Magnetic Basket of Eggs

I’ve been wanting to incorporate magnets into my rotation of activities but wasn’t quite sure how to do it.  Then I stumbled upon this idea with plastic easter eggs and I tested it with my littlest one and he LOVED it!  The tots in the class enjoyed it as well and so now, it’s time to share it with everyone!  And it’s a great use for all those plastic eggs you have leftover after the egg hunts!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Plastic Eggs (I used 8/child in my class)
  • Magnetic wands (I got mine from Lakeshore Learning, a local school supply store) OR a strong magnet from your fridge
  • Magnetic objects that fit in the eggs (I used: nuts and washers, paperclips, magnetic chips and metal jingle bells)
  • Non-magnetic objects that fit in the eggs (I used: uncooked macaroni, rocks, pennies and beads)
  • Easter basket
  • Ice cube tray or muffin tin for sorting objectsIMG_5667

To set up:

I placed a few objects in each egg so that they made a fun noise when shaken.  To keep myself organized, I placed all the pennies in pink eggs, all the pasta in the yellow eggs and so on to ensure all the students had eggs with all the different objects in them.

Add the eggs to a small Easter basket.  Provide a magnetic wand and a sorting tray, either an ice cube tray or muffin tin works great! (If you don’t have a fancy magnetic wand like mine, grab a strong magnet from the fridge!  I know you have those letter magnets on your fridge!)

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To play/investigate:

I just left the basket of eggs with the wand and the tray and allowed the tots to investigate on their own.  All sorts of amazing investigations happened when they were left to make up their own “rules”.

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Some opened the eggs up right away and dumped it all out.IMG_5532

Others shook the eggs and put them back in the basket.

Some mixed the eggs in the basket with the wand like a soup.

IMG_5664

Once the tots realized some eggs “stuck” to the wand, the others got curious and started “sticking” eggs to their wands.IMG_5566

As the contents of the eggs were emptied out, the objects started to “stick” to the wand too!  Wow!

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Some objects did not stick to the wand, no matter how much they tried.

Some sorted by “sticky” objects.IMG_5553

Others sorted by the type of object.

IMG_5565Other didn’t sort at all but counted instead!

SO MANY different ways to play and experiment and lots of learning going on with no directions from adults!

My littlest one spent many hours testing out different ways to play before I set this up for my class.  That’s how I knew to be prepared for everything to get all mixed up at the end.

NOTE: If setting up for a class, I recommend pre-filling ALL the eggs and placing in a separate bag for each child.  I also provided 2 dump bins: one for empty eggs and one for the contents.

Science Behind the Activity:

There is so much learning to be had in this activity!  Just the discovery that the eggs are magnetic (“sticky”) is huge!  By shaking the eggs, they can make predictions about what is inside.  By sorting, they can discover which items are magnetic and which are not.  For older kids, they might notice that the “sticky” items are all metal items.  Sorting and counting are fantastic for young kids to order and organize their thoughts and discoveries.

Here’s where I got my magnetic idea from: http://www.modernpreschool.com/2015/03/magnet-science-with-plastic-eggs.html

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