Saturday, January 29, 2011

Using a Compass and Learning the 4 Cardinal Directions

Social Studies and Science

This activity is a follow up to the previous lesson (Making a Simple Compass).

Materials Needed
  • compass 
  • world maps(s)
  • signs: North, South, East, West
  • pen/pencil
  • crayons/markers
  • lodestone (optional) (Today it is called magnetite.)

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  1. Review definition of a compass (a tool used to find directions).
  2. Depending on the ages/grade levels of students introduce/review the 4 Cardinal Directions. (North, South, East, West)
  3. Use a compass to locate North (South, East, and West).
  4. With the help of the students hang up signs in the room labeling each Cardinal Direction. Older students can make their own signs or you can download the Free Labels below. Younger students can color in the Free black and white labels.
  5. Give each student a handout of a world map. Have them label the 4 Cardinal Directions.
  6. Tell the students that Magnes, a Greek Shepard, discovered lodestone (a natural magnetic stone). Show children Greece on a world map.
  7. Discuss how the Chinese used magnets as the 1st compass and show China on a world map.
  8. Have the children color/label Greece and China on a world map.
  9. Older children can research Magnes, lodestone, and the first compass. 
    You can visit Learning Workroom's website for a free copy of Cardinal Directions Labels (plus free cardinal directions worksheets) that you can download and print.
    Click here: 
    At the website, click on Free Worksheets    
    You can visit Free World Maps for a free map that you can download and print.
    Click here:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a Simple Compass

Compass: a tool used to show directions

  • needle
  • magnet
  • bowl
  • tape
  • small piece of cork  
  • water 
  • paper clip (optional) 

  1. First you will need to turn the needle into a magnet. It is easy to do! Just stroke the needle approximately 50 times in the same direction with the magnet. (You can try to pick up a paper clip with the needle to check that it is now magnetized!)
  2. Now you are ready to make the compass. Tape the magnetic needle to a piece of cork then float the needle in a bowl of water. It will now point to magnetic NORTH, just like a real compass! 

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Creating an Electromagnet

    An electromagnet is a magnet that can be turned on and off. It is made with current electricity.

    Reminder: Adult supervision is needed for this activity as well as all activities on this website.

    Materials needed
    • safety glasses and safety gloves
    • battery
    • battery holder
    • insulated wire (approx. 16 - 24 inches in length) with stripped ends or insulated wire with alligator clips
    • large iron nail       

    D cell battery electromagnet

    1. Wind an insulated wire around a nail.
    2. Connect both ends of the wire to the battery (one end on each terminal).
    3. The nail becomes magnetic.
    4. Predict the number of paper clips that the electromagnet can pick up.
    5. Try to pick up paper clips with your new magnet. (The ends of the magnet are its strongest parts.)
    6. Disconnect the wire from the battery when you are done. (It may get very HOT!)

    Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts
    • As a follow-up students could research a famous scientist that studied and experimented with electricity and/or magnetism.
    • They could also write an essay explaining how life would be different for us today without the discoveries and inventions of these scientists. (Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, etc.)

    Here is an electromagnet kit available from Amazon.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Magnetic Poles

    The science concepts/standards for this lesson are:

    • Magnets have 2 ends called poles (North {positive} and South {negative}).
    • Opposite poles attract (pull closer) each other (N an S).
    • Like poles repel (move away from) each other (N and N) (S and S).

    Materials Needed 
    • 2 magnets (per child or group)

    Opposite Poles Attract


    Like Poles Repel
    1. Give the kids 2 magnets and time to "play", observe, and discover with the magnets.
    2. Ask the children what they observed and discovered from "playing" with the magnets.
    3. Have the children predict (or recall) what happens when 2 opposite poles are pushed together. Have the kids push 2 opposite poles together. Then have them try to pull the opposite poles apart. The magnetic forces between the magnets will be holding them together.
    4. Have the children explain what happens when 2 opposite poles are pushed together
    5. Have the kids predict (or recall) what happens when 2 identical poles are pushed together. Have the kids try to push 2 identical poles together. They will feel the magnetic forces pushing the magnets apart.
    6. Have the children explain what happens when 2 identical poles are pushed together.  


      Lots of Attraction

      Opposite Poles Attract

      Children can sketch and label pictures of this activity in their science notebooks showing the magnets attracting and repelling.  

      These magnetic rings also demonstrate magnets attracting and repelling and are lots of fun for kids to explore!

      Have fun learning about magnets!

      Friday, January 21, 2011

      How strong is your magnet?

      In this activity, students can make a prediction of how many many paper clips their magnet can attract (hold or pick up). 
      It can also be a contest to see who can attract the most paper clips with their magnet.

      Materials Needed
      paper clips

      A variation is to explore different types and sizes of magnets to see which is the strongest.

      Children can also explore with other objects such as washers, nuts, bolts, etc.

      To tie in a math lesson, children can tally and graph their results.

