Click for Resource Room

rainbow kids
Rainbow Resource Room


Click for Activity Central
resource line
Click the Rainbow for The Rainbow Resource Room
Click the Schoolhouse for Activity Central
resource line



There are 2 black & white printable coloring pages of Magnets associated with this theme. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

1. Magnetic Attraction / Pull
2. Magnetic Building

Background Information: The Rule of Magnetism
1. Like poles repel and unlike poles attract.
    a. Lines of force are three dimensional, surrounding a bar magnet on all sides. 
    b. When opposite poles of a magnet are brought together, the lines of force 
           join up and the magnets pull together. 
    c. When like poles of a magnet are brought together, the lines of force push 
          away from each other and the magnets repel each other. 

The discovery of magnets was very important as they are used to make electric motors and generators. Things that would disappear if we had no electricity are telephones, lights, electric heat, computers and televisions. 

During magnet activities children should:
    * be able to classify objects into magnetic and non-magnetic categories 
    * be aware that magnets are surrounded by an invisible form of energy 
    * be aware that magnets push and pull to change how something is moved 

magnetismScience: Magnets
Jo-Ann M. offers the following advice for early childhood educators. 
When children play with magnets they will discover that magnets have poles, 
that vary in strength, and that they are attracted to a certain kind of materials. 

Magnets are familiar to most children, few have had the opportunity for extensive purposeful play with a wide variety of magnets and materials. The more children are able to play with different kinds of magnets and materials, the more their minds will magnetically attract new questions and theories.  Magnets are both reasonably priced and durable. Set up everything at a table or on the floor.  It's not important to teach any terms, you can facilitate their wondering with some of your own and join in on the play.

Suggested Materials:
Various kinds of magnets
Nuts, bolts, and other little pieces of  metal and nonmetal objects
Paper clips
Bingo chips with metal rings
One source of free magnets is a broken VCR or any other piece of electronic equipment.

Magnet Wands
Stacy encourages youngsters to create their own magnetic wands to use as they develop their classification skills. 

Materials: Tongue depressors, markers, stickers, magnets (with adhesive backing).

Description: After demonstrating how magnets work, allow students to make their
own magnetic wands.   Each student will have a tongue depressor with their name 
printed on it.  Students may decorate their wand with markers and stickers. I use foil stickers.  Students can peel the adhesive backing off of a magnet and stick it onto their wand.  Students can explore the classroom, the school and their own home to find objects that are magnetic.

Magnetic Bottles
Three teachers share how they create magnetic bottles and stimulate preschool children's interest in science. 

1. Ella M.
Materials: Magnet wands or bingo magnets, magnet marbles or nails, screws, bottle caps or any small metal objects & 2 litter plastic pop bottles.

Description: Remove the wrapping from two or three 2 litter plastic pop bottles.
Place the small metal objects inside the pop bottles and secure the lids. Have the children rub the magnetic wands over the outside of the pop bottle and the magnets will pick up the metal objects through the plastic. Explain in simple terms how magnets work.

2. Jayne
Materials: Plastic pop bottle (small), magnetic marbles, magnetic wand, water, and a
couple of non-magnetic items.

Description: Take the label off a clean pop bottle, place 2-3 magnetic marbles, 2-3 
non magnetic objects into the bottle and fill the bottle with water. Place the lid on very tight. Teachers / adults can hot glue the lid to the bottle.
Place the bottle & 1 wand in your science center. Children love to move the marbles 
around. Talk about why  some marbles move & others don't.

3. Molly 
Materials: 16 oz. bottle, baby oil, water, paper clips and a magnetic wand.

Description: Pour baby oil and water in a bottle.  Place paper clips inside the 
bottle and put the lid on tight.  Now let the kids use the magnetic wand to move 
the paper clips inside the bottle.

