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Magnet Fun

Magnets have long been a mystery to children. They can push other magnets away and pull things towards them.  When I taught first grade, I always looked forward to the magnet science unit because the children just loved it and were engaged with the discovery of pushing and pulling.


This power drives the electric motors that are inside many common machines we use such as hair dryers and trains.

The earth is a huge magnet.  If you use a compass to find the direction it uses the earth’s magnetism to always have the needle point north.

A magnet can pick up objects made of iron or steel. The objects will stick to the end of the magnets.

Activity:  Is it Magnetic?

In a science journal, large board or paper write “Magnetic” and “Not Magnetic.”  Write it so they are on the top of the paper (board) making two columns.

Choice one:  Have items already chosen and out on table for children to experiment. (Write these objects on board.)

Advantage: This is good for smaller children that may need help with writing and spelling, shy children that may need help with the assignment (they can get the assistance of a friend) and easier to have control if you have a large group of children or children that cannot handle the responsibility of wandering a house or class.

Choice two: Have the children go on a hunt to find six magnetic items and six non-magnetic items.  The advantage of this choice is the children get to move around, make their own choice, be original and get to share their findings with others.

Next, have the students or your own children test which items are magnetic, recording each item in the appropriate column.

Last, share the finding as a group and discuss what they have found out.

Activity: I am Stronger!

Some magnets are stronger than others, you can test the strength of magnets.  Magnets can be purchased at teaching stores or hardware stores. Have different types of magnets in front of child. With each magnet see if they can pass the following tests.  Keep a note about each magnet to make a conclusion at the end on which magnet is strongest.

Test 1:  Using card board, draw a curved or squiggle line.  Placing the paper clip on top of the cardboard and the magnet under the cardboard.  Move the paper clip to the finish line.  You can mark the line on the cardboard to show where the paper clip stopped.

Test 2:  Can you get a paper clip out of a glass of water without getting the magnet wet?  Fill a glass with water and drop the paper clip in the glass. Next, place the magnet on the outside of the glass close to the paper clip and try to work the paper clip out of the water, without getting wet!

Magnets can travel through water.

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