Why You Should Buy a Microscope for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again. Winter has almost fallen, the cold has settled in, and us mad scientists are busy trying to see if we can create the ultimate source of sustainable energy to keep us perpetually warm throughout the Winter.

Okay, that might never happen, but it’s worth a try, right?

Meanwhile, the stores are all full with shoppers looking for just the right gifts for their loved ones. And more than any other store, toy stores are packed to the brim with parents searching for the best deals on kids toys for the holidays. But what toys make the best gifts for little ones?

Lots of toys claim to provide hours of fun and entertainment for your kids, but what are they really doing for their well being? At most, toys like dolls and blocks encourage the use of imagination, and don’t get us wrong, fellow mad scientists; the imagination is a beautiful thing! But educational toys, like books, hobby kits, and—you guessed it—microscopes, really help children to learn while having fun! After all, according to the National Science Teachers Association, it’s important that “parents and children value science learning and recognize the tremendous opportunities that can arise from being more scientifically and technologically literate” (NSTA).

One of the biggest ways educational toys can help children is by developing problem solving skills. By accomplishing simple tasks, like grouping similar objects or rearranging different shapes to make them all fit, the child is learning how to create order out of chaos, how to take a wrong situation and make it right. In science terms, this might mean viewing a rotten piece of fruit under a microscope and being able to determine where the bad section is, as well as what caused it. And in case you’re worried about giving a microscope to a child, here are 5 misconceptions about kid’s microscopes.

Child at an elementary school

Many educational toys also develop language and vocabulary skills. Even if the toy isn’t focused directly on teaching new words or a new language, they can often have a similar effect simply by exposing the child to new and different ways of thinking. A science kit, for example, might use technical terms like “microscope” or “centrifuge,” and may even include more obscure and complex words like “analyze,” “hypothesis,” or “cellular.” When used in context, it helps the child to learn what they mean, even without a written definition.

Because a lot of educational toys deal with the manipulation of tiny objects, they can even improve a child’s fine motor skills. When using a microscope, children have to learn to position a slide properly and adjust the viewing knobs to just the right zoom and focus in order to see the object they’re looking at. By doing this repeatedly, they develop the skills to control their movements on a very small scale.

As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to buy an educational toy like a microscope for the holidays. Microscopes and similar toys go a long way in helping a child to grow and develop in a lot of important ways. Do you have any favorite educational toys that you received as a child, or are planning to buy for a child this year? If so, let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Science Hub for plenty more great information.

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