      Thursday, January 20, 2011

      Creating a Magnetic Caterpillar and Butterfly

      Arts and Crafts, Science, Math, and Reading

      Here's an Arts and Crafts Project from a November 2010 post on Animals. I'm repeating it because it uses a magnet.

      Materials Needed:
      • clothespin
      • magnetic tape (cut to same length as clothespin)
      • small cotton pom poms (green or other fun colors) (approx. 5)
      • white glue
      • googly eyes (2)
      • scissors 
      1. Stick the magnetic tape to the bottom of the clothespin. 
      2. Glue the pom poms to the top of the clothespin. 
      3. Then glue the eyes to the front pom pom (the end of the clothespin that opens).
      Eric Carle's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is awesome to use for reading or science.


      Another simple Arts and Crafts Project that uses magnets are these wooden butterflies.

      Materials Needed:
      • wooden butterfly shape
      • magnetic tape (cut to width of butterfly)
      • glitter glue (or paint, crayons, or markers)
      1. Stick the magnetic tape to the bottom of the wooden butterfly shape.
      2. Decorate the top of the butterfly with the glitter glue (or paint, crayons, or markers).
      3. Let the glitter glue dry overnight. 

        The glitter glue usually takes 24 hours to dry, but I think it's worth the wait because the finished projects always look amazing!  :)

        This activity can also be used as a math lesson on symmetry.

        Wednesday, January 19, 2011

        Magnets and the Scientific Method Video and Experiment Form

        Here's a great, free video from Brain Pop Jr. that answers the following questions about Magnets and the Scientific Method.

        1. What kinds of metal objects do magnets attract?
        2. What is the scientific method?
        3. How do you do an experiment?
        4. How can you record data?
        5. How do you draw a conclusion?
        Click here: Magnets and the Scientific Method Video 

        You can visit Learning Workroom's website for a FREE Science Experiment Form Worksheet that you can download and print.

        Click here: Science Experiment Form
        Then go to: Free Worksheets 


        Tuesday, January 18, 2011

        Magnets and Matter

        In the previous activity children observed that a magnet can attract a paper clip(s).
        In this experiment, we will observe if magnets can attract a paper clip(s) through 3 different forms of matter solid (plastic), liquid (water) and gas (air).

        Frog Magnet Bought at a Hardware Store!


        Have the students make a prediction before each activity.

        First let's try the solid (plastic). Put 1 or a couple of paper clips in a plastic cup. Then hold the magnet against the outside of the cup? Observe what happens. Does the magnet attract the paper clip(s) through the plastic?

        Second, let's try the gas (air). Hold the magnet over the cup which has a paper clip in it. You may have to lower it into the cup a bit depending on the strength of the magnet. Observe. Does the magnet attract the paper clip(s)?

        Third, let's try the liquid (water). Add just a little water to a cup that has 1 or more paper clips inside. Again lower the magnet into the cup (but not into the water). Observe. How did the magnet do? Did it pick up the paper clip(s) out of the water?

        Other solids that you could try are paper and aluminum foil!
        Have fun!

        Children should sketch pictures of the experiments in their science notebooks and record their results.

        Monday, January 17, 2011

        Conduct a Test with Magnets

        Magnetic Energy - Magnetism Test

        Which objects will a magnet pick up (attract)?

        Bar Magnet

        Horseshoe Magnets

        1. Have the kids conduct a Magnetism Test.
        2. Collect 10 or more small objects (eraser, marble, penny, paper clip, elastic, key, dollar bill, etc.) and put them in a ziplock bag, paper lunch bag, plastic cup (I recycle my large plastic Dunkin' Donuts cups!!!), or other container.
        3. Give the objects to each child. Have older students divide a page into 3 columns. In column 1 have them write the names of the objects. Have a written list or pictures for younger students.
        4. In column 2, have the kids PREDICT then RECORD whether they think each object will be attracted to a magnet or not. A simple "Yes" or "No" is fine. Younger students can use "Y" or "N" or draw smiley faces for Yes :) and put an "X" for No.
        5. Then give each child a magnet so that they can test each object.
        6. In column 3, they should record their RESULTS.
        7. Finish up with a discussion and review of the types of materials that magnets are attracted to (objects made of iron, steel, nickel,  or cobalt).
        8. In the discussion, they could also talk about what materials the objects that were not attracted to the magnets were made of (rubber, paper, plastic, styrofoam, copper, etc.). 
        You can download a FREE 3 column Graphic Organizer at Learning Workroom's website.
        Go to: Free Worksheets

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          Here are some resources available at Amazon.

          Learning Resources Classroom Magnet Lab Kit 

           What Makes a Magnet? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)

           Dowling Magnets Simply Science Floating Magnet Rings 

          Super Science Magnet Set 

          What Magnets Can Do (Rookie Read-About Science) 

          Giant Horseshoe Magnet 

          Super Giant Horseshoe Magnet Kit 

          Science with Magnets [With Wire, Nail, Paperclips, Corks and Clay and Horseshoe, Bar, & Disk Magnets and Compass] (Usborne Kid Kits) 

          Have Fun with Science!


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