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Lesson Plans
Which Objects are Magnetic?

Compare and classify objects by observable physical properties.

Materials Needed
  • Mickey’s Magnet by Franklyn M. Branley and Eleanor K. Vaughan or What Makes a Magnet? by Franklyn M. Branley
  • Magnets or Magnetic Wands
  • Pipe Stems (cut into 1-or 2-inch pieces)
  • Pom-Poms
  • Variety of small magnetic objects (e.g., paper clips, nuts or bolts, etc.)
  • Variety of small nonmagnetic objects (e.g., rubber bands, plastic counters, feathers, etc.)
  • Clear, empty 2-liter plastic bottles (at least two)
  • Several plastic shoe box–sized containers (one for each small group of students)
  • Sand or dried beans
  • Magnetic/Not Magnetic sorting mat

  1. Drop a few pipe stems into one of the clear plastic bottles. Drop a few pom-poms into the other plastic bottle.
  2. Fill each of the shoe box–sized containers halfway with sand or dried beans. Then “bury” several of the small objects in the sand or beans. (Be sure to hide a variety of both magnetic and nonmagnetic objects in each box.)


Read aloud Mickey’s Magnet or What Makes a Magnet?


  1. Display the two plastic bottles (one containing pipe stems and one containing pom-poms) so that students can see them.
  2. Ask, “Can you guess which of these bottles contains something that is attracted to a magnet? Is it the pipe stems or the pom-poms?” (Point to each bottle and encourage students to make their predictions and explain their thinking.)
  3. Next, have a student volunteer place a magnet or magnetic wand near the sides of the plastic bottles to see if it attracts the objects inside.
  4. When students see that the magnet attracts some of the pipe stems, encourage the volunteer to move the magnet around the outside of the bottle to see what happens (some of the pipe stems will follow the magnet’s movements).
  5. Point out that the wire inside each pipe stem is magnetic, but there is nothing magnetic inside the pom-poms.

Guided Practice

  1. Divide the class into small groups of two or three students.
  2. Give each group a shoe box–sized container with magnetic and nonmagnetic objects “buried” in it.
  3. Provide each group with a magnetic wand and encourage students to take turns using the wand to search for magnetic objects. Tell students, “If an object sticks to your magnetic wand, it is magnetic!”
  4. As students “find” the hidden magnetic objects, have them place the objects on the “Magnetic” column of the sorting mat.
  5. Have them place the nonmagnetic objects on the “Not Magnetic” column of the sorting mat.
  6. Invite them to share their discoveries!

the preschool–kindergarten lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




Social Studies

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