Fun microscope experiments for children #2

Fun and easy microscope experiments for kids #2

There’s no better way for young minds to learn about the world around them than with some fun and accessible microscope experiments.

With these simple experiments, you and your kids can embark on an educational journey from the comfort of your own backyard.


Spiderwebs can make a beautiful silvery addition to your garden, even if they are the cause of many an impromptu dance routine when discovered accidentally!

These natural works of art are made with an incredibly strong and sticky silk that your child will find very interesting under a microscope.

What you’ll need

  • Glass slides
  • Coverslips
  • Clear/colourless nail polish
  • Spiderweb (dry)
  • Toothpick


  1. The first thing to do is find a spiderweb in your garden (or around the house). Fresher is better but any type will do in a pinch. Webs are one thing but be extra careful when dealing with an actual spider – protect yourself and don’t harm a spider just for this experiment! 
  1. Take a fresh glass slide and cover the middle area with a thin layer of clear nail polish.
  1. Let it dry for minute or two, until it’s no longer completely wet but still sticky.
  1. Gently push the sticky side of the slide into a section of the web that you’d like to look at.
  1. Slowly pull the slide back towards you with the spiderweb attached, then detach the rest of the web using a toothpick or stick. With any luck you’ll have a nice sample of spiderweb stuck to the nail polish on your slide.
  1. Pop a coverslip on top of your spiderweb sample.
  1. Observe your new specimen under your microscope.

Cheek cells

It’s always fun for kids to see parts of themselves. A simple and accessible experiment is to take a painless swab of their cheek cells and view them under the microscope.

This experiment is even more interesting because it requires the use of a microscope stain to better see the cell parts.

What you’ll need

  • Cotton swab or toothpick
  • Methylene blue (a very cheap and easy to find stain*)
  • Glass slides
  • Coverslips
  • Gloves
  • A willing cheek

* Caution – methylene blue will stain clothes and hands, so take care not to spill it. Use gloves if you can. If young children are involved, make sure they don’t drink it, because it is toxic if ingested.


  1. Take your swab (or toothpick) and scrape it along the inside of the cheek of your ‘victim’.
  1. Wipe the swab on the centre of a clean glass slide.
  1. Add a drop of methylene blue to the cells on the slide.
  1. Gently lower a coverslip onto the stained cells.
  1. Put your slide under the microscope and view your check cells.

Sometimes the cells are too clumped together to get a good look at them. If this happens to you, start over with a fresh slide and some new cheek cells.

But this time, before you stain them, place one edge of a coverslip on the slide at the edge of the cells and drag it across the whole sample to ‘smear’ the cells. This helps to spread out the cells in a thin layer so they’re easier to see when you apply the stain.

Yoghurt bacteria

Bacteria are all around us but we rarely, if ever, get to see them. Your child will find this bacteria hunt an amazing experience. It involves a tiny sample of yoghurt (and a bonus is you get to eat the rest of the tub!).

What you’ll need

  • Yoghurt with a live, active culture
  • Cotton swab/toothpick
  • Glass slides
  • Coverslips
  • Water
  • Dropper
  • Microscope with 400x to 1000x magnification


  1. Use your swab or toothpick to get a very small sample of yoghurt. The thin liquid on top of the yoghurt can often work well.
  1. Spread out the sample across the middle of your glass slide.
  1. Add a small drop of water to the sample.
  1. Gently place a coverslip over the sample and place it under your microscope.
  1. Using the lower magnifications, find a part of the slide where the sample has thinned out.
  1. Use 400x or 1000x magnification to get a look at the very tiny bacteria living in your yoghurt. Can you see both round (spherical) and rod-shaped bacteria? You’ll often find them in pairs or chains.

Be prepared for your child to ask what other foods have bacteria living in them!

[Link to Fun microscope experiments for children #1]

Previous article Ice crystals under the microscope
Next article Fun microscope experiments for children #1