I love teaching about magnets, mainly because it’s probably the easiest unit I teach all year. My students have some magnet background knowledge from first grade, and the third grade content isn’t too difficult. Plus, I get to do really fun hands-on activities with my class. I used my Magnet Investigations Booklet that I made several years ago to introduce the concept. I did make some changes to it, because I can’t keep printing in color ink and the black and white copies didn’t look that good. You can click here for a copy of the Magnet Station Activities Booklet.
There is a hands-on activity on every page. The main focus of the majority of the activities is that magnets have a north and a south pole, and that the magnetic field is strongest around its poles. To teach this, students make a magnetic train where they join bar magnets together through their north and south poles. Students also make floating magnets with magnetic rings (this is always the favorite). Of course, I do have a couple activities where students find things that are and are not attracted to magnets. I always make sure I have something aluminum for this activity, because it’s not magnetic.
One of the more complicated activities demonstrates how a compass works. This always leaves my students amazed, and it’s a great way to review a little social studies!
To implement the activities, I give each of my groups (four students in a group) a kit of magnets and any needed supplies and a booklet. Students work through the booklet at their own pace, but I do encourage them to move at an appropriate pace.