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If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best chemistry set for kids is, I’d recommend the Wild Science Test Tube Chemistry Lab.
Kids are natural learners. They explore and soak up knowledge like little sponges.
Parents and teachers all know that kids learn best through having fun with hands-on experiences.
While not everything you have to learn lends itself to the excitement and real-life action, chemistry is one thing that really does.
Kids are more likely to remember a demonstration or an experiment (and the theory that goes along with it) than they are reading textbooks and answering questions.
Children can learn essential science concepts through simple experiments. Really, who doesn’t remember the first time they mixed baking soda and water and watched the reaction blow the top right off a bottle?
Chemistry experiments range from simple to complicated, and with a few extra steps, you can have an at-home lab that will take learning chemistry to the next level, for both you and your child.
Here are the chemistry sets for kids I will be reviewing:
- Wild Science – Test Tube Chemistry Lab
- Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set
- Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Chemistry Set
- Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kids Science Experiment Kit
- The Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab
- Kaboom! Explosive Combustion Science Lab Kit
- Educational Insights GeoSafari Rockin’ Reactions Chemistry Set
- Ben Franklin Toys Chemistry Lab Pad Science Kit
- Learn & Climb Kids Science Kit
- Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station
Setting up A Lab
While a chemistry set is important, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need, then all you have to do is pick the right equipment!
You’ll want a table or flat surface where you can conduct experiments. You’ll need a tap for water and working electricity so that you’ll have everything you need when it’s time to learn and explore.
Make sure that your space is away from any edibles. While the kitchen might seem a logical place to experiment, try to search for a different location. This might lead you to a bathroom, or maybe a well-ventilated garage or storage shed.
Personal protective equipment is important, even for simple science experiments. You should always wear safety glasses over your eyes for protection, and it’s a good idea to have gloves as well.
You don’t have to break the bank to get some of these items. Nitrile or latex cleaning gloves work well, and you can get safety glasses cheaply from Amazon or Target.
A lab coat isn’t necessary, but it will help protect clothes from any wayward splashes, and it does help them get into the scientific spirit!
The last thing you’ll want to make sure you have in your space is a lab notebook. Scientists record their experiments and observations, so having a dedicated notebook helps things feel more official.
Encourage them to write or draw out their hypothesis, explain the procedures of their experiments, and summarize the results.
Recording their thoughts will help reinforce any concepts they do learn and helps build language arts and communication skills as well.
Once you have a lab space set up, that last thing you’ll need is the equipment. That’s where we come in with a round-up of the best chemistry sets for kids.
My Chemistry Sets for Kids Reviews
We’ve reviewed a number of chemistry set below for kids of different ages. Read on to find which one is right for you.
Wild Science – Test Tube Chemistry Lab
The Wild-Science – Test Tube Chemistry Lab is designed with upper elementary kids in mind. This set focuses on several different chemistry concepts, going beyond the acid and bases you find in other options, and delving into gas, density, emulsion and metals.
To get the maximum educational value, work through the experiments from the beginning of the manual to the end. The concepts build on each other, and while you can do the experiments at random, it would help to go in order to deepen understanding.
The kit is impressive, with lots of great activities, but still relatively safe, so parents should be supervising, but don’t have to be as actively involved if your kids are eight and up. Younger children will still get a lot out of this lab but will need some intense parental involvement to do so.
The Test Tube Chemistry Lab is more complete than several of the others, coming with a tabletop workbench that gives you a safe place to conduct experiments. It also includes safety goggle and gloves, as well as a test tube rack and other small accessories.
Some of the experimental materials will need to come from your house, such as ice cube trays, sand, and matches. In general, the list of “not included” items is much shorter than other options.
Bottom Line: For kids 8-12 to do solo, or younger children to do with parents, this is an excellent chemistry set with (almost) everything you need.
- 8-12-year-old range
- Illustrated lab manual
- Resealable containers
- Wider range of concepts
- 50+ experiments
- Safety goggles and gloves included
- Reasonably priced
- Difficult for younger kids
- Still needs a few items from home
Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set
Geared specifically for the littlest scientists, the Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set is ideally suited for preschoolers. The science tools are scaled down to fit into little hands and are brightly colored, clearly making them for kids.
