Science Programs for Children Ages 4 and 5


  • To introduce the ideas of attract and repel as related to magnets.
  • To introduce temporary and permanent magnets.

Books : (In kit)

  • Magnets Push, Magnets Pull by David A. Adler, Illus. Anna Ruff
  • Marta’s Magnets by Wendy Pfeffer; Illus. Gail Piazza
  • The Shivers in the Fridge by Fran Manushkin; Illus. Paul O. Zelinsky

Equipment : (In kit)

  • 1 Boy Scout Hiking/backpacking Compass
  • 1 Container of Iron Filings
  • 10 Magic Wand Magnets
  • 4 Giant Horseshoe Magnets
  • 1 Set of Magnetic Match Rings
  • 1 Set (2) North South Bar Magnets
  • 1 Bag of Assorted Bar Magnets 
  • 1 Bag of Magnetic Counting Chips
  • 1 Bag of Magnetic Marbles
  • 1 Bag of Assorted Nails, Screws and Paper Clips

Bookmarks : (In kit)

Paper copies of the bookmark are included in the kit. PDF and JPEG copies are available here.

  • PDF – 4 bookmarks per page. Ready to print in color.


  • Objectives
    • To introduce the ideas of attract and repel as related to magnets.
    • To introduce temporary and permanent magnets.
  • Introduction
    • Ask “what is a magnet?”
    • Where do we find magnets?
    • How do we use magnets?
    • What are they made of?
  • Program
    • READ: Magnets Push Magnets Pull by David Adler. As you are reading, hold up some of the magnets that correspond to what you are reading. Don’t do the full experiments, but make sure you show a bar magnet, the container of iron filings, and a compass (when you get to that part of the book).
    • Have your magnets and other items ready for hands-on experiments. All the children will be able to do the experiments, but at this time, choose different helpers to demonstrate each experiment.
    • Read: A very silly story about magnets, The Shivers in the Fridge by Fran Manushkin or a more serious story about using a magnet to solve a problem, Marta’a Magnets by Wendy Pfeffer. This seems long. Start on the page “Grabbing her magnets, Marta bounced down five flights of stairs and ran out the door”. You can easily condense some of the story and make the points about the magnets!
  • Activities – All of these experiments are best done with a parent or teen helper at all the stations!
    • Have some canned foods on the table and see which cans are steel (stick to the magnets) and which are aluminum (soda cans, etc.).
    • Have coins out and check out the magnetism of our coins.
    • Have a clear bowl filled with the bag of items (paper clips, nails, screws, and other things) and see what a magnet can pick up.
    • Create a temporary magnet: use a wand magnet (orange, purple, green) and attach a paper clip or nail. Then attach another clip to that clip and create a chain, with each clip a temporary magnet.  Gently remove the clip that is actually touching the magnet and watch how all the rest fall apart.
    • Show how magnets repel each other. Use the bar magnets for this.  Two children can easily feel the pull towards or away, depending on how they are facing.
    • Use the iron fillings and a piece of paper (as in the book) to show how the fillings move around the bar magnet and how the “poles” are the strongest.
    • Point out the compass and North and South on the compass.
    • Make a magnet by rubbing a paper clip with the bar magnet. This will align the poles on the clip and turn it into a magnet (temporarily).
    • Have a bowl of water available to test whether a magnet works through water. Put some paper clips into the water and try it.  If the magnet is strong enough it will work through paper, water and glass.
    • The magnetic ring set can be used to try and make the magnets “float.” Let the children try and match the pictures to the magnets.  What happens?
    • Let the children use different magnets with different experiments. Does the wand magnet work better, the same, or different than the bar magnet?

  • General
    • Many children come with the notion that magnets are just to hang papers on the refrigerators and “real” magnets are horseshoe shaped.
    • Let the children share their observations about the experiments.


Please print this evaluation, complete it and return to MVLS in the SWS red envelope.

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