Using magnets to help young children learn

Magnets are a wonderful tool for teaching young children. Whether they’re learning their numbers, letters, colors, or shapes, custom magnets can help! Here are a few ideas regarding using magnets in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms.

Magnetic Pattern Blocks

Whether you choose traditional tangram shapes or a large set of primary geometric shapes, magnetic pattern blocks are a great alternative to playing with plastic blocks on a sheet of paper. Simply store the magnetic pattern blocks in a plastic zippered pouch and allow children to borrow it for whiteboard use at the designated time. Use a heavy-duty round magnet to hang a pattern on the board for the child to follow.

 

Unlike plastic blocks, magnets on a whiteboard won’t slip around on the pattern page, and working upright at the board is a good opportunity for small children to maintain upright posture rather than hunching down over a paper pattern on a desk.
Quick tip: Another use for geometric magnets involves asking a child to sort a collection of magnets by shape and color.

 

Magnetic Math Cubes

As soon as students are old enough to begin using plastic math cubes, set aside a couple of sets and add magnets to them. These magnetic math cubes can then be used at the white board. Children who are struggling with visualizing number comparisons will be able to compare number sets and practice working with bar graphs more easily when they can stand back and see the comparative blocks arranged upright in front of them.

Learning to Spell

As any child who has had the pleasure of spelling with magnetic letters can tell you, playing with letter magnets doesn’t feel like working. Spelling is usually much more fun when it involves sorting and displaying colorful magnetic letters.

Children especially enjoy spelling out their names with magnets. If you are equipped with several sets of alphabet magnets, children may sort through the sets and select the letters that comprise their names. This works best if young children are sorted into groups of no more than 5. A classroom helper can sit and help the children arrange their names on 9 x 13 nonstick baking sheets, which work very well as portable magnetic surfaces.


Quick tips: there are printable learning sheets that are intended for use with classroom magnet sets, and they work very well on the baking sheet. The baking sheet can also be used to arrange the alphabet in order.

Test: Will It Stick?

Allow students to wander the classroom in teams of two (usually allowing only one or two teams to play at once is recommended). Instruct them to walk around the room and discover which surfaces the magnet will and will not stick to. Ask them to keep their observation a secret until everyone has had a chance to explore. Discuss their discoveries afterward in the larger group setting.

The questions you ask as you discuss the lesson can vary depending on the aspect of the lesson you wish to stress, but children often like to share which magnetic surface surprised them the most. Follow up with a question about which non-magnetic surface was the most unexpected. The critical thinking conversation that follows will be a good setup for larger lesson on the physical behavior of magnets.

How to make your own sticker storage box

Whether you use your stickers for your bullet journal, your child’s chore chart, or  scrapbooking, you’ve no doubt discovered that sticker collecting is an affordable, enjoyable hobby. Sometimes, however, our collections begin to get a little out of hand, and we need new storage solutions. If that’s you, we’ve got you covered. Today we’re sharing our favorite ways to create our own sticker storage box from materials you might already have lying around the house.

Shoe Box Conversion — For Sheets of Stickers

For this project, you’ll need:

  • A sturdy shoe box. It can be any width and height you like; just make sure it’s large enough to store your sticker sheets without bending them.
  • Cardstock or sturdy scrapbooking paper
  • Spray paint, or decorative paper and matte modge podge

 

  1. Decorate Your Box

(If your shoe box is already attractive enough to your eye, skip this step.)

This step is straightforward; paint your box’s exterior with either a good spray paint, or use a durable acrylic paint.

Alternatively, you can cut sheets of decorative paper to be just about one-half inch larger than each surface of your box you wish to cover, and, after using the tuck-and-fold method, modge podge it to the exterior of your box. This method takes skill, patience, and a tolerance for modge podge on one’s fingers.

 

  1. Create File Dividers

            (If you already have scrapbooking paper that fits your box, skip this step.)

Measure the interior of your box from side to side, and from the bottom of the box up to the height that you wish your file dividers to be. Cut your sturdy paper to fit. To save time, we recommend using a paper cutter, but sturdy scissors will do in a pinch.

 

  1. Add Tabs

You can either attach purchased tabs, or create your own by printing a template from Avery here. If you choose to print and attach your own, use sturdy paper that contrasts nicely with your box and dividers, and then attach them with a strong glue stick.

 

  1. Organize Your Stickers

All that’s left is to decide how you’ll categorize your stickers, fill out your labels, and get organized! Please let us know in the comments how you’ll arrange your collection. We’ve seen it done seasonally and thematically, but we look forward to hearing new ideas!

Aluminum Foil Box Conversion — For Rolls of Stickers

 

For this project, you’ll need:

 

  • An empty aluminum foil box
  • Spray paint, or decorative paper and matte modge podge

 

When working with aluminum foil boxes, be careful of the sharp dispensing edge.

 

Spray paint your box, or cover it with decorative paper and modge podge as above. Then simply slide your sticker rolls onto the cardboard tube. Consider adding a label on one edge of this project; then you can create multiple boxes, stack them, and still keep track of each box’s contents.

The existing serrated box edge makes a great dispensing tool for stickers, but it is not safe for small hands. If a child will be using this sticker holder, please carefully remove the sharp edge beforehand.