If you’ve got a curious child who’s in to exploring science, nature and more, then sports optics make for the perfect gift for them. Whilst it’s unlikely that your very young children will need a specialised targeting scope like a riflescope or air riflescope, they’d get hours of fun and interest from kids optical equipment such as a telescope, binoculars, magnifier, microscope or spotting scope. Indeed, most of our sports optics will be valuable tools for kids to learn about and explore the world around them. Let’s take a look at some of our most popular kids optics and consider which features are most important for you to look out for when choosing the right children’s optics.
Choosing Binoculars for Kids
Binoculars offer a great solution for viewing distant objects in more detail and seeing the world around you more clearly. Binoculars are a great child scope option as they're relatively compact and light optics that are portable and easy for small hands to carry around.
Why Are They Useful?
Binoculars are an ideal scope for kids who love looking at birds, views, trains, cars and more. Indeed whenever a child spots something of interest from a distance, binoculars will allow them to get a closer view. Whether your child is out hiking in the hills, at the beach looking out to sea, or simply looking out of the window from your home, binoculars are an incredibly handy way to expand their knowledge of what they see by allowing them to see it in more detail, and they can be a great educational tool that promotes exploration and more.
Features to Consider
When it comes to choosing binoculars for kids there’s a few special features that it’s important to keep in mind to ensure that they’re as easy and as comfortable as possible for kids to use.
- Size and weight – Due to kids having small hands and faces, it’s important to choose binoculars that are compact or mid sized. This means choosing binoculars with lenses that are between 20-35mm in diameter so that they’re not too cumbersome to carry or hold to the face for a period of time. These binoculars are typically the lightest weight binoculars on the market but it’s always good to check out how much they weigh and choose the lightest model possible.
- IPD – IPD, or inter pupillary distance refers to the distance between the two barrels or eyepieces of a binocular depending on how you have adjusted them. Interpupillary distance is measured in mm and is shown as a range, with the measurement changing depending on how closely you have moved the barrels together and how large the objective lenses are. For example an IPD from 53mm to 73mm would mean that the closest that the eyepieces can be together is 53mm and the largest is 73mm. IPD is particularly important for children as their small faces mean that their eyes are closer together than an adult. A good idea is to measure the distance between your child's eyes and then try and find some binoculars with an IPD that would fit this. Typically, compact and mid sized binoculars will have an IPD that’s suitable.
- Magnification – Children’s hands aren’t always the most stable, especially if they’re trying to hold binoculars up to their face to view something. Highly magnified images can become very blurry even with the slightest of hand movement, so it’s best to opt for binoculars with a lower magnification for kids. Ideally, 7x or 8x magnification will work best.
- Durability – When it comes to optics, it’s important to get the very best quality you can afford so that they produce the best images possible and are as durable as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to binoculars for kids as they’ll likely get dropped, thrown around and more! We understand that you likely don’t want to spend the earth, but choosing some compact or midsized binoculars that are aimed at adults will offer much more durability than some of our lower end, toy kids binoculars. Look for binoculars that are rubber armoured and waterproof if possible. It’s worth investing in them once rather than having to buy multiple sets. And if your kids get bored you’ll have some perfectly good quality binoculars that will be great for the adults in the family to use too!
We've got an in depth buying guide for kids binoculars too. Check it our here.
Choosing Spotting Scopes for Kids
Considered to be a bit like extra large, one barrelled binoculars, spotting scopes have a zoom magnification and sit on top of a tripod. They offer much higher magnification ranges then binoculars so are ideal for seeing distant objects in detail. They’re mainly used by bird watchers, hunters or people who want to enjoy views and are best suited to adults due to their size and difficulty to focus. Due to this, we wouldn’t usually suggest a spotting scope as the first scope kids should have, however there’s no reason that they can’t use one with some adult help. So if your kids are on the slightly older side, from around 10 and up, then a spotting scope would be a great option for the whole family to use together.
Why Are They Useful?
Spotting scopes are great for scanning the landscape for animals or bird life. So if your child is interested in hunting or bird watching and you plan to take them along on your next adventure, then they too will be able to use the spotting scope to help you with this. In addition, one very popular use of spotting scopes in cities and other urban areas is to enjoy views from homes. Houses with sea or mountain views, or indeed any spectacular view will be a great home for a spotting scope so the whole family can scan the view and then zoom in on a boat, surfer, lighthouse, car, or basically anything of interest. In these situations, a spotting scope helps to provide kids with a great amount of knowledge about the area surrounding their homes.
Features to Consider
When it comes to choosing scopes kids will love to use on their own with no help, then unfortunately a spotting scope isn’t right on top of the list. But there’s no reason that they can’t use one with a bit of adult support. In this section we’ll consider some of the features to keep in mind when buying an adult spotting scope that kids will be able to use too.
- Size and weight – Spotting scopes will pretty much always be large and need to be used with a tripod. With this in mind, there’s no need to purchase a scope that’s small and compact just for a child to use. Buy a normal sized spotting scope such as one with a 60mm or 80mm lens and make sure it’s mounted on a sturdy tripod.
- Tripod Compatibility – All good spotting scopes can easily be fitted to a tripod via a 1/4 inch connector plate which comes with the spotting scope. Some of the lower end spotting scopes come with a table top tripod which is great to get started with however we’d always suggest investing in a full height tripod that is as sturdy as possible if you plan to use with it kids. If you’re going to be using the spotting scope on the move whilst birding or hunting then a tripod that’s as lightweight as possible to make it easy to transport is important too. If you plan on having the spotting scope positioned to enjoy views from the home and you have kids, then the most important factor is the strength and pay load weight of the tripod so you can reduce the chance of it getting knocked over.
