There’s more to magnets than just sticking things together.
Magnets offer a wealth of opportunities for kids to explore the world, exercise their imagination, and uncover their creativity.
In our list of twelve magnetic activities, you’ll find something for kids of all ages, interests, and abilities. Plus, we share the benefits of magnetic play and add top safety tips from the experts.
- Magnetic activities can improve fine motor skills, teach scientific methods, foster curiosity, and promote artistic expression.
- Some fun magnetic activities include magnetic fishing, creating scrap robots, making alphabet magnets from clay, and exploring magnetic fields.
- Always follow safety precautions, including age recommendations and avoiding rare earth magnets, when using magnets for play.
- Supervise children during magnetic activities and ensure magnets are never put in the mouth, nose, or used on other body parts besides the hands.
Magnetic Activities for Kids
This list of activities includes options for scientific investigation, literacy practice, artistic expression, and physical development.
These activities have two things in common: they involve magnets, and they’re fun.
Benefits of Magnetic Activities for Kids
Magnetic activities have a range of benefits beyond the teaching of how magnets work.
Improve Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are essential for activities that adults often take for granted, such as doing up buttons or holding a pencil. Playing with magnets helps to strengthen a child’s fine motor skills by encouraging activities that require small, precise, targeted actions.
Learn Scientific Methods
In addition to learning about the properties of magnets, magnetic play can help teach about the scientific method of identifying known facts, wondering what will happen when you carry out a particular action, and experimenting to see if your hypothesis is correct.
We are born inherently curious. Curiosity is what drives us to explore and discover the world around us. Magnet activities for kids help create situations they have not experienced before, pose new questions, and offer new opportunities for exploration.
Promote Artistic Expression
Some magnetic activities encourage children to express themselves in different ways. For example, the robot activity above can help a child explore how different items look together and discover how they can create figures of all kinds.
Tips for Using Magnets Safely
It is always a medical emergency if a child swallows a magnet. Magnets can pull together or be attracted to metal items outside the body and cause severe damage to the digestive system (2).
Make a point of sitting down and saying clearly to your child that magnets can be dangerous and should never be put in their mouth, nose, or used with any other part of the body besides their hands.
Keep Track of Magnets
- If you use magnets for activities, make a point of counting magnets out of a container before you begin and counting them back into a container when you have finished playing.
- Avoid large sets of magnets as it’s easier for one to go missing without you noticing.
- If you have older children, especially teens, discourage them from using fake piercings that are magnetic. They can fall off or they may be accidentally left lying around and are easy for younger children to find.
Follow Age Recommendations
If you purchase a toy or game that contains magnets, always follow age recommendations (3).
Don’t Use Rare Earth Magnets
Never allow children to play with high-strength neodymium magnets, also known as “rare earth” magnets (4).
A neodymium magnet of just a few cubic centimeters can travel with enough sudden speed and force to break bones or cause deep soft tissue injuries. This can happen if you trap a body part between two rare earth magnets or one magnet and a metal surface.
Also, this sudden attachment can shatter neodymium magnets, causing fragments to fly in multiple directions, resulting in eye and soft tissue injuries.