Activities with magnets for preschoolers

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Activities with magnets for preschoolers
Preschoolers practice spelling with magnetic letters. (alphabet image by Blue Moon from Fotolia.com)

A magnet's "magical" stickiness appeals to preschoolers. Children are curious about how magnets work and why they will stick to some things and not to others. Teachers can incorperate the use of magnets of various shapes and sizes to hold a child's interest throughout learning activites. Indulge your preschool kids' love of all things magnetic with learning activities featuring magnets.

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Magnetic Words

Place two or three full sets of plastic upper and lower case magnetic letters in a box. You can find sets of letters at dollar stores or in the toy section of discount department stores. Put the box of letters on a table and set out two metal pizza pans. Show the children how to stick combinations of letters onto the pans to spell words. Write sight words--common words that children learn to recognise without sounding out or using context clues--on index cards for the children to practice. Challenge youngsters by changing the words on the cards to fit classroom themes and special days on the calendar. Adapt this activity for two-year olds by asking them to find specific letters to place on the pan. Older preschoolers, ages four or five, may compose lists of rhyming words or words that share the same beginning sound.

Magnet Fishing

Make a simple and useful magnetic fishing pole to use in your classroom. Attach a 1-inch diameter disc shaped magnet to a 3-foot length of kite string. Tie the string securely around the magnet and reinforce it with a strip of duct tape to hold the string and the magnet firmly together. Attach the other end of the string to the end of a 1/2-inch diameter wooden dowel rod, available at home improvement stores. Cut two fish shapes each from primary coloured 9 by 12-inch construction paper. Make one or two fish for each child in the class. Write the child's first name on the paper fish and attach a standard size metal paper clip to each one. Place the fish inside a hula-hoop on the classroom floor. Children take turns fishing for their first names.

Magnetic Food

Explain to the class that iron is a mineral found naturally in or added to our food by the people who manufacture it. Crush one cup of iron-fortified cereal and place the crushed cereal in a zipper bag. Crush saltine crackers, crisp cookies and other food items to add to more zipper baggies. Label all the baggies with the name of the contents inside. Let preschoolers press a magnet to the baggies one at a time to see if the food contains enough iron for it to be magnetic. Make a chart to display the results of your experiment.

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