Spaghetti Box Kids

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Kids’ Science: Fun with Magnets- Part 2

March 24th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Magnet activities are a fabulous way to introduce kids to the world of physical sciences. The games are wholesome in nature, easy to set up and fun to play. Best of all, the unusual properties of magnets do a wonderful job keeping your child’s full focus and attention.

Pick up some magnet discs from the hardware aisle of your nearest home improvement store. (Each one is about the size of three pennies in a stack.) A couple dozen is more than enough to get you started. Here are some games and activities to play:

Herd the Sheep: Play this game on your kitchen or dining table. Before the game starts, let your child practice moving a magnet on the tabletop using a stack of magnets under the table. This is very easy to do. Now let your child practice pushing a cotton ball around (using the same procedure). Pushing a cotton ball is the equivalent of herding a sheep in the game to follow.

To play the game, place two magnets approximately eight inches apart on your table top. These are fence posts. Place ten cotton balls on one side of the fence. Place one magnet on the other side of the fence. Now let your child try to herd the sheep through the fence posts. Take care not to get too close to the fence posts or the sheep herder will snag his coat (and the sheep will run away, etc.—). The game ends when all ten sheep have been herded. Use a timer and try to improve the results. (Variation: decorate the landscape using construction paper cut-outs; use string or Popsicle sticks to complete the fence in area where the sheep will be herded.)

Watch You Tube video of Herd the Sheep: game:

Stack the Sticks: Play this game on your kitchen or dining table. Before the game starts, let your child practice moving a Q-tip around using the procedure described above. Once your child is comfortable with this, place ten Q-tips randomly on your table top. Now let your child try to arrange all ten Q-tips neatly into a stack. (Variation: keep in mind that with any of these table top games you can decorate the magnet that sits on top of the table.)

Watch You Tube video of Stack the Sticks: game:

Cotton Ball Table Top Race: To play this game, two players sit on opposite sides of your kitchen or dining table. Tape a piece of string across the table for a start line. Tape another piece of string for the finish line. (Start and finish line should be a foot or so apart.) Now each player places five cotton balls at the start line. Each player also has one magnet on top of the table and a stack under the table (as described above). At the word ‘go’ race to see who can push all five of their cotton balls across the finish line first.

Tin Can Table Top Race: Next time you have canned goods, save the cans. You’ll need them for this activity. To play, use the same start and finish line from the last game, and sit in the same manner. This time, use the stack of magnets under the table to roll a tin can across the finish line. You can also race back and forth three times. To do this, fold a dish towel a little way past the start and finish line in order to stop the can. This will allow the players to easily reverse directions. The first player to travel back and forth three times wins.

Magnet activities for kids are a fun and easy way to introduce your child to the world of physical sciences. During the course of play, your child will come to appreciate some basic magnetic properties (such as polarity as well as the relationship between number of magnets and strength of pull). Don’t be surprised if your child suddenly begins investigating something out of the blue. Try to be flexible. After all, half the fun of the activities is that they arouse curiosity and invite further exploration. Have fun!

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Tags: Kids' Science · Kids’ Activities

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Liza // Mar 25, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Loads of fun! Can’t wait to try herding sheep with my little ones…

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    You bet. I think for parents, the fun part is seeing your child “catch on” and then watching their skills develop. Hope you enjoy the activities. Best of luck—

  • 3 floormodel // Apr 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    what great rainy day activities. My granddaughter’s not quite big enough yet but I’ll look forward to doing them with her in the future.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Good stuff. Keep it in mind. For now you might look for chunky magnets that are age appropriate. All the best—.

  • 5 Liza // Apr 9, 2009 at 5:04 am

    The kids (ages 4 and 6) just loved herding the sheep…
    We added construction paper lakes and fences to enhance the challenge and it was a hoot!

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Wow! I’m glad to hear that. Your variation is excellent. I love the idea of taking something and allowing themes to develop, themes that invite input and imagination and can go in many directions.

    All the best—
    AV

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