Don't let your microscope gather dust in a corner! Start making your own slides to view at home.
There are two different ways we homeschoolers can mount our samples for microscope slides - wet-mount or dry-mount.
In this article, we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options along with how to make these slides and a free microscope printable for you to use!
Let's dig in . . .
How to make a microscope slide you can view at home
Like I said, in the homeschool setting, we typically only the dry-mount or the wet-mount method of securing samples on slides for viewing.
But before we go into detail about these two methods, let's chat about how to handle slides. Here are a few essential tips:
- When you move the slide, always hold it on the edges while wearing gloves.
- Never put your fingers in the middle of the slide, unless you want to view your fingerprint under the microscope.
- Always put your slides away properly so that the will not collect dust or get scratched.
Whew, with that out of the way, let's chat about making some slides!
A dry-mount slide is when the sample is simply placed on a slide . . . simple, huh?
You can use a coverslip or another slide to flatten the sample or hold it in place if necessary.
Advantages - This type of slide preparation is quick and easy to make.
Disadvantages - Living samples will dry out and die quickly with this type of slide preparation.
You should use this type of slide when viewing samples such as pollen, feather, or hair.
How to make a dry-mount slide
When making your own dry-mount slides, you will want to follow these directions:
- Collect your sample and place it in the middle of a clean, dry slide.
- Place the slide on the stage of the microscope. (If necessary, cover the sample with a coverslip or another slide that you hold in place with the clips on the stage.)
- Your slide is ready to be viewed.
Once you view your slide, wipe it off thoroughly with 70% ethanol and a clean lens cloth to reuse the slide for another sample.
A wet-mount slide is when the sample is placed on the slide with a drop of water and covered with a coverslip, which holds it in place through surface tension.
Advantages - This type of slide preparation allows you to view microscopic living things without them drying out.
Disadvantages - It takes a bit more time to prepare these slides.
You should use this type of slide when viewing living samples such as saliva, blood, and other cells.
How to make a wet-mount slide
When making your own wet-mount slides, you will want to follow these directions:
- Collect a thin slice of your sample and place it on a clean, dry slide. (Make sure your sample is very thin or else your coverslip will wobble and you won’t get a very good view of your sample.)
- Place one drop of water over your sample. (Be sure not to use too much water or else your coverslip will float away and you won’t be able to see your sample.)
- Place the coverslip at a 45-degree angle with one edge touching the water and let go. The coverslip will fall over the sample and be held in place by surface tension. (This method should prevent any air bubbles under the coverslip, as these will affect your ability to view the sample.)
- Your slide is ready to be viewed.
Once you view your slide, you can gently separate the coverslip and slide. Then, clean both thoroughly with 70% ethanol and dry with a lens cloth to reuse the slide for another sample.
Wrapping it up (& a FREE Printable)
As you view the slides you have made, have your students describe what they are seeing. Then, take the time to point out any of the interesting features you want them to notice.
After that, have the students make a notebooking sheet to record the experience. Here's a free printable you can use:
I hope you enjoy looking at the microscopic world as you study science!