Cultivate Wonder

Exploring Science with Children

Opposites Attract: Magnets

Picture Book: Marta’s Magnets by Wendy Pfeffer (Silver Press, 1995) – Though this picture books is a little old, I really like the many ideas for playing with magnets incorporated into the text.


Informational Books: Push and Pull: Learn about Magnets
by Julia Vogel (Child’s World, 2011)Image

Or Magnets Push, Magnets Pull by Mark Weakland (Capstone, 2011)


After sharing the books, we experimented together. Each child took a turn fishing from a bin full of small objects to discover what was magnetic. They made predictions: would it pick up the spoon? the toy car? the coin? the marble? the nail? The fishing poles and objects were left out as a station that children could explore on their own.


We also used a magnet make a paper clip jump and tried to see how long a string of paper clips we could make with a wand-like magnet.

All children were able to make refrigerator magnets to take home.


Several sets of bar magnets were another station where kids could explore polarity. The ends were red and blue, and it was fun to have them try to match ends of the same color together and discover they really wouldn’t stick. In fact, they could push the other magnet around without touching it!


Another station was a train set, as magnets are how the cars stick together. The cars only attach one way to the engine. This station reinforced the idea of polarity — that opposites attract!

Magnets are part of so many toys! We provided building toys with magnets.


And then there are magnetic letters, which are pretty familiar to preschoolers.


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