Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Magnet Learning Activities for Kids

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Since Christmas, we have been having lots of fun exploring with the magnets in my son's new Super Magnet Lab .  It was by far one of his favorite presents.  At first, I planned to write a separate post for each of our activities, but since several months have passed, I decided to give you all an overview of some of our favorite activities all in one place!

The set says that it is for ages 5+.  I did these activities with my daycare kids starting at age 2, under direct supervision.  As always, please use your own judgement about whether your child or students are ready for using these materials. We started our magnet exploration with a magnet sensory bin and sensory bottles.  For our sensory bin, I used a 9"x 13" plastic container and filled it with black beans.  Then, I added the magnetic counters, balls, wands, and other pieces from the kit.  I also added a few medicine measuring cups and an ice tray for the kids to scoop and dump the beans into.  The kids had a great time dragging their wands through the beans to find the hiding chips and sorting them in the ice tray.

For our sensory bottles, we used the storage bottles from my Medela Breastpump. They are the perfect size bottles for little hands and the kids loved tipping these over and watching the chips fall to the bottom.  They were so excited when they found they could drag the chips through the water using their magnetic wands (even if the wands didn't actually touch the bottles).
On a day where I had lots of time with my preschoolers, we took out our kit and I put together some quick focused learning activities for letters, colors, and counting.  To practice sorting and colors, I taped one chip of each color onto a small plastic cup.  Then, I dumped the chips out onto the table and let the kids use the wands to grab chips and sort them into the correct cup. Some of the kids tried to grab as many chips as possible and then sort them.  Others tried to pick up one chip at a time (a difficult task with many chips on the table) and put them into the correct cup.
Another alternative when doing this activity with many children is to have them try to collect all the chips that match their wands.  This was a great activity for my 2-year-old because it was easy for him to compare the colors and self-check.  He had a great time naming the colors and identifying each one as he "caught" it with his magnetic wand!For Letter Sorting, we used two more of the plastic cups and labelled one with a capital B and one with a lower-case b.  Then, I took a vis-a-vis marker and labelled the chips with either a 'B' or a 'b'.
It was a great coincidence that we were working on the letter 'B' that week, because the see-through chips illustrated a handy trick for remembering the difference between b and d.  The lower-case 'b' fits nicely into the capital 'B' when they overlap. This is a great trick for kids who have difficulty reversing their 'b' and 'd'. I loved this activity for letter sorting because they were repeatedly analyzing and focusing on the letter to complete their task. These chips were great for our number recognition and counting activity, as well.  I took a Sharpie and labelled the plastic cups with 0-5.  Then, I used the vis-a-vis marker to draw dots on the chips for each number.

The kids used their wands to grab a chip, counted the dots, and then put it in the correct cup with the corresponding number.  My 2-year-old loved this activity and I was amazed with how well he did with it.  My 4-year-old was able to complete this independently and asked to do it during Quiet Time later that day. All in all, I am so pleased with this purchase and all the fun learning implications it's had.  My kids have been exploring with their magnets and we have used them as tools in many of our learning activities.

Here are some more fun activities with magnets from some of my favorite sites:

Magnet Water Sensory Play - And Next Comes L
Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

Magnetic Robot Art - Fun-a-Day
Making magnetic robot art with tin cans and craft supplies

Magnetic Lab Science Sinks - Frogs and Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails
Magnet lab science sink


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