Explore the World: Magnets

In response to the STEAM movement (and with great thanks to such great inspiration & encouragement from colleagues: Amy, Abby, and Kendra), this past fall I started a STEAM storytime series at the library. This is primarily aimed at preschoolers and their families, registration open to ages 3-7 in our library.


Books & Group Activities

Opening Activity
Building blocks from Kendra.
“Building Blocks”
(Tune of Good Night Ladies)
Hello ________
Hello ________
Hello ________
Come build something with your blocks!



A Look at Magnets by Barbara Alpert
Push and Pull! Learn About Magnets by Julia Vogel

I shared just a few books today about magnets. I think the best thing that I did was use two magnets for a demonstration where I invited each child up to feel the push and pull of the magnets. I also did a special magnet board with “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” which I got from Anne’s Library Life. While I did the story, I didn’t let the kids see what I was doing and once I had finished telling the story, I turned the board around and let them see the “magic”.

Once we finished the group portion, it was time to move to the station activities.

Station Activities

Before I run down the activity stations, I do want to highlight the products I did wind up purchasing for this program: Magnet Mania Science Kit & Super Magnet Classroom Lab Kit.

Buried Treasure
There are our dishpans again, ha! I buried all of counting chips in some sand from our sand art surplus. The kids used the magnet wands to uncover buried treasure. They also had a great time chaining their counting chips and trying to build the longest chain of chips. I overheard some great conversations about why the chips had magnetic properties when touching the magnet wands from some of the parents!

Magnetic Fishing
I used our Lakeshore Learning set and just let the kids go to town fishing for letters. What I really enjoyed were the interactions and cooperative play that I saw with the kids as they worked together to find the letters to spell their names.

Marble Painting
The biggest undertaking I’ve ever done before. I actually had two of our pages come downstairs with me specifically to supervise this station. I found out all the instructions for this program at Let’s Explore, via Abby the Librarian. Our set-up involved large oval paper plates and some recycled tape rolls to prop them up. To make this an easier station, I pre-cut wax paper sheets that the kids could keep their shapes on and so the pages could easily re-set each paint station for another kid quickly without too much mess.

Magnet Exploration
This was an easy station — I put out all the extra magnets and supplies from the kits and let the kids play. I had quite a few kids that were fascinated with the pull/push aspects and spent a lot of time reversing the polarities to push magnets around the table.

Crazy Hair Station
This station came from Abby at Abby the Librarian and I just absolutely loved it from the very beginning. It was probably the station that I was most looking forward to! Luckily, the kids loved it too. I have a lot of great pictures with their smiling faces and their magnet crazy hair creations. Super simple to cut up some pipe cleaners — I did use the skinny ones, with less fuzz. This is absolutely the station that kids kept coming back to over and over again for one last crazy hair creation!

Take-Home Activities

Since there are not a ton of books for the preschool age on magnets and magnetism, I did skip the display this time around. Instead, I handed out small baggies with supplies to test magnetism at home. I also handed out these take-home packets as they left. Inside there’s an activity page and a coloring page.

Feel free to pin whatever pictures you want, but I did make another Pinterest friendly collage!


Coming soon…Size Science and Snow Science!

4 comments on “Explore the World: Magnets

  1. Meg
    April 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this! We are gearing up for Fizz! Boom! Read! and this is just the sort of programming we’ll be developing. Can’t wait to see the others.

  2. Sarah
    April 11, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Since this is a program geared to your 3-7 year olds, do you hold this program in the morning or after school? I am trying to start something similar for this age group and I am going back and forth on the “perfect” time of day.


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