Muffin tin full of various supplies like googley eyes, plastic bingo chips and paper clips.

Active Play

8 Fun Ways To Play With Magnets

Jun 9, 2017

When you think about magnets, chances are the first thing that pops into your head is your refrigerator. But magnets aren’t just for displaying your kiddo’s latest masterpiece or holding takeout menus  — you can also use them to help your little one learn about science, play games, and even paint a picture. Here are eight fun activities that will help introduce kids to the magic of magnets.

Tip: For several of these activities, we’ve used a magnetic wand, which you can find online. You can also make your own by gluing round magnets to one end of a large wooden craft stick.

A Simple “Will It Stick?” Game

Muffin tin with googly eyes, bingo markers and paper clips.

This is one of the easiest ways to introduce the concept of magnetism to little ones. You’ll need a muffin pan, a variety of magnetic and non-magnetic materials and a magnetic wand. Let little ones guess which items will be attracted to the magnetic wand, and which ones won’t, before they give it a try.

Add an element of surprise to the “will it stick?” game by filling plastic Easter eggs with magnetic and non-magnetic materials. Kids will have fun seeing which eggs stick to their “magic wand” and which ones don’t.

Discovery Bottles

Magnetic wand, plastic bottle, and bingo chips in a plastic container.

Make your sensory bottles even more exciting with some help from magnetic bottle fillers. All you need is an empty plastic bottle, some paperclips or other magnetic material (washers, nuts, or magnetic discs — or a little bit of everything!) and water to fill the bottle. Show your little one how the metal pieces will follow the magnet, and even stick to the other pieces in the bottle. Ask them to see how far they can hold the wand away from the bottle while still making the pieces move. Who knew learning about magnetic fields could be so fun?

(Tip: you can also fill the bottle with baby oil and hot glue the bottle shut, if you’re planning to use it over and over again. If not, be sure to remove any metal from the bottle before it rusts.)

Magnetic Sensory Bins

A magnetic wand uncovers alphabet magnets hidden in a container full of beans.

Sensory bins are a wonderful tool for hands-on learning, and it’s easy to incorporate magnets into bins you already use. For this bin, we’ve buried alphabet magnets in a container of beans for little ones to uncover with a magnetic wand. As letters are found, they can be matched to letters written on a white board or cookie sheet to help strengthen letter recognition skills.

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Painting with Magnets

A painting with all things magentic: paper clips, washers and springs to help paint.

We bet you’ve never painted quite like this before! This activity combines art and science for a cool STEAM project that little ones will love. Setup is easy; you’ll need a plastic container (to keep mess to a minimum), a piece of paper, paint in various colours, magnetic material (washers, paperclips, small springs, etc), and a magnet. Squirt a few drops of paint in different spots on the paper plate and add the magnetic material. Hold the magnet under the container and move it around so that the magnetic material is pulled in different directions, spreading the paint as it goes. One painted masterpiece, no brush required!

Magnetic Fishing Game

Construction paper

Help your little ones work on colour recognition with this simple DIY fishing game. For the fishing pond, you’ll need a collection of colourful construction paper “fish” with paperclips attached, and a baking pan. For the fishing rod, simply tie a magnet to a ruler or wooden BBQ skewer using a piece of string. Call out the colours and see what your wee one can catch.

Build Your Own Robot

Tin can with a face made from googly eyes, washers and paperclips.

Raid your recycling bin for a creative activity that turns tin cans into works of art. Simply glue magnets to random objects like bottle caps, googly eyes, cardboard cutouts and more, and let wee ones use their imagination to turn a boring tin can into the perfect robot pal or an eye-catching sculpture.

Magnetic Craft Sticks

Colourful popsicle sticks with magnets on the ends form a triangle shape.

We love activities that allow for open-ended play and this set of DIY magnetic craft sticks is just that. Have little ones paint wooden craft sticks in various hues and then attach magnets to each end. Paired with a magnetic surface like a white board or cookie sheet, the sticks can be used to create shapes and pictures, as well as strengthening skills like number and colour recognition.

Magnetic Maze

Bookaboo needs to get to his favourite book, but first he has to make it through the maze! Help him get there using magnets with this fun DIY maze craft, complete with printables.


Article Author Alicia McAuley
Alicia McAuley

Read more from Alicia here.

Alicia McAuley is a freelance writer, editor and all-around web nerd who never met a pop culture reference she didn't like. The former editor of a parenting website, these days she shares a home office in the suburbs with her husband, two adorable boys, and two lazy cats. You can find her cracking jokes on Twitter @aliciamcauley and pinning projects for her to-do list on Pinterest.

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