The kit includes everything from beakers to safety goggles, all designed perfectly for three and four-year-olds. With so many new tools, kids will be eager to learn the correct names for items and increase their scientific vocabulary.
The thing I love best about this set is that it can be both a lab set up for experiments, or just a pretend play set. I love open-ended play options that don’t require a lot of parental involvement, but it’s nice to have the option of doing a few experiments for some parent-child bonding time.
I will say that the price of this one seems a little high for what is mostly just a set of toys, but the quality is high, and they’ll get a lot of playtime, even if you don’t do many experiments.
The experiment cards are easy to follow with pictures that help non-readers follow along with the procedure. However, be prepared, this kit doesn’t come with any ingredients or materials for the experiments. You will need to use items you have on hand, or possibly even plan a trip to the store to make sure you have everything you need.
Bottom Line: A little bit pricey for what you get, but a cool option for younger kids who love science.
- Hands-on experiment instructions
- Visually appealing toys
- Beginner activities
- Preschool appropriate real science tools
- Easy to follow activity cards
- High-quality construction
- No included ingredients
- Geared more toward play than experiments
- Higher price
- Only 10 experiments
Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Chemistry Set
For the more serious scientist, the Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Chemistry Set has high-quality items that will last from middle to high school. With “real” chemistry materials such as a bunsen burner and other high-level tools, this set really brings a laboratory into your home.
The lab manual has almost 200 pages and details experiments with colorful illustrations and clear explanations, helping kids not only perform the experiments but also learn from them.
Yes, even though this is geared toward older kids, adult supervision is a must with the materials in this kit. Anything with fire needs to have a grown-up around, and as with any proper chemistry set, there is equal opportunity for learning and destruction.
While the C3000 is definitely at the top end of price ranges for an at-home set-up, you are getting laboratory quality items. However, you need to be aware the many of the chemicals required are not included in the kit.
The additional materials will likely cost an extra $50-100, and some of the items can be hard to procure, so make sure you have a plan in mind to complete supplies before you’re ready to experiment.
Bottom Line; It’s worth it for the determined young scientist. It’s the closest you’ll get to a real, at-home lab set up for kids, but the price tag is hefty, and you’ll still need to do some extra shopping.
- 333 experiments
- Extensive lab manual
- Advanced topics – high school level
- High-quality glassware
- Doesn’t include many of the needed chemicals
- Some beginner experiments
- Older kids only(12+)
Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kids Science Experiment Kit
The My First Mind Blowing Science Kit comes with instructions and most of the materials needed for eleven science experiments. With droppers, swabs, clubs and test tubes, many of the items in the kit can be used not just for the experiments, but also for open-ended play exploration.
Activities hit all the STEM principles, and kids will learn about acid, bases, color properties, and crystals. While there are eleven different experiments, many of the concepts are repeated, helping reinforce ideas kids have already learned.
The included materials are relatively safe, making it perfect for the younger age group. While the manufacturer recommends to use this with ages 6 and up, the experiments are easy enough for preschool-age children to do, as long as they have adult supervision.
In fact, many of the concepts are so simple that preschoolers are more likely to be impressed. Older kids might find the small amounts of ingredients and therefore, small reactions to be underwhelming and less than they were hoping for.
While the experiments are easy to do, they do take a little while to set up, so if you are trying to do this in small windows (like when a baby is napping), you might need to do some prep work to maximize your time and have everything cleaned up before he wakes up.
Bottom Line: A good buy for a reasonable price, but geared more for beginning scientists, not necessarily school-aged kids.
- Works well for younger kids
- STEM principles
- Open-ended toys
- Safe chemicals
- Not too messy
- Everything but household items
- Small scale ingredients
- Not a lot of “Wow” factor
- A little time-intensive
- Fundamental concepts
- Not for older kids
- Only 11 experiments
The Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab
With the Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab, you get to bring Ms. Frizzle’s exciting science class home! If you’re a fan of this classic show (the revamp is pretty good too, in my opinion), then this kit has some extra luster because of brand association.
