Fridge magnets are great fun, we seem to have an extensive collection. They come free from lots of government departments and we have the usual letters and numbers, plus they’re a cheap and fairly guilt free gift because I know we’ll get lots of use out of them. There are so many games to play and questions you can ask with magnets:
- What will it stick to?
After showing them a few things just give them a magnet and step back. Even baby girl will happily wander around trying to get it to stick to things, including chairs, cupboards, the fridge, washing machine, cutlery, pencils, … The trick is to make sure there are a few things around that will be successful so they don’t lose interest. Older kids should be able to come up with a rule and make some predictions.
Big girl loves making words.
- What happens with two magnets?
This flows naturally from the first question. Two magnets are great fun, because one way they will attract each other, then other way they repel. It’s a really weird feeling to hold them and have them pushing apart!
- What about moving things?
This is a variation that can be done with something thin, alfoil or baking paper, even cellophane works well. Basically by putting small magnetic things on top and a magnet underneath you can move things around. Using something like pins or paperclips you can make chains if your magnet is strong enough. Or if you have one magnet on top and one underneath you can shepherd it around the page.
What is happening?
Magnets have a north and south pole. The magnetic field or force travels from the north pole to the south. This can be seen really easily with iron filings on a piece of paper with a magnet underneath. If you have a steel wool scourer you can break it up into little tiny pieces and it works really well. Sprinkle it on the paper and tap gently.
This can be used to explain why unlike poles attract each other and like poles repel, if you remember that field lines cannot cross each other:
Unlike poles attract.
Like poles push apart because those field lines coming out of the north poles cannot cross or touch each other.
Have you played games with magnets?
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