April 16, 2013

Magnet Review Activities

I went a little rogue and made up my own science lessons instead of using the ones form our online public school, and found myself having to go back and give the kids a ton of assessments for bygone topics just to prove that they had learned what they needed to learn even though the lessons hadn't been marked as done. One of the drawbacks of using public school curriculum, I suppose.  We'll be making a change next year, but for now, this is what we're doing.  Anyway, I didn't want to give them the assessments cold turkey with no review, so we pulled out some of our favorite activities to refocus our brains on those long ago studied science topics in preparation for the assessment marathon we are about to embark upon.

I wasn't really looking at what specific topics we were going to do when I called the kids in, and said, "Hey, how about we sit in mom's bed and plow through some science assessments?"  Then I opened up the school web site only to find that magnets were the very first topic.  Nice.  Reviewing magnet activities meant pouring a small amount of iron filings on a plate and pushing and pulling them around with magnets.  Yeah...not a great activity to do in my bed!  At least it's a mess easily cleaned up with big magnets.  I wasn't expecting to add that to our list of activities!  Oh well.  You live, you learn.  Right?  

Today we decided to do things properly at the kitchen bar, and I thought I'd share some of their favorite magnet activities while they're fresh on my mind.

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As I mentioned, Iron filings are always fun.  I wish I had one of those bald head toys that you can buy at truck stops and Cracker Barrels where you drag the iron filings on to the face to give it a beard and head hair.  But alas, these poor, underprivileged kids were stuck just playing with the stuff on a plate.

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I wanted to make a homemade compass where you magnetize a straight pin and float it on water, but my sewing needles are MIA, so we're going to have to do that tomorrow after a trip to the store for supplies.  But we already had the compass out before I realized that I had no pins, so the kids enjoyed messing with it with a magnet, changing the location of North.  I was not expecting that to be as much fun as they thought it was.  I'm wondering if we are messing up the compass's proper magnetization by doing this, but I'm not sure that anyone in our family has ever actually had a need for a working compass in the wilderness anyway, so I let them enjoy it in what way they could.

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Finally, when art time rolled around, it seemed like the perfect time to do an activity that I never managed to get around to when we first learned about magnets this year, which is magnetic painting.  Put a plop of paint on a piece of card stock, drop a button magnet into the paint, and use a bar magnets under the paper to drag the paint around to make a picture.  Unfortunately, our only washable paint was soooooo thick that the magnet could hardly move through it.  Bummer!  So, we resorted to using the bar magnet on top of the button magnet and moving it that way.  It still wasn't as workable as we would have liked, but I think the kids had fun anyway.

Tomorrow, it's static electricity (and that homemade compass).  We actually already took those assessments, but the kids wanted to relive the activities even thought they didn't need to.  But we are all out of balloons so we added them to the list with straight pins and plan on doing them tomorrow.

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