Like some of the other kits, equipment cards explain the experiments, but in this set, they arrange the experiments in themes. Each theme consists of two smaller (and less exciting) activities that teach some of the basic scientific principles, and then they have a final project that puts it all together.
While some of the smaller activities can get boring, this kit really takes the teaching portion home. Kids will develop a good understanding of the scientific processes and be able to make connections thanks to multiple activities in one theme.
All of the supplies are included, except for your basic household ingredients (baking soda, vinegar, cornstarch, etc.) so know that before you buy. It’s not fun to open a new box and not be able to immediately dive in because you have to go to the store.
The price of this kit is a little high, and it seems like you’re paying mostly for the brand. The materials tend to be on the cheaper side and won’t hold up through several uses, although they are perfectly functional.
Lab Report: This one is a high price but might be worth it for Ms. Frizzle fans and for parents who don’t want to explain the scientific concepts since the cards do an excellent job of teaching.
- Hands-on learning
- STEM focus
- Younger kids can participate
- Developed by Harvard Graduates
- 51 themed experiment cards
- Ms. Frizzle excitement!
- Low-quality plastic
- Small amounts of materials
- Pretty simple concepts
Kaboom! Explosive Combustion Science Lab Kit
What kid doesn’t want to blow stuff up? The Kaboom! Explosive Combustion Science Lab Kit offers experiments that focus on chemical reactions to help kids get excited and interested in chemistry.
There are 25 experiment instructions included in the lab manual, all with hands-on components. However, the manual can be challenging to read, even for older kids. Thankfully, some illustrations help you keep the experiments on the right track.
I love that this kit includes safety glasses and gloves, so I wouldn’t need to buy my own, but it doesn’t include a lot of the ingredients necessary to do the experiments. Most of them are considered household items, but you may not have rubbing alcohol or toothpicks on hand all the time, so it’s worth a check to make sure you have what you need.
Priced in the higher range and geared toward older kids, the tools seem a little bit cheap. They run toward plastic instead of glass, and there are no stands to help with precise measurement. Older kids might expect a bit more out of their equipment.
However, the experiments included here are more chemistry focused and will keep kids of all ages watching and waiting for the “Boom!” If you have a kid who isn’t into science, this one is the most likely to keep him engaged.
Bottom Line: Multiple chemical reaction experiments make this set exciting and sure to keep kids’ interest, just know what to expect!
- Hands-on experiments
- 25 options
- STEM activities
- Better for older kids (8+)
- Illustrated lab guide
- More chemistry focused
- Includes safety glasses and gloves
- Not a lot of extras: test tube stands, etc
- Plastic vs glass
- Hard to read manual
- Needs additional materials
- Not as explosive as advertised
Educational Insights GeoSafari Rockin’ Reactions Chemistry Set
The GeoSafari Rockin’ Reactions Chemistry Set focuses on giving you the tools you need to set up your lab.
It includes an activity journal that helps kids walk through the scientific method when doing experiments, and encourages close observations. This is one of the only sets that comes with a lab journal.
While this kit does come with that extra, it doesn’t come with any ingredients for experiments. There are several experiment suggestions and instructions, all using household items that you would need to purchase. Many of the activities are straightforward concepts, making it a little less exciting than some of the other sets.
Knowing that you’re only paying for the pieces, not for any ingredients, the price is realistic, maybe a little high considering the age range. This is geared more toward 4-8-year-olds, as opposed to older kids, and would be a great option for pretend play, as well as doing experiments.
The Educational Insights brand tends to focus its products on specific areas. The chemistry set here has all the tools you need to do chemistry experiments, but not much else. There are other kits that you could use in conjunction with this one to explore more scientific concepts.
- Uses household ingredients
- Teaches scientific processes
- Includes an activity journal
- Safety goggles and gloves
- Instruction manual provided
- Looks realistic
- Incredibly simple experiment suggestions
- No ingredients included
Ben Franklin Toys Chemistry Lab Pad Science Kit
The Ben Franklin Toys Chemistry Lab Pad Science Kit wins the award for the most organized set available. The lab pad helps store all of the 50+ pieces and gives you a clean surface to set on your tabletop to protect your space.
