How Does Magnetism Work?
Magnets are seemingly magic force that kids love to play with because they do things that appeal to the senses which kids are exploring the use of. They can see the magnets defying gravity by holding onto the refrigerator, they can feel the magnets pulling or pushing when they approach metal or another magnet. They’re just really fun to play with because they break the rules in a sense. Not surprisingly then, there are some unique ways that you and your child can explore magnets together.
At the most basic, you can get an Elenco EDU-36724 horseshoe magnet, with one north pole and one south pole. I had a similar one as a child that came with some metal washers, and it really is a good way to introduce a small child to magnetism. Why are some metals magnetic and others are not? What will it stick to? Great things to consider during exploration. If you want to take that to the next level, you might try the Velleman ELMX204 which includes everything needed for a total of six experiments. From the available picture it looks like those experiments involve attracting metal and other magnets, repelling other magents and making a compass spin. Lastly, for simple magnets, Thames & Kosmos’ 575001 Magnetic Slime is sure to be a hit when used with the previous toys as you use the magnets to make the slime come to “life.” These probably are not the nest idea for kids who still put stuff in their mouth, but are probably perfect for maybe 4-6 year olds, with proper parental guidance and supervision of course.
If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated, you might want to look at some experiment kits. Elenco’s Snap Circuit SCP-08 looks at magnetism but adds the element of electromagnetism. Presumably, children will learn not only about magnets, but how coiled wire with electricity going through it creates an electromagnet. It’s a kit that I wish I would have had in my early teens. Thames & Kosmos also makes two different experiment kits. The Thames & Kosmos 665050 contains enough parts and instructions for 33 experiments while the Thames & Kosmos 620417 has nearly twice as many. There may be some overlap in experiments, so be sure to check out and leave reviews for each. The biggest difference is that the Thames & Kosmos 620417 ties in electricity, so exploring electromagnetism is a large feature in that set as is exploring how the two unique forces are related.
Whatever level your child is at, there is a magnetic exploration kit that’s perfect for their age that helps them understand, engage and have fun with this mysterious force. It’s a good bet you and your kids will have a better understanding of magnetism than when you started. We’d love to hear from you about your favorite, so make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!