Magnet Painting
Young children become aware that magnets push and pull to change how something is moved while painting and using hand eye coordination during this magnetic activity by Patty C

Materials: A piece of Plexiglas (I use a clear water table cover),
Magnet wand 
Magnetic balls
Paint - washable
Large blocks 

Description: Place the Plexiglas on top of the blocks to raise it off of the table.  Put paper on top of the Plexiglas with drops of colored paint on top of the paper..  Magnetic balls then go on top. children proceed to paint by using the magnetic wand under the Plexiglas to move the balls throughout the paint.

Comments: We only mix 2 colors but more colors would produce more interest. 

Magnet Art
Connie promotes creativity during this variation of painting with magnets. 

Materials: Two chairs, benches or blocks, 
A piece of Plexiglas (11 x 14 or larger),
A magnetic wand or a strong magnet
Metal objects such as washers, nuts, bolts or metal balls.
Washable tempera paint
Paper and tape

Description: Place Plexiglas across two chairs, benches or blocks so there is 
enough open space in between for the child's arm to move freely under the 
Plexiglas. Tape the paper on top of the Plexiglas. Dip washers and other metal objects in tempera paint and place on the paper. Hold the magnet wand under the Plexiglas and begin moving the magnet. The magnet will begin moving the metal objects around the paper to create a picture. 

Magnetic Construction
Eileen encourages youngsters to build using magnets which helps them to become aware that magnets are surrounded by an invisible form of energy that can pull. 

Materials: Assorted nuts and bolts, magnet bars.

Description: Use the nuts & bolts to build with on top of the magnet bars.  Ask children how many nuts can they stack before they lose their magnetic pull. You will be able to build horizontally also with a few of the nuts.

Push and Pulls: An Experiment in Force
Students experiment with "pushes" and "pulls" as a force that causes motion during this activity from Tish.

Materials: Various items such as magnets, straws, string, tinker toys,
3 x 5 cards, cups, hangers bent to make a hook (cover the ends with masking tape to avoid sharp edges), boards to make inclined planes, blocks, etc. and small toys such as stuffed animals, metal toys, cars etc.

Description: Provide various materials such as those suggested above. 
Explain to the group that their job is to push or pull the toy (such as a 
stuffed animal) without touching it with their hands.  Ask them how they can use 
the materials to push and pull the toy in different ways.  If you supply a metal 
toy be sure to discuss the magnet after they have had an opportunity to 
experiment.  Let the children share the various ways that they "invented" to push
and pull the toy.

Comments: They love this activity and are very creative!

Magnet Tubes 
Denise B. encourages youngsters to explore the Push & Pull of magnets by using a teacher made tube. 

Materials: A long plastic fluorescent lighting tube which is available in electrical 
departments & stores. Small metal objects: paper clips, iron filings, matchbox cars etc. masking tape and a strong magnet.

Description: Remove the cover from one end of the plastic tube and add your 
metal objects. Replace the cover and secure both ends with masking tape so children cannot remove the objects. Tape the tube to a wall either vertically (more difficult for children) or horizontally. Allow children to run the magnet along the length of the tube to move the objects inside. 

Comments: These tubes are very popular with the children, you may want to make 
more than one. The plastic tubes are sold in different lengths so you can vary 
the challenge. 

Magnetic Holiday Gift Idea
Katherine C. offers this poem & magnetic art idea that can be used for a variety of holiday gift giving occasions. 

Materials: WASHABLE PAINT- colors depending on the holiday.
Red and green for Christmas. Pink or blue for mother's or father's day etc.
THICK PAPER- thick enough so paint from hand prints won't go through.

Here my hand prints are done
For everyone to view.
I had so much fun
Doing this for you.

So look upon this hand print plaque
Hanging on your wall,
And memories will come back
Of me when I was small.

You can either frame the poem or add a border around it

Description: When I do my lesson I have the kids choose if they want to use blue or pink paint.  I have them place their hands in the paint and then on the paper. I make sure their hands don't cover the poem. The size of the children's hands determines if you can place the border on before or after their hand prints are on the paper. I use the border instead of frames and place magnets on the back so it can hang on the refrigerator.

Comments: The activity is lots of fun and the parents & grandparents love the idea.