This particular set appeals to a wide range of ages. There are only 12 experiments, and they are relatively simple concepts, which works well for the 5-8-year-old range. After that, things such as the included Periodic Table and the checklist pad will encourage older kids to explore the concepts they study in school and create their own experiments.
The action steps and checklist will keep even distracted kids on track when they are working on an experiment, allowing parents to step back a little and let their child lead the learning and exploration.
The kit includes trendy items, like slime and crystals, and does a good job in the manual explaining the scientific properties of these items. Connections to current trends will help kids stay interested and engaged while learning.
Bottom Line: An excellent starter kit that you can use for both the provided experiments and then more complicated ones later on.
- Illustrated experiment cards
- Lab pad to keep everything organized and neat
- Checklist and action steps
- Goggles included
- Introduces the Periodic Table of Elements
- Appeals to a wide age range
- Still needs some ingredients
- Only 12 experiments
Learn & Climb Kids Science Kit
The Learn & Climb Kids Science Kit does more than just chemistry. It also includes experiments to help kids learn concepts from biology, physics, and earth science. The wide range makes it a great supplement to in-school instruction, where kids often learn the theory but don’t get to do a lot of hands-on activities.
The experiments come in themed sets so that you complete several experiments that are linked in order to deepen understanding. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of in-depth explanations included in the manual, so you might need to rely on Google, parental knowledge, or excellent observational skills from your child to make the necessary connections.
This is the only kit on our list that comes with a DVD. It’s helpful to be able to watch demonstrations of the experiments if you get stuck, but be warned that watching together before you do it yourself might take away some of the glamour and excitement!
A few of the experiments are very similar, so you have closer to 20 individual experiments and then variations to explore bringing the total up to 60. While older kids might understand the subtle changes, younger ones are more likely to feel like they’ve already done it and want something new.
Bottom Line: A good experiment option for multiple areas of science, but it lacks some of the explanations and excitement of some other kits.
- 60 experiments
- DVD included with manual
- 30-day return policy
- Includes activities for multiple areas of science
- Themed sets to help deepen understanding
- Some materials are hard to find
- Several experiments are variations
- Lacks scientific explanations
- Basic concepts
Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station
The Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station delivers a lot of science glitz and glam with experiments that are heavy on the slime, ooze, fizz, and bubbles.
The lab station set up is safe for kids and helps them feel more like real scientists in a laboratory. Unfortunately, the cool presentation does take a while to set up and takedown, so you’ll need to figure that time into your schedule when you do experiments.
As with almost all the other kits, this one requires additional materials from home to complete the experiments. While some of the ingredients are typical, items like cabbage juice might require special trips to the store.
The experiment cards are bright and interesting to look at, but it is sometimes unclear what the instructions are referring to, so be ready to do a little deductive reasoning to follow along.
Little scientists will enjoy the chemical reactions that are colorful and fizzy, and anything that makes slime these days is a surefire winner with elementary-aged kids.
Bottom Line: The experiments are fun, but the price is high, and you’ll need quite a few additional materials before you can do any of the activities.
- Colorful and illustrated manual
- Fantastic presentation
- Has supplemental kits you can buy
- Fizzy, bright, and bubbly experiments
- 20 activities
- Cards are hard to follow
- Intensive set up
- Requires additional materials
- Extended times require patience
For ages 5-10, the Wild Science Test Tube Chemistry Lab is the best one for kids. It appeals to the most comprehensive age range, with younger kids needing more adult supervision and older ones being able to fly solo. The included materials are extensive, and the list of supplemental ingredients is smaller than most of the others.
If your kids are preschool-aged or younger, then the Learning Resources Primary Science Lab kit is your best bet. It can be used for science experiments, and also encourages open-ended scientific play.
Young scientists who are 10 years old and up are likely to find the Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Chemistry to be their best match. The price is high, but so is the quality and with a look toward high school chemistry, this set might be worth the investment.
No matter the age or stage, there are ample opportunities available to explore science at home.