Magnets! What’s the Attraction?
Children of all ages have a natural “attraction” to magnets. Even young students can learn facts about magnets and related vocabulary. When demonstrating magnets use words like attract and repel and then allow time for exploration with individual magnets. Challenge students to be detectives when searching for things that are attracted to the magnet.
Lesson Plan for Day One
- Student will be able to orally define the vocabulary words: magnet, attract and repel.
- After listening to a story and watching a demonstration, the student will be able to write or draw two things about magnets.
- Book about magnets
- Two bar magnets (horseshoe magnets could also work)
- Writing Journal or paper, pencils, crayons
Branley, Franklyn. What Makes a Magnet? Harper Collins, 1996.
Fowler, Allan. What Magnets Can Do (Rookie Read-About Science). Children’s Press, Inc. 1995.
Magnet: An object containing iron or steel that can stick to metal or make other metal objects move towards itself.
Attract: A force, which makes things move together or stay together
Repel: To move something away
Show students the book you are about to read. Explain that it is a nonfiction book, which means that it has real information. When reading, pay particular attention to the new vocabulary. Use hand gestures to indicate attract (pull) and repel (push away) and ask students to imitate you. Answer questions and discuss key points of the book.
Next tie the string around the center of a bar magnet so that, when you dangle it, the magnet remains parallel to the floor. Tell the students that the magnet has a north and a south pole (This has probably been mentioned in the book you have used.). Demonstrate what happens when the north pole and the south pole are close. They pull or stick together. They attract each other. Now demonstrate what happens when both north poles are together. They push apart or repel each other. Call on a few students to hold the magnets and do the demonstration.
Instruct students to write or draw two things that they learned today. You may ask them to share their work with you or with another student.
Lesson Plan Day Two
- Student will listen and respond to a poem about magnets.
- Students will review the vocabulary: magnet, repel and attract.
- Students will explore the room with an individual magnet following the safety instructions given by the teacher.
- Copy of the “Magnets” poem
- A variety of magnets, one for each student
- Table with paper clips, coins, pieces of steel wool. nails, aluminum foil, rubber band, plastic spoon, stainless steel spoon, paper, and other small objects
Read the poem one time through to the students. Then read it again adding some hand movements. Ask your students to say it with you.
I am a mighty magnet.
I can be very strong.
(show your muscles)
But if you use me exactly right
Nothing can go wrong.
(shake head no)
I can pick up many objects
But not everything you see.
I only pick up objects
That will attract to me.
(smack hands together)
So take me now and try me out
And you will quickly see,
What different kinds of things
Are pushed and pulled by me!
(push both hands away and then pull them toward you)
Explain to the class that you are going to allow them to be detectives! They will each have a magnet and they can explore the room to find objects that the magnet will attract.
Provide a table of objects that they can explore, too. You may suggest that they try to see how many paper clips their magnet can pick up at one time or how many papers can be held to the magnetic white board without them sliding off. After 10 minutes ask them to trade magnets with another student to see if there are differences in the strength of the magnets.
Before handing out the magnets, discuss the safety rules:
- Do not put the magnets in your mouth.
- Do not put the magnets on or near the computers or telephone.
After an appropriate length of time, call the students together to discuss the discoveries they made.
Place six objects on a table and call each student up individually to point to the items that a magnet will attract. Suggestion of objects might be: paper clip, tack or pin, book, crayon, scissors, metal spoon, plastic spoon.
Provide magnet activities in centers for the students to use in small groups. Encourage the correct use of the vocabulary words.
Suggested products to purchase:
- Magnet Science by Toysmith
- Magnetic Building Construction Set by Magformers
- Fun with Magnets by Patch Products
- Imaginets by Mind Ware
Suggested items to prepare yourself:
- Create a treasure hunt. Fill a large box with sand and hide objects that are attracted to a magnet. Provide a magnet, a piece of paper and a pencil and instruct the students to draw pictures of what they found.
- Make a fishing pole with a stick. Attach a long string with a magnet at the end. Cut out fish shapes and write sight words or numbers on each fish. When the students catch a fish they must say the number or the word that they caught in order to keep it.
- Magnets can be enjoyed in a variety of ways throughout the year. Continue to use the learned vocabulary with the students and you will find they will begin naturally using the words themselves.