Skip to main content

Are you looking for some educational indoor activities? Have you tried magnets? There are lots of ways to have fun with magnets! In this article, we will show you how to set up some exciting activities using magnets. Magnets are used in various ways, including technology and art. Your kids will have fun playing and learning as they explore these experiments and art projects.

What Are Magnets?

Magnets are objects that produce a magnetic field, which is a force that can attract or repel certain materials. This field is created by the movement of electrically charged particles within the magnet, such as the electrons in the atoms that make up the magnet.

There are different types of magnets, including:

  • Permanent magnets always keep their magnetic properties.
  • Temporary magnets only have magnetic properties when magnetized or when within a magnetic field.

When you’re doing activities with magnets for kids, ask them what kind of magnet they’re working with. Older students will be able to tell whether a magnet is permanent or temporary. They can even make their own magnets if you try our compass project!

Make A Compass

girl finding directions using a compass

One of the interesting things about magnets is that they are polarized, meaning that they tend to point to what we call magnetic north. In this experiment, kids can make their own compass by turning a needle into a magnet!

You Will Need

  • A paperclip, sewing needle, or bobby pin to create a compass needle
  • A small bowl of water

What To Do

Magnetize the compass needle by rubbing it with the magnet. Stroke the needle in the same direction (not back and forth) about 30-40 times. You can check if it’s been magnetized by touching it to a non-magnetized paper clip or similar ferrous object. If it sticks, it’s ready.

If you’re using a paperclip, straighten it out before you do this. It will make the compass work more easily.

Place the needle in or on the cork. If you use a sewing needle, you can insert horizontally into the edge of the piece of cork so that the needle pierces through the cork and comes out the other side. If you used a bobby pin or paperclip, just place it on top of the cork so that it’s evenly balanced in the middle.

Float the compass in your bowl of water. The magnetized needle will align itself with the earth’s magnetic field to point north to south.

Build A Magnetic Maze

a blue game piece in a magnetic maze activity

In this magnet activity, kids will use a magnet to bring a metal object through a maze.

It’s especially good if you have kids of different grade levels– older kids can have fun designing the maze for their younger siblings.

You Will Need

  • A metal object like a paperclip
  • Thin cardboard (like cardstock or a paper plate) to make a character
  • Thin cardboard for the maze itself
  • Markers and pens to decorate the maze

What To Do

Draw a maze on the cardboard. It can be as simple or complicated as is appropriate for your students.

On the thin cardboard, draw a character. A bug, a car, a smiley face, or something that’s appropriate to the theme of the maze. Kids can make whatever they want.

Put the character on the maze and put the paperclip on top of the character.

Place the paperclip at the start of your maze and the magnet underneath the maze.

As you move the magnet, the character will move too!

Ask kids what happens if you flip the magnet over. Can the character move without the paperclip? Let kids experiment with different types of magnets and holding the magnet further or closer to the maze.

Make Gravity-Defying Magnetic Art

child coloring space picture to use in a magnetic art activity

This fun art project uses the power of magnets to suspend a piece of the art in the air! The youngest kids might need some help with the cutting and string, while older kids will be able to do that part on their one.

You Will Need

  • Cardboard box
  • Thin cardboard or cardstock
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Markers and art supplies to decorate
  • Paper clip

What To Do

Draw a scene inside the cardboard box. The theme could be underwater, outer space, or an outdoors scene with a sky that something can fly in. You can use colored paper for the background.

Cut out a small cardstock circle and draw a picture on one side. If you did an underwater scene, this could be a fish; for outer space, a rocket. Or whatever your kid wants to draw!

Tape the paper clip to the back of the cardstock.

Cut a length of string to about the same length as the height of the box.

Tie one end of the string to the paper clip and tape the other to the bottom of the box. After taping, the string length should be about half an inch shorter than the box.

Place the magnet on top of the box.

Hold the paper clip just under the magnet. The paper clip will float in the air, defying gravity and creating a floating element in your art project!

Find Out How Much Iron Is Really In Your Cereal

a variety of cereals to use in a science experiment

This classic science experiment is a great way to teach kids about the body’s need for iron and why we add it to food. Explain to kids that we need iron to be healthy, and talk about how it helps produce red blood cells and transports oxygen in our bodies. Ask them how they think we get iron– they might not believe that we eat metal! Then, show them that you can actually extract the iron in cereal with a magnet.

You Will Need

  • Food processor
  • Iron-enriched cereal
  • White paper
  • Ziplock bag
  • Water

What To Do

Pour out one serving of iron-enriched dry cereal. Pass the magnet over the flakes. Are they pulled up by the magnet?

Crush the cereal in the food processor until it becomes a fine powder.

Pour the cereal powder onto the white paper in a thin layer.

Run the magnet closely over the top and through the cereal powder. Is the magnet picking up any tiny black particles? That’s iron!

Ask kids how much iron they got out of the cereal. What does it look like? How small are the particles?

To get more iron particles, pour the cereal powder into the ziplock bag.

Fill the bag halfway with hot water and seal it.

Gently swish the bag until the cereal powder has dissolved.

Drop your magnet into the bag and continue to swish.

Take the magnet out and look closely at the surface. Were you able to get more iron?

To take this experiment further, try it with different types of cereals. See how much iron you collect from each kind. Then, compare your findings with the nutrition labels on the boxes. Can you get more iron from cereals that say they contain lots of iron?

Magnet Train

multi colored paper clips to use in magnet activity

Not all magnets are equally strong! In this experiment, kids will test the strength of the magnetic field produced by various types of magnets by seeing how many paperclips a magnet can hold and pull. This is a good STEM magnet project because it requires kids to make a hypothesis (guess how many paper clips each magnet can hold) and to test that hypothesis with different magnets.

You Will Need

What To Do

Gather magnets of several different strengths and ask kids which one they think is the strongest. Explain that when a magnet touches a ferrous object, that object will also have magnetic properties. (Ferrous means “containing iron,” and metal objects containing iron will be attracted to magnets.)

Kids should make some predictions about how the experiment will go. Which magnet will hold the most paper clips? Which one will hold the fewest? How many will each one hold?

Hold each magnet over a pile of paperclips. How many paperclips does each one pull up?

Lay out paper clips end to end behind a magnet, making sure that the ends are touching. How long of a paperclip train can you make behind each magnet before the paperclips stop sticking to each other?

Hold a magnet up in the air and try to dangle a line of paperclips from it. How long of a line of paperclips can each magnet hold up? The longer the line, the stronger the magnetic field.

child touching STEM blocks

Exploring the world of magnets can be an exciting and educational experience. Magnets are a great way to introduce kids to STEM concepts and experimentation. STEM allows kids to explore and develop their natural curiosity. So why not get your hands on some magnets and start exploring the amazing world of magnetic forces today? Check out our website and youtube channel for lots of fun lesson plans and videos! Happy Learning!