Magnets in the sensory table make for a quick, easy STEM activity that kids absolutely love! Sensory play meets Science for extra fun.
Sensory play meets Science with this easy STEM activity
There are a few things I know with absolute, complete certainty.
Something I’m 100000% sure of: kids 👏🏼 love 👏🏼 magnets. 👏🏼
They LOVE ‘em.
And honestly, what’s not to love, especially when you’re a kid? You’re holding a magnet wand in one hand, a paperclip in the other, and without even trying, they “stick” together. It’s mysterious and dramatic and right-before-your-eyes and it’s always a winner with kids.
Related: Looking for another show-stopper? Our GIANT 10-foot coloring banners are the. best. ever.
Materials and directions
You need a base and magnetic items. That’s it. There are many materials that you could include to check off both of these boxes.
Base: Here, we are using dyed rice (which is beyond simple to make!) as the base, but you could use many other items! Ideas include beans, corn kernels, pom poms, cotton balls, and dyed pasta.
Magnetic Items: First, walk around your home or classroom and gather all the magnetic items you can find. Better yet, have the kids do this with you!
Some other fun magnetic school toys that we love are:
What is STEM and why is it important for kids?
STEM is a big buzzword in education and includes so much goodness.
The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
STEM incorporates critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and preparation for skills needed in the 21st century. Careers known as “STEM careers” include scientists, engineers, software developers, astronauts, architects, computer programmers, and more!
Not only is it critical to incorporate STEM in the home and classroom because the skills for many fields rely on STEM concepts, but also because it is FUN.
What kids are learning from this STEM play activity
Something as simple as magnets in rice incorporates:
- Science – observing (and feeling) how opposite poles are attracted to one another, making predictions
- Engineering – building and connecting magnets to create structures, exploring weight and balance
- Math – counting magnets, comparing shapes, comparing & contrasting
Introducing magnet wands + magnet chips
You certainly don’t need to buy expensive materials to make a magnetic table, and instead, you can use found materials gathered from around your environment. However, if you want to invest in magnet toys, magnet wands and magnet chips are where I would start!
Neither is very expensive and they are entertaining for hours. Magnet wands feel like magic wands and they’re a fun item for kids to hold and use. Magnet chips are small plastic circles with a thin piece of wire around the perimeter, making them lightweight, pretty, and full of possibilities.
We love to toss the magnet chips into a sensory table base and provide kids with magnet wands. Then, as the kids run their magnet wands in and around the sensory table, the magnet chips attach to the wand right before your eyes.
Once the wand is fully covered, remove the chips, mix them back into your base, and repeat!
Rise, wash, repeat – magnet style.
Magnets + sensory play = awesome, easy STEM activity
Once your child understands how the magnets work, invite them to predict what items are magnetic around your home or classroom. If you have magnet wands, this is a fun opportunity for the kids to walk around with the wand and to test items they pass by.
As a general rule of thumb, if it’s a STEM activity for kids, I’ve got to try it, especially if it has magnets.
Yay for making science accessible and exciting for kids of all ages!