- Angled vs Straight Eyepiece – Spotting scopes come in two configurations; with an angled eyepiece you look down in to, or with one that you look straight through. If you’ll be sharing the spotting scope with other members of your family including children then an angled model will be the easiest for everyone to use. As children are shorter than adults they’ll likely need a chair to stand on to use the spotting scope.
- Magnification – Unlike binoculars, spotting scopes are pretty much always mounted on a tripod, so there’s no need to worry about a child’s hands causing image shake. Choose a spotting scope that’s best suited to your application rather than the user. For most activities we’d suggest a magnification of 20-60x
- Durability – One of the key factors when choosing a spotting scope that will be used by kids as well as adults is opting for a scope that’s durable and can withstand some bumps and scrapes. Opt for a spotting scope with a rubber armour and pick a tripod that’s as sturdy as possible.
If you want to choose a spotting scope for the whole family but you're not sure where to start then our hand spotting scope buying guide will be a great place to start.
Choosing Microscopes for Kids
Microscopes are pieces of optical equipment that allow you to see specimens that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Depending on the magnification you may be able to see them in varying levels of magnification.
Traditional biological microscopes are commonly found in school science labs where they’re used by students at primary and secondary levels. If you home school your child then having a microscope at home is a great way to help your children learn about cells and more. In addition, kids of any age find great interest in using a pocket or digital microscope to explore things from the world around them in great detail. Indeed a microscope is great for outdoor activities such as looking at leaves, bugs and more, or for observing coins, money, and anything else of interest indoors. Some microscopes have what we would consider a conventional biological design, with a light, objective lenses and eyepieces to look through. Others have a digital design where you view the specimen on a digital screen or on a computer screen.
Features to Consider
When it comes to choosing a microscope for kids there’s a number of factors to consider.
- Size – If you’ve got young children who are just becoming interested in the exploring the world around them, then a microscope is a great way for them to see more detail. To make this as easy as possible for them, a compact, pocket microscope will be a great size for them to hold in their hands and carry. In addition, pocket microscopes will offer a magnification best suited to their age.
- Weight – By choosing a pocket microscope, whether it’s traditional or digital, the weight of the microscope will be kept to a minimum meaning it’s easier to transport and for little hands to use.
- Conventional vs Digital – Traditionally, biological microscopes were great child scopes for use in schools or for homeschooling. This is still the case, however more recently, the development of digital microscopes has opened up a whole new world of observing and also being able to record what you see and share it with others. If you’re considering a microscope for these applications, then either conventional or digital will be great options however there is usually less that can go wrong with a non-digital model. In addition, they’re often cheaper so if you need a lot for a classroom then they’re a more affordable option. Most pocket microscopes offer a conventional design which is great for young kids.
- Durability – Microscopes are typically one of the less durable types of optics. It’s important to keep young children’s fingers away from the lenses to stop them getting dirty. If you’re choosing a microscope for a very young child then a pocket microscope that has its lenses protected inside its body is often a great idea.
Choosing Telescopes for Kids
The solar system is a fascinating place that intrigues adults and kids alike. If you have a kid that has a keen interest in the moon, stars, planets and all things astronomy then why not feed their interest with a kids telescope.
Why Are They Useful?
Telescopes provide your child with a whole new world to explore in the sky. By magnifying the stars and planets, a telescope will help them to learn about the solar system, furthering their knowledge of the universe.
Features to Consider
When it comes to buying a telescope for children there’s a number of factors to consider.
- Adult or kids telescope - We always advise parents to keep away from toy telescopes and to opt for an adults telescope for their children to use instead. This is because toy telescopes often have poorer quality lenses which can make it really hard for children to see anything at all through a telescope resulting in them quickly loosing interest. Spend as much as you can on a larger, adult sized telescope that you can help them use and they’ll get much more joy and satisfaction from it.
- Size – It can be tempting to think that children need a compact telescope that is suited to their size, but actually quite the opposite is true. The smaller, more compact a telescope is, the less light it will let in and in turn the less you’ll be able to see. By opting for a telescope with a larger lens, the images it produces will be brighter and clearer and they’ll allow your child to see more objects in the night sky.
- Weight – As telescopes are used in a static location, the weight of a telescope isn’t an important factor to consider when choosing one for kids.
- Mount Type – Telescopes come with a tripod and a mount which connects the telescope to the tripod. There are a range of mounts on the market which vary in effectiveness and ease of use, but when it comes to choosing one for kids we’d usually suggest an AZ mount. Which ever mount you choose your children will likely need quite a lot of adult support to use the telescope effectively.
- Refractor vs Reflector – Telescope are available in either a refractor or reflector design, with both types having pros and cons. When it comes to choosing a telescope for kids, either type will be suitable however as reflectors are easier to make and therefore offer larger lenses at a lower price, we’d often suggest trying to get a larger lensed reflector telescope instead of a refractor telescope.
- Durability – All telescopes are delicate pieces of optical equipment and aren’t designed with durability in mind. Children should always be supervised to ensure that they don’t cause damage to the telescope.
Our buying guide for kids telescopes may be helpful too. Check it out here.
Choose From Our Wide Selection of Kid-Friendly Optics
At ScopeUout we have a wide range of educational and science focused optics that are ideal for inquisitive and knowledge-hungry kids who love exploring science. If your child loves all things nature then binoculars or spotting scopes will be a great option to feed their passion. Astronomy and space obsessed children will be thrilled with a telescope, and budding scientists will get hours of fun from a microscope. If your kids are even remotely interested in learning more about the world around them then it’s time to buy some optical equipment to expand their knowledge and understanding. Browse our range of kids optics now or view our entire spotting scope or telescope ranges for adult binoculars that will work well.