Magnetic Name
Encourage preschool children to recognize their names and the letters of the alphabet with this magnetic activity from Julie

Materials: Students names written on index cards or pieces of sentence strips. 
Uppercase and lowercase magnetic letters and a cookie sheet. 

Description: Model for students 
1.  Place name card at the top of the cookie sheet 
2. Find the capital letter that the name begins with and place it on the cookie 
3. Find the next letter and so on.

Magnetic Shape Game 
Preschool and kindergarten children explore shapes while using magnets and following directions in this game from Ellyn

Materials: Enough shapes for each child. You can use hearts, pumpkins, apples etc.
depending on the season. A magnet and paper clips.

Description: On each shape, describe an activity for the child to do.
Examples include: hop 5 times; skip 3 times; turn around 2 times, etc. 
If possible, laminate the shapes, they last longer. 
Place a paper clip on each shape and put them into a box or container. 
Using the magnet, have each child go fishing for a shape.
Most children can recognize the number (I usually use 1-5). The teacher 
will have to read the activity. The child must try to follow the directions carefully. 

Comments: The children love it.  he funnier the activity is, the more excited 
the children get. Be creative.

Graph: "What is our Favorite?" 
Annette C. shares this weekly activity saying, "This is a language and math activity. The children choose their favorite thing from a field of three. After the children choose, teachers and children discuss which category has more, less, and the same. We also count the amount in each group."

Materials: There are two ways to use this activity.
1.  If you have access to a magnetic board for the entire year- metal lids from 
    frozen juice cans, pictures of the children, magnets, border and sentence strips.

2.  If you do not have access to a magnetic board- outlines of boys and girls, 
     velcro, 2 poster boards and sentence strips.

1.  Prepare the board:
Magnetic: put three magnet strips horizontal across the board  about 12" apart. Separate with the border. Print "What is your Favorite" on the sentence strip and tape to the top of the board.

Velcro: Tape construction paper lines (divide board into three sections) to the poster board. Laminate the 2 poster boards and then tape them together. Place velcro pieces onto the boards- space them so the boy/ girl outlines will fit.

2. Magnetic: Cut out and glue the children's pictures to the side of the lid with the rim.
Velcro: Have the children color their outlines (boys color boys and girls color girls). Print the child's name across the chest of the outline. Laminate and cut out each outline. Put a square of velar on the back of each outline. I also put a square of Velcro on the child's cubbie to store the outlines when not in use.

3. Magnetic and Velcro: Choose three items pertaining to the weeks' theme. Place 
one in each section- on the far left.

4. At circle time, Discuss the items you choose (i.e. Apple week- red, yellow and green apples- we tasted all three first). Have the children put their outlines or lids beside their favorite.

5. After all children choose: Count the amount in each group, discuss more, less and same. Leave up for the rest of the week.

Comments: Examples of choices: Three types of vehicles for Transportation week,
pumpkins with different faces, colors, different dinosaurs, foods usually eaten at Thanksgiving, etc.

Magnetic Characters for Storytelling
Shelly suggests using magnetic characters to promote verbal skills and imagination. 

Materials: Laminate pictures of popular characters taken from children's magazines and back with a piece of magnetic tape (inexpensive at craft stores).
A cookie sheet and paper to document the stories that children dictate.

Description: In a Quiet Area put characters in a small plastic tub and have a 
cookie sheet available or hung in the room for children to put the characters on. 
Ask children open ended questions to encourage storytelling and document what 
they dictate to you.

Comments: It is very helpful to know what popular characters the children in 
your class are interested in.  If children are excited and interested they are more apt to manipulate the provided materials.  I always like to save the stories the children have dictated to either make a class book, share at parent - teacher conferences and / or send home with their end of the year book.

Ideas for Puzzles with Missing Pieces
If you've ever wondered what to do with all those old puzzles, recycle them with  these tips from Leonie in Australia.

Materials: Felt, magnets, glue and black board paint.

