Show your preschooler the magic of magnets.

Activities With Magnets for Preschoolers

by Kelly Sundstrom

Magnets seem like magic, especially for young children. Even just allowing your preschooler to play with magnets by herself can help her see this magnetic force first hand, but for a really amazing lesson on magnetics, set up a few activities related to magnets that will really blow her mind. For example, create a magnetic magic show using different types of magnets to surprise family and friends.

1. Magic Show

Amaze and amuse your preschoolers by creating a magic show using standard magnets. You can use magnets to create a magic trick that requires very little skill or set up. For example, tape a piece of paper to a magnet, then place the paper face up on top of a table. Place a second magnet underneath the table directly under the first. When you move the magnet around, then paper seems to move on its own. You could work the magnets while your preschooler pretends to move the paper with magical words or with a wave of her hand.

2. Train

Do you have a preschooler who lives and breathes all things related to trains? Show him how to make a train that pulls its cars with only magnets! Paint a bunch of empty pint-sized milk or juice containers with tempera paint to make them look like a train engine or train cars, then let them dry. Tape or glue a magnet on to the back and front of each box, then position the cars and the engine so that the poles line up properly to lock them together. Now your child can choo choo around with a whimsical and magnetic train set.

3. Sleuth

Magnetic force can seem mysterious, especially to a young mind. You can turn this mysterious feeling into a fun activity with your preschooler to find out what magnetic materials exist around your home. Give your preschooler a magnifying glass, which is not really necessary but just gets your child in the sleuthy mood. Using a magnet, roam around your house touching the magnet to materials that your child sees, such as curtains, the refrigerator, the couch, pencils or silverware. Magnetic materials will stick to the magnet, but nonmagnetic materials won't.

4. Patterns

Magnetism creates dynamic and beautiful patterns on their own, which you can show your preschooler under careful adult supervision. Sprinkle iron filings on top of a jelly roll tray, then hold a bar magnet underneath the tray. When the filings interact with the bar magnet, they will form into arcs and waves around it. Do not let your preschooler touch the iron filings, which can be sharp and very pointy.

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