This activity will help your child develop her sense of experimentation. Magnets are made of iron ore and have a magnetic field around them. Whenever an object enters that field, it pulls on the object if it is made of iron, steel, nickel or cobalt.
-Find a magnet that is pretty strong. Lay out several small items onto the table. Be sure to include metal items such as paperclips, nails, and twist ties. Have your child experiment by holding the magnet over objects to see if they’ll be attracted to the magnet.
-Draw a line down a piece of paper. Place items that stick to the magnet on one side of the paper and the other side houses items that do not respond to the magnet.
-Place an item that is attracted to the magnet on top of a piece of cardstock. Move the magnet beneath the cardstock and watch the object move around as you move the magnet. Try moving the magnet under a piece of cardboard with the attracted object on top. Is the cardboard too thick or does the magnet still work? What else can you use to separate the object and the magnet? (Plastic, glass or ceramic plate, your child’s hand, an old CD…)
-Do magnets work under water? Fill a large bowl with water and place several magnetic and non-magnetic items in the bottom of the bowl. Let your child explore the power of magnets under water.
-Talk about the kinds of objects that are attracted to magnets and what objects are not.
(Check out this and other ideas: http://parenting.ivillage.com/tp/tplearning/0,,sklbldr_d67w-5,00.html)