Note: Magnets can be very dangerous for kids. particularly the small, high-powered ones often found in magnetic building sets and other toys. Swallowing those type of magnets can lead to serious injuries such as "small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death," according to the AAP. They recommend adult supervision for kids under 6.
Today we have a number of activities that help kids explore the amazing properties of magnets!
Introducing Magnets to Kids: Here are some good activities to start with when introducing magnets to kids for the first time. Have the kids run and gather five items from around the house. Have a tray ready with a number of household items as well -- paper clips, plastic toys, a spoon, a pencil, eraser... you get the idea! Once the kids come back, hand them a magnet wand and have them explore the items. What do they discover? Once they realize that some items are attracted to the magnet and some are not, have them sort all the items into two sections: magnetic and non-magnetic. My son especially enjoyed this activity when he was little if he was trying to beat the clock!
Magnets have two poles - a North and South pole. The North end of one magnet is attracted to the South end of another magnet. We had a basic magnet kit and the kids loved watching how the same poles (North - North or South - South) repel one another. We also put one magnet on a string and made it "dance" with a magnet wand! Magnetic Hair! We saw this activity at Laughing Kids Learn and just had to give it a try too. Cut pipe cleaners into 1 1/2 inch pieces and put them in a bowl. Dip the wand in and see what hair style comes out... or design your own! The kids had such a blast with this! Our magnet wand came as part of a kit, but you can also purchase them separately at Amazon and other education stores.
Magnet Discovery Bottles: Not only can you fill an empty bottle with rice or beans and magnetic and non-magnetic items, but the colorful pipe cleaners from the previous activity worked really well too.
Magnet Painting: Put a piece of paper at the bottom of a shoe box. Place a few drops of paint on the paper and place a paper clip on the paper. We found it worked well if the paper clip was just slightly bent. Move a magnet around underneath the box and watch the colors blend!
Fly a Kite: My daughter drew the picture and made a little kite. She taped paper clips to the back and then flew it around with a magnet wand. We first saw this activity over at the blog, Abby the Librarian.
Magnet Mazes: Create a maze and have the kids solve it by moving their magnet along the maze. I've also seen parents create roads and had the kids drive their (paper) cars along the road! Just be very, very careful with button magnets as they can pose a choking hazard for young kids. Magnets can be particularly dangerous when swallowed.
Magnet Fishing Game -- This game was always a huge hit in our household. This activity can be used for anything from letter and number recognition to sight words. Older kids can use the numbers to practice doubling or adding 1 (or 2 or whatever) to the number they pull up! If you would like a copy of the printables you see, just hop on over to Liesl's blog: Fishing for Sight Words, Letters and Numbers
Magnet Pages: Making Learning Fun has dozens of cute magnet pages for use with white board magnets. Be sure to check out their website!
Liesl homeschools her three elementary age kids and loves finding creative, hands-on activities and great books to share with her kids. Check out her blog at homeschoolden.com and follow her on Facebook, ,Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.