For many kids, their first encounter with magnetism comes in the form of fridge magnets. It often sparks their curiosity and provides you with a perfect opportunity to kickstart learning about magnetism. Magnets and their uses are fascinating, and for students the learning opportunities are vast.
So, to help you navigate your way through a topic on magnets, we have put together a list of magnet activities, ideas, and experiments guaranteed to magnetize young minds. Whatever age or stage your students, the list is sure to include activities that will attract their attention and repel any magnetic misconceptions.
1. Magnetic Treasure Hunt
Armed with a magnetic wand, send your students out to the sand tray and see what treasures they can find buried in the sand. You can hide various metal objects such as toy cars, coins, or even magnetic letters and numbers.
Learn more: Happy Toddler Playtime
2. Magnetic Materials in the Environment
Explore magnetic materials around your learning environment. With a magnetic wand in hand, students can investigate which surfaces their magnets stick to. It provides hours of fun, and it’s a great way to highlight common misconceptions. Will your students discover any metallic surfaces to which their magnet is not attracted too?
Learn more: Arbor Scientific
3. Mystery Magnets
Create a mystery box filled with magnetic objects. Students can lower their magnet into the box, and pull out a magnetic object. They might be surprised by the objects that appear. Once some items have been revealed, can your students spot any properties that they have in common?
4. Magical Magnetics
This activity explores the magic of magnets and illustrates how they are used in the entertainment industry. Don your magician’s cloak and perform a magnetic magic trick for your students. It could be a classic such as jumping beans or an object mysteriously moving across a surface unaided. Once you’ve divulged your secrets, your students can then have a turn at creating their own incredible magnet tricks.
Learn more: Evan Era TV
5. Magnetic or Not
Important scientific skills include prediction and investigation. This activity practices both. Give your students a selection of objects and ask them to predict which they think are magnetic or not. Their investigation might throw up a few surprises.
Learn more: Pre Kinders
6. Environmental Clear-up
If you're lucky enough to live close to a beach or a river, why not team up with a local environmental charity. Take part in beachcombing or riverbed clearance. Metal detectors and large magnets are used to retrieve metal waste from these environments. And seeing this in action gives students a real-life application of magnets and a purpose for learning.
7. Wire up your own Electromagnet
This activity is great for older students who are learning about electromagnets. They can build their own electromagnet and explore different variables that affect its magnetic field and the orientation of its poles.
Learn more: Science Bob
8. Make your own Fridge Magnet
Making your own fridge magnets is a great introduction to the topic, and they'll look great too! Once your students have decorated their kitchen appliances, encourage them to think of other ways in which magnets are used and start to explore how they work.
Learn more: Hand Righting
9. Compass Navigation
Lose yourselves in a compass navigation activity. Explore the science behind how a compass works and use them to navigate out in the wild. It's great fun and your students can learn a life skill along the way.
Learn more: Tinkergarten
10. Lego Magnet Mazes
All you'll need for this activity is some Lego, some magnet marbles, and a magnet wand. Build a magnet maze using the Lego and challenge your students to guide the magnetic marbles around the maze. This type of activity is great for developing motor skills in young children. You can build a mini magnet maze, for fine motor development, or a large maze to encourage gross movements.
Learn more: Little Bins for Little Hands
11. Magnetic Fishing
For this activity, you will need to make your own magnet fishing rod, and a 'fishing lake' (or classroom tray) filled with your choice of magnetic items. Magnet letters or numbers are a fun place to start. Get your kids to lower their magnetic rods into the lake and pull out to reveal their catch.
Learn more: Busy Toddler
12. DIY Compass
Another fun way to learn about compasses and magnetism is to make your own compass. This activity walks you through the steps to ensure you don't get lost.
Learn more: British Broadcasting Corporation
13. Magnet Mark Making
14. Magnet Marble Painting
Here's another fun magnet painting activity to tap into your kids' creative sides whilst learning about science. Get your hands on a magnetic marble, a piece of paper, a few drops of paint and a magnet, and you'll be ready to go!
Learn more: Education Closet
15. Iron Filing Art
Iron filings are often used in science lessons to illustrate magnet fields. When a magnet is placed amongst the iron filings, patterns will form showing where the magnetic forces are at work. Different types of magnets will create different patterns, and strong magnets will produce more vivid effects. Have a go at creating a piece of art and explore the properties of magnets at the same time.
Learn more: Babble Dabble Do
16. Sensory Bottles
Sensory bottles are a common tool in classrooms to help calm students. You can create a magnet sensory bottles to use for mindfulness activities and that also teaches children about magnetism. Simply fill a plastic bottle with some magnetic objects and follow these instructions. Kids can then use a magnet to attract different objects that are hiding in the bottle.
Learn more: Twinkl
17. More Magnetic Magic
This activity will keep kids entertained for hours. Show them how to set it up and provide them with a set of magnets that vary in strength. They can then experiment to see how many paper clips they can levitate.
Learn more: Mom Brite
18. Magnetics Sculptures
Another magnet craft activity that teaches science and taps into kids' creativity. Use a magnet as the base and build upwards. It's a fun activity that you can use to introduce a lesson on magnetism.
Learn more: Babble Dabble Do
19. Magnet Cars
Spark kids' curiosity with this activity based on the principle of attraction and repulsion. It's great fun and packed with scientific questions. Customize your toy cars with some bar magnets and race them around a homemade track.
Learn more: Science Kiddo
20. A Magical Spinning Pencil
This is a great STEAM project. Engineering the set-up of this project is a challenge of its own. Your kids will be forced to use a wide range of thinking skills and then apply their knowledge of magnetism to get the pencil spinning.
Learn more: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls