I tried to fill the boys’ stockings this Christmas with things they would actually use instead of cheap trinkets that I would be trying to sneak and throw away a few weeks later. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one that does this.) In Auggie’s stocking, I added some magnetic wands. We had quite a bit of fun just playing with the wands around the house and testing household items to see if they were magnetic. This gave me the opportunity to go full science-teacher-nerd-mom and made my heart so happy to use vocabulary such as magnetism and properties with my three-year-old.
After all of this fun, I decided to take our exploration to the next level with a magnetism sensory bin. I started with our clear container and a sensory bin filler. In this instance, rice was the filler of choice. Then I rounded up items around the house that I knew would be magnetic. Some items that I had on hand included: a paper clip, pipe cleaners, a metal ring, binder clips, a screwdriver, and another magnet from the fridge. I also collected just as many items that I knew would not be magnetic. Some of my choices included: a plastic slinky (it would be so much fun if you had both a plastic and a metal), a few plastic toys, a plastic medicine cup, a wooden ring, an empty essential oil bottle that is glass, and a rock. One of my focuses on this was to get items that were made of different materials such as glass, plastic, wood, and rock. Finally, I grabbed a few items that I wasn’t even sure whether they were magnetic or not such as a knitting needle and a Hotwheels car.
After he explored for a minute, I took the opportunity to make mats to designate magnetic and non-magnetic items. I showed him how to do the first couple of items, and then let him take it from there. I was sure to use words such as classify and have him discuss the properties of the items he was exploring. He was so enthralled by this activity and really learned a lot not only about magnetism, but he also learned some early science skills. After he finished the items that I had for him, he went around the house finding items to add to his bin and test. By the end, he probably had a hundred items piled around the kitchen that he had tested. While everything in me wanted to say, “That’s enough, I don’t want anything else to clean up,” the inquiry skills that he was developing are so valuable.
This bin was so simple just using magnetic wands and household items, but the learning that took place was so wonderful for my science teacher heart. Early science skills are so important, and this is the perfect sensory bin to do just that. I encourage you to grab some wands, or any kind of magnet and give this one a try.