Magnets are incredible tools for learning. We have tons of magnets around here, and all of them promote different yet very important skills. Since we use and love magnets so often, I decided I would share our favorites. As I started going through our magnetic activities, I kept finding more and more and more! Apparently I am a magnet hoarder. And I even want more — I may need a magnet intervention!
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I know that you all have common sense and supervise play, but I am just putting out an extra reminder to please be sure to use extra caution with magnets around children who may be tempted to swallow them. When a child swallows two magnets, immediate attention is required. You can read more about it in this article from the NY Times.
If you are ever in doubt, err on the side of caution and safety :).
We have two main magnet sets that we use all the time!
The Magnet Attraction set is the first one, and it has a magnet powered car that the children can actually move around (which is also a super cool STEM activity). Plus there are floating magnets, magnet wands, and iron filing cases.
The second set we use each week is the Super Magnet Lab. I put many of the magnets in our magnetic discovery bottles, and I also let the children use them on a learning tray. It’s amazing how long they will explore the magnets on their tray, and sometimes the children even go silent because they are so focused. You could also make a magnet sensory bin. See how my friend Asia made hers at Fun at Home with Kids.
Magnets that Promote Building
Perhaps this goes without saying, but Magna-tiles are amazing! This is totally a splurge item, but once you buy it, you see what a necessity it was all along. Keep in mind that magnet sets that are different brands do not work with one another, unfortunately. I think the ratings on Magna-tiles speak for themselves! If you are wondering if they are worth the money, you will definitely want to read those. I have also heard that Picasso Tiles work equally as well, but we don’t have that exact set.
These Better Builders are super fun too! We like to find things around the room that are magnetic (table legs, bullnose corners on the wall, etc.) and stick them on them…in addition to building with them.
Magnets for Sensory Exploration
This one below is made of iron filings and mineral oil. You could just use iron filings without any oil even. I used about 1/4 of the container of iron filings, and put mineral oil the rest of the way in (***and super glued it closed***). My daughter loves to watch the filings flow through the oil and calls them “monster boogers.” The star is a magnet as well, and as you can see, the iron filings hold it onto the discovery bottle. If I remember where I found that magnet, I will add a link for it too. I apologize for the mom brain!!
Magnets that Promote Math Skills
Apparently my magnet collection is lacking in this area. We don’t have any of these magnetic puzzles, but they are definitely on our wish list. Some of the ones below I discovered because we play with them at our local library. They could go in a math center, library area, a cozy corner, or anywhere really. I love the fine motor skills that are developed too. Take a look:
Here are some more great math magnets! They would go great with a magnetic surface, and I will share about the ones we have right below these.
Magnetic Surfaces and Pieces
We have a magnetic easel and an IKEA magnet board. An oil drip pan would also work! These are available at most automotive stores or Wal-Mart for a very reasonable price too. Here is an easel, which doubles as a dry-erase board.
Here is what we use on our magnetic surfaces:
Plus we love to put personalized magnets on them too!
Themed and Unit Magnets
We love these magnets for units on camping or the ocean!
We want these magnets for the next time we do a space theme:
Magnetic rocks are perfect for a rock or gemstone unit. Do be extra careful with these though! I would not risk it around children who mouth toys as it is highly dangerous if a child swallows two of them. I also use these to hang art on the refrigerator.
These are the smaller sets and individual magnets that we love:
Magnets That Promote Writing and Fine Motor Skills
We also want to try this dry-erase magnetic tape. My friend Jamie uses something similar for her name folders!
I am probably forgetting some magnets, but this at least gives you a glimpse as to how often and how many ways you can easily and daily use magnets for learning. There are endless opportunities! What is your favorite magnetic play activity or idea?