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Lockdown Day 71 – Magnetic and Non-magnetic

Knowledge and Understanding of the World

It’s a science day today!

We have already explained the scientific process in Lockdown tip #42, but to refresh your child’s memory (and yours!) here is the outline:

  • What are you testing? This is the hypothesis.
  • Predict the outcome for that which you are testing.
  • Observe the results.
  • Record the evidence.
  • Draw a conclusion.

Young children enjoy comparative experiments where they are immersed in the testing phase of the experiment. Today we will be testing for magnetism, which is a fun activity that may last days as your child may want to test everything in the house!



  • A place mat/ clear work area.
  • A fairly large, and fairly strong magnet.
  • A collection of smallish items from around the house. Place these into a bowl or box.

Ideas for items:

  • Key
  • Cork
  • Plastic lid
  • Sponge
  • Different coins
  • Marble
  • Tin can
  • Piece of paper or cardboard
  • Piece of wood
  • Paper clip
  • Wooden peg with metal spring
  • Rubber squash ball
  • Teaspoon
  • A piece of leather
  • Fridge magnet

NOTE: Not all metal is magnetic – try and find some metal objects that will not stick to the magnet.


1. Ask the child to bring the place mat to the table.

2. Place the bowl/box of objects on the mat.

3. Invite the child to remove the objects from the bowl, placing them in a horizontal line just above the mat. Discuss each one by naming it and describing what it is made of. ‘The key ring has a leather tag and a metal clip.’

4. Introduce the child to the magnet showing her/him the magnetic pull by using a magnetic object. Take time for the child to repeat the word and if possible, use variations of the word. Today we are going to use the MAGNETto test for MAGNETISM.

5. Invite the child to remove an object form the bowl and tell you what it is. Encourage the child to make a PREDICTIONas to whether the object will stick to the magnet or not.

6. Test and observe. Ask the child to draw a CONCLUSION. “What do you notice? Yes, the paperclip sticks to the magnet, it is MAGNETIC.”

7. The child can place the paperclip at the top left of the mat.

8. Continue exploring the objects, placing the magnetic objects on the left of the mat and the non-magnetic objects on the right of the mat. Objects like the key ring mentioned in point 3, and the wooden peg with the metal spring, may be both magnetic and non-magnetic. These can be placed in the middle of the mat.

NOTE: This is a great opportunity to introduce the concept of the Venn diagram to the older children.

9. You can conclude the activity by discussing the materials that are magnetic (certain metals) and the materials that are non-magnetic (certain metals, plastic, rubber, cork, glass, paper etc.)

10. The child may now want to go around the house to find more objects to add to the collections of magnetic and non-magnetic. We would however recommend that youask the child to stay away from any electronic equipment with the magnet (just in case)!

11. When the child has completed the activity, it will need to be packed away. Objects back in the box with the magnet, and the place mat back in its place.


Carl Sagan said, ‘Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.’ Activities like this are filled with possibility. Our aim here is to awaken the children’s curiosity in the world around them and present them with phenomena in the natural world so that they can understand their relationship to their environment.


Find all of our lockdown tips here –