1.  With old puzzle boards turned over to the flat side glue on pieces of 
     felt, Whoopee, you have an individual felt board.
2.  For the puzzles pieces - glue or stick a magnet on the center of each puzzle 
     piece and let dry over night.  Use on a magnetic easel, cookie sheet or even on 
     the garage door like we do at our center in Sydney.
3.  Paint the flat side of the board with black board paint. Whoopee again, you 
     have chalk boards.

Comments:  My director said that in 20 years of working in Child Care in 
Australia, she had never seen a child care worker use the storeroom garage for an activity.

Ice Cream Cone Magnets
Children recognize shapes and colors as they gain experience with cutting skills 
during this magnetic craft activity from Tamara.

Materials: Multicolored foamies (make sure you get white and brown), white glue,
magnets (the sticky kinds) and child safety scissors.

Description: Children and teachers cut the brown foam into triangles. Then cut circles of different sizes. The amounts to cut depend on the number of children doing the activity and how many "scoops of ice cream" you would like each child to have. The children glue the "cone" and the "scoops" together. After they have dried, add the self adhesive magnets. Put on the fridge.

Go Fishing
Children classify objects into magnetic and non-magnetic categories when Danielle B. introduces the concept of iron and steel. Children use eye hand coordination, observation and prediction skills during this sorting activity. 

Materials: Wooden dowels, paper towel holders or wooden spoons, pieces of string 
cut into 3 foot lengths, magnets, metal objects that can be picked up by magnets,
two boxes labeled separately Yes and  No.

Description: Explain to children that you will be playing a fishing game. Have the child predict if the object will be attracted to the magnet or not. Each child then takes a turn fishing an object out of the box.  Place the objects in the appropriate marked boxes. 
When the group is finished ask, "Why did the magnets catch these things?" "Why didn't these things get caught?"  Discuss the subject of metal, iron, and steel

Extensions - For fun attach objects to fish shapes or add numbers or colored fish to enhance other skills.

Decorate a Magnet for Displays
Karen C. offers this idea saying, "This is a wonderful way for the kids to make something for themselves and for their parents. It will be treasured for years.
This is also a wonderful fine motor skill activity."

Materials: Thin cardboard paper or construction paper, magnetic strip, markers, or crayons.

Description: Give each child a piece of thin cardboard paper or construction 
paper.  The size depends on the size of the magnetic strips you are using. Have the 
kids color, with either markers or crayons, a pretty picture of their choosing on 
the paper.  Then apply the magnetic strip to the back of the thin paper. The kids have now decorated a magnet that parents can use to hang their children's pictures.
A great way to show off their child's art work.

Comments: My co-teacher Elizabeth and I  have used this magnet to hang up the 
kids art work around the room. It is wonderful and the kids love to show off their work to everyone who comes in the room.

Becky S. suggests the Giant Magnet Book as a great resource for teachers. 

Meteor Magnets
During this sorting activity by Kari K. children sort objects into the categories of those that can be picked up by magnet and those that can't. They also sort objects by physical composition (e.g.. metal, rock, soil).

Materials: Several small magnets, small boxes containing loose dirt, sand, gravel, cloth, paper, etc. and white paper.

Description: Invite the children to join you and explain that you are going to look for materials from outer space.

1.  Give each child (or small group of children) a magnet and a sheet of white paper.
2.  Invite the children to drag the magnets slowly through the materials in one of 
     the boxes.
3. Have the children deposit any particles that stick to the magnets onto the paper.
4. Ask the children why they think some particles stuck and some didn't.
5. Repeat Steps 2-4 for each box.
6. Have them lift their paper, move their magnets under it, and observe what
7. Explain that the particles are attracted to the magnets because they are made of 
   metal, and that some of them (approximately 20%) are from meteorites that
   fell to Earth.
So some of the particles really ARE materials from outer space!



E-mail GayleE-mail Gayle  to include your favorite pre-school activity
in this theme!
Click the Rainbow for The Rainbow Resource Room
Click for Resource RoomClick the Schoolhouse for Activity CentralClick for Activity Central
Search the Preschool Rainbow
Click to Search
To the Top

preschool rainbow activity bar