Magnet Play for Little Ones

With a preschooler and a toddler to keep occupied while homeschooling the big kids, my mind is in overdrive trying to find ways to keep them busy. A few years ago I pulled out my magnet set to give Logan {three at the time} a chance to enjoy some magnet play with real school materials.


Hands On Fun for Little Ones - Magnet Play via



This was the reaction I got:



Hands On Fun for Little Ones - Magnet Play via


Oftentimes, the chance to explore a manipulative through play sets the groundwork for future learning better than any other preparation. {NOTE: If your little one likes to put things in her mouth, don’t try this – wait until she stops that. You don’t want a little one swallowing a magnet!} Little ones get a chance to explore cause and effect, attraction and repulsion, and play with some things usually reserved for the  big kids when you let them explore magnets.



Hands On Fun for Little Ones - Magnet Play via



I set out simple, kid-friendly horse-shoe magnets, magnetic wands, a bin of wired bingo chips, a bin of magnetic balls, and a plastic bin full of random objects – paperclips, string, tinfoil, coins, a fork, and small plastic toy. Sometimes I give the kids the cool magnet cars we bought recently and let them tape lanes on the table to hold races. Even simple wooden train cars on a track teach magnetic properties. The poles need to be correct or the cars push away from one another instead of joining to form a long train.



Hands On Fun for Little Ones - Magnet Play via


Remember that play IS the work {and learning} of childhood. Especially for our preschoolers and toddlers. Find new ways to use old toys, while talking with them about their properties, and your kids will pick up more than you think they will. Playing with toys and tools like magnets sets them up for future explorations, so that when they see these things again, they’ll be ready to scaffold into higher-level thinking.

For more great ideas to keep your toddlers and preschoolers busy while you homeschool your big kids, check out my Tot Activities board on Pinterest.


Follow Colleen’s board Tot Activities on Pinterest.



For your convenience, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite magnet toys and kits for your little ones in the carousel below. If your viewing this from a mobile device, you’ll need to visit from your computer or click the specific links above.



What are some of your favorite tricks and toys for keeping your littlest learners occupied and actively engaged while you teach your big kids?