100+ Things to Look at Under the Microscope (That You Already Have at Home)

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If you need to get your kids interested in the microscope, this list of 100+ things to look at under the microscope is full of stuff you have at home!

cells under a microscope

Written by Adrienne Bolton of Adrienne Bolton.

Who needs to make science a little more fun? Would a bucket list of over 1oo things to look at under the microscope help?

Do you own a microscope? I invested in one years ago when my oldest started taking biology. It’s spent more time in the box than out, but I’m looking for ways to spark some science interest around here.

Whenever I decide to get it out and set it up, no one seems to be able to resist the urge to sneak a peek.

Learning the ins and outs of the microscope is a useful skill if your child plans to take any biology or higher-level science. In-person labs can be intimidating when there’s a bunch of other students breathing down your neck for their turn at the lens. It’s essential to get familiar with using the microscope now.

To help make the lab a little more laughable (and hopefully memorable), I created a microscope bucket list of sorts. (Scroll to the bottom for a free printable version.)

Full disclaimer: some of this list is gross. I’m sorry. We’ve already established I’m weird, so you’re reading at your own risk.

100 things to look at under the microscope that you already have at home


  • Blade of grass
  • Pond water
  • Pool water
  • Tap water
  • Garden soil
  • Compare different types of soil like organic, soil made for planting vegetables, or soil with additives and chemicals.
  • Beach sand The Homeschool Scientist has a great article on comparing sand from different locations.
  • Compare dirt samples from various locations

In our neighborhood, some people use well water, and others have city water. It would be interesting to take a sample of dirt from each type of yard and compare the differences. Do you think you’d see anything different in the soil in your neighbor’s yard compared to yours? There’s only one way to find out!

Parts of a flower

  • Petals
  • Stamen
  • Leaves
  • Roots


  • Feather
  • Leaf
  • Bark
  • Dead bugs

We live in Florida, so I can walk out my front door, and it’s a guarantee I’ll find a dead bug of some kind on the front doorstep. After the hurricane a few weeks ago, there was a giant dragonfly out there who didn’t make it through the storm. I should have scooped him up in the name of science.

Here are a few more ideas of things to look at under the microscope (if you’re lucky enough to find them):

  • Butterfly wings
  • Bee’s wings
  • Dragonfly wings
  • Exoskeleton of cicada
  • Snakeskin shedding
  • Ant

Body parts of an ant

  • Head
  • Petiole
  • Exoskeleton
  • Thorax
  • Mandibles
  • Abdomen
  • Hair
  • Eyes

Food/Pantry Items

  • Moldy bread
  • Fresh bread
  • Skin from apple
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Green pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber seeds
  • Celery leaves
  • Carrot tops
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Lemon peel
  • Poppyseed
  • Flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Blue cheese
  • Milk
  • Skin from a potato
  • Hot sauce
  • Raw egg membrane
  • Raw yolk
  • The weird white squiggly thing in raw eggs. (Google it and learn something).

More gross stuff

  • Skin
  • Saliva
  • Ear wax
  • Booger
  • Blood
  • Used bathwater
  • Hair from your brush
  • Fingernail
  • Soap scum
  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Lime
  • Calcium
  • Rust
  • Cheek swab

What does the human skin cell look like under the microscope? Can you locate any of these parts of the cell? Sketch what you see under the microscope and note what cell parts you recognize.

Parts of a cell:

  • Cell membrane
  • Cytoplasm
  • Ribosomes
  • Nucleus
  • Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Lysosome
  • Chloroplast
  • Cell Wall
  • Vacuole
  • Golgi bodies
  • Nucleolus
  • Mitochondrion
  • Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum
100+ Things To Look At Under The Microscope

Pet stuff

  • Nail clippings
  • Fur
  • Whiskers

Do you have a bagless vacuum cleaner? I do. I empty our vacuum every time I use it, and it is disgusting! We have two cats, one dog, four people, and whatever ends up in my vacuum container each day is enough to make me want to puke no matter how many times I do it. Every time, I think I’m going to save a tiny piece of gunk to look at under the microscope, but I never do.

I know. I have issues.

  • Vacuum cleaner gunk
  • Cat litter
  • Stool samples

Listen, I’m putting it on the list. It’s just an idea! I know it’s disgusting. That’s the point!

Maybe one of your kids will get up and get excited about science because there’s dog poop on this list? Who knows? Don’t judge me! You know you were at co-op last week standing over a pile of owl pellets. That you PAID for. So, there’s that.

I recommended purchasing gloves and goggles.

Create disgusting petri dish experiments

Gather swabs from all over your house. Create a disgusting petri dish lab and see just how gross your home is. Try not to cringe.

  • The Fridge
  • Bedroom
  • Closet floor
  • Treadmill or workout area
  • Bathroom counter
  • Bottom of the toilet
  • Old dish sponge
  • Pillows
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Soapdish
  • Dishwasher
  • Oven
  • The backseat of your car
  • Pet food bowls
  • Dining room table
  • Microwave
  • Coffee pot
  • Dirty sneakers

WUHS subscribers, head to the subscriber freebies page to download a free printable version of this list to keep handy on your fridge or in your schoolroom. Not a subscriber?  Look for the subscribe box under the author’s bio. Sign up to receive new WUHS posts via email and get access to all our free, exclusive content!

What weird stuff would you add to the list?

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Owner | Website | + posts

Adrienne Bolton is a freelance writer and veteran homeschool mom. She began homeschooling in 2009 to meet the needs of her oldest son who struggled with the public school setting. Her boys have had different experiences with homeschooling, but both have thrived in spite of her. Her oldest son transitioned from public school after fourth grade and her youngest is 100% homegrown, having never stepped foot in a traditional classroom. Now with one son in college and one working his way through high school, she is proof anyone can do this. She writes with humor and heart, peppered with occasional snark and sarcasm. When she is not writing or working you can find her with a good book in hand, snuggling her massive Pitbull fur baby, or making something yummy in the kitchen. She loves to cook, bake, and be outdoors in the sunshine. The beach is her happy place and she's a true flip-flop wearing Florida girl. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.


  1. Love these “out of the box” suggestions, Adrienne. Used bathwater and ear wax, lol. It’s all true biology though so if you can stomach it, why not? The only other thing that came to mind is dryer lint but it’s not nearly as exciting as the ideas you covered:).

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