Magnets and Magnetism: A Preschool Science Program

Our latest adventures in preschool science have proved rather attractive. (Get it? That’s magnet humor!)

Photo by Amy Koester.

Photo by Amy Koester.

I’ve seen a number of my colleagues (Katie and Abby, for example) offer some great preschool science programs on the topic of magnets, and I figured it was high time I offered something on the topic, too. Here’s what I did:

First, we shared a story that provided an introduction to the concept of magnets. I opted for Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, a whimsical story about a young boy whose kite becomes stuck in a tree. He tries throwing increasingly more ridiculous items up in the tree to try to dislodge the kite, but everything seems to get stuck. Quite an amusing story.

IMG_1527

Photo by Amy Koester.

Next, we retold the story of Stuck using magnet props, and we talked about how magnets stick together. Kids helped me stick the various objects onto our tree on the magnet board, and they experimented with things that the magnet props would and would not stick to.

We did hands-on activities to further explore how magnets work. I always set up stations with some brief instructions, which allows children and their caregivers to move from activity to activity at their own pace. I then wander the room providing support and modeling scientific questions to attendees. I had four activity stations set up for this program:

  • What’s Magnetic? – I cut egg cartons in half, resulting in cartons with six sections each. I put small objects in each of these six sections: plastic beads, washers, paper clips, pipe cleaners, pom pons, etc. The goal of this activity was to use a magnet on each of the six objects to determine which were magnetic. Then, after sorting into magnetic and non-magnetic piles, they could try to determine what make an object magnetic.
  • Photo by Amy Koester.

    Photo by Amy Koester.

    Can You Make a Magnet Chain? – This activity illustrates that a magnet’s force can be conducted through magnetic objects, thereby creating a chain of objects connected by magnetism. I had a variety of different strength magnets, as well as paper clips and screws (no sharp edges, of course!) for children to try to make the longest chains they could.

  • Magnet Hair Salon – I cut chenille sticks in various colors into pieces about an inch long, and I drew faces on magnetic wands. The activity was to use magnetism to style the magnet wand creatures’ hair out of chenille sticks.
  • Writing with Magnets – I set out several of the library’s magnetic writing boards to invite children to practice their shapes and letters. I also supplied some questions for caregivers to ask their kids while writing, such as how the magnet pen worked to draw on the screen and how the screen eraser worked.

Everyone got to take something home to continue learning about magnets. My take-home activity sheet provided simple instructions for families to create their own magnetic treasure hunts. I also set out a variety of the library’s materials about magnetism, from fiction and nonfiction books to DVDs. Everyone went home happy and a little more knowledgeable about magnets.

Don’t forget to check out the other Preschool Science programs I’ve shared here on the ALSC Blog: Shadow ScienceObservation ScienceGravity ScienceWater ScienceBody ScienceColor ScienceWeather Science, and Strength and Materials Science.

This entry was posted in Blogger Amy Koester, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Magnets and Magnetism: A Preschool Science Program

  1. Renee Perron says:

    Thank you! I’m going to be having all of my preschool story class sessions this summer be STEAM themed. It has been fun lokking for appropriate books, gathering materials, and planning the session. I greatly appreciate this post as well as your others. They are my “go-to” for this summer! Can’t wait to try it with the kids and their families.

  2. Emma says:

    Thank you for this! I have been wanting to use Stuck as a storytime book, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Magnets crossed my mind, but I guess I was trying to be too literal about it.

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