.
Sarah Pickering says
I love teaching all science it’s always been a favorite subject of mine, I think my daughter enjoys kitchen chemistry, biology, astronomy and botany the most currently.
Deanna Harrison says
I like teaching biology.
We are currently loving apologia astronomy
I really am not sure. Anatomy was interesting but so was Astronomy.
Anatomy – How God created all the unique details for each of our system of our human body to work independently and together is just amazing!
Our family favorites are zoology and anatomy/physiology!
Astrology and Biology 🙂
Karen Mahler says
Science has been a week area in our schooling, but I love it. What an awesome opportunity with the giveaway! Thank you!
Becky Clark says
My middle son is fascinated by what he sees in a microscope. He tries to put everything he can find in there. We are planning to study biology this year, so this would be an answer to prayer.
Susan Campbell says
Exploring Creation with the Human Body by Apologia is my favorite so far.
Cheryn Rene Preiss says
Favorite Science to teach…. That’s a tough choice! We really loved Astronomy and took 2 years to complete Apologia’s program. We dug deep and rabbit trailed a lot! I’m looking forward to Botany, as my girls already have an interest in plants. I’m intimidated with Chemistry so when an opportunity arises I point out how amazing a chemical reaction is. The kids LOVE microscopes at the museum & zoo, as well as using our magnifying glass here at home.
Angela Roosevelt says
I need all the help I can get when it comes to science! 😉
Leah Muller says
We were just taking pictures of beetles this morning, so this would be perfect!
My favorite science subject to teach, and learn about, is biology!
Jennifer Atchley White says
We love nature and biology!
Jessica Mohnkern says
I love teaching Biology!!
This is absolutely fantastic. My stepson loves science related stuff and my toddler is just starting to explore nature.
Danielle Hull says
I love anatomy! So many hands-on ideas with the younger kids.
Jill Miller says
Kathryn Henry says
We love Apologia! So appreciate being able to present science through a correct perspective. God is our Awesome Creator & Designer.
Anatomy and biology are household favorites 🙂
I love any kind of biology!
Heather Austin says
The kids love any type of science but their absolute favorite would have to be biology.
Nicole M. says
Oooh….that’s tough. I’ve enjoyed teaching and learning (lots of science subjects) along with my kids..my favs: Astronomy, Land Animals, and Chemistry.
Gwen @ ButtercupsBabies.com says
Biology (animals) is probably our kids general favorite, although we just realy enjoyed taking advantage of my dad’s amateur geology hobby to have him help teach my kids about geology & the rock cycle. Its been fun to point out sedimentary rocks & mountain ranges on our summer travels since!
Mandy W says
My background is in chemistry, so I love to teach that to my kids. Love their faces when they see things react!