Getting to experience magnets for the first time can be an almost magical experience for kids.
For kids, it can be like, “What is going on with this object that so many things stick to it?” That is part of what makes discovering magnets so exciting.
In this post I share three activities I have done with my kids to learn about magnets through play.
Note: Find more hands-on science activities for young children on my Science Activities for Kids page!
Magnet sensory bin
Our day started with a magnet sensory bin. (I LOVE sensory bins!) I used white rice as the base and then put in in some magnets from our Fun with Magnets kit. Then, I tossed in a variety of magnetic and non-magnetic objects for the kids to explore.
Both of the kids picked up a magnet and started exploring with it.
They liked to see what objects would stick to the magnet.
Using a magnet to remove a paperclip from a bottle
After they had explored the contents of the sensory bin for a while, I showed the kids how they could use a magnet to get a paperclip out of a bottle. QBoy and XGirl took turns doing this several times each.
Painting with magnets
Then I introduced them to magnet painting, an idea I originally saw on Rockabye Butterfly.
I had the kids squirt globs of paint onto a paper plate.
Then, they dropped a paperclip and a metal nut onto their plates.
Then they used a magnet beneath the plate to move the paperclip and metal nut through the paint. This was a bit more challenging then I had anticipated as the items on the plate did not seem to stick to the magnet as well as I had thought they would. But it worked well enough.
The kids loved this activity, and asked to do it more than once. Here is the end result!
Do you have other ideas for learning about magnets we should try? If so, please leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas!
Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
More science activities for kids
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Don’t have time to gather materials? Want to make science super easy? Check out these monthly subscription services that will send science and creativity kits to your door!