Magnet Painting Experience

Ages: 3-5years


The class I am observing has been exploring magnets and how they work. The children have been playing with magnets every day. They have also been working on marble painting in the classroom. I would like to introduce a new way to explore with magnets by doing some magnet painting. I feel like this is a great way to bridge between the two activities I have observed this class working on.
magnet painting5
Materials Needed:
•Metal balls
•Magnet wands
•Bowls for the paint and spoons to lift the metal balls out of the paint
magnet painting4
•This experience can take place in the indoor classroom or on the outdoor classroom


•The set up will look like 4 boxes have been placed upon the table each with a piece of paper inside and each being propped up by two blocks. I will have the bowls with paint in them set up in the center of the table so the children can move the metal ball covered in the desired color of paint to their box. The magnetic wands will be placed beside the boxes.

•A great way to initiate the activity is during the morning meeting by asking “How we might paint with magnets?” You can talk about “magnetic force” and how it works. We will be using magnetic force in a different way instead of building (like using magformers or magnatiles) we will be pushing magnets around to create force and to create a picture. The provocation will be the setup and the invitation to explore. “How can we use magnets to create a picture?”.

•The children might participate by using the magnets below the box and observing the paint patterns and movements of the metal ball. They can use different distances observing how the metal ball works and add different colors or multiple balls to see what happens.
•The open-ended questions may be as follows: I wonder how the magnet is pulling the ball through the paint? What happens if you gently pull the magnet around or if you pull more forcefully? What does the painting look like or remind you of? I plan for this to be a small group activity no more than four children at a time. All four children will be making their own paintings at the same time.
•The language introduced may include the following FIVE words: magnet, motion, magnetic force, platform, magnetic field.

•To support the children’s learning further I would explore making magnet paintings with more than one child at a time so introducing cooperative art. Also introducing other items that are metal and non-metal to see what they are able to move through the paint with the wands and what they are not able to move through the paint.
•Simplify- To meet the needs of a new “explorer” I would allow them to explore the paint and the magnets.

•Extension- To meet the needs of a child who needs a more complex level. I would challenge them to think of how they could use the magnets without touching the box with it. Can they find the magnetic field that will still work.

Using the California Learning Foundations these are some of the learning concepts you may observe

Social/ Emotional:

Initiative in Learning: 5.1

Developmental Experiences:

Enjoy learning and are confident in their abilities to make new discoveries although may not persist at solving difficult problems.

Children become engaged in learning opportunities, approach learning with enthusiasm, and have confidence in their capacities to learn more. But they may give up when facing difficult problem ­solving challenges.

Shows interest in many different activities in the classroom.

Responds positively to a teacher’s invitation to try a new activity


Language Use and Conventions: 1.1

Children understand and use language to communicate with others effectively.

Use language to communicate with others in familiar social situations for a variety of basic purposes, including describing, requesting, commenting, acknowledging, greeting, and rejecting.

With my open ended questions I hope to attain better insight into the children’s language skills. I will be listening in particular for children using language to: Describe: The child says, “the magnets are moving the paint.”, Requesting: The child asks, “Can I have more paint?” , Commenting: The child says, “This is my painting.” (The above are some examples I will be looking for similar types of comments.) I will also look to see if the children are using the vocabulary I introduce to them.

Visual Arts:

Notice, Respond, and Engage: 1.1

Notice and Communicate about objects or forms that appear in art.

Documenting Learning:

You can document the learning by recording anecdotal observations and by taking pictures.

Another take on this activity Magnet Painting Experience

Magnet Painting:

Materials Needed:
Paper plate (the cheap kind not the waxed kind)
Magnet Wand
Tempera Paint
Magnetic balls

1. Put small drops of paint on plate
2. Now place two magnetic balls IN the paint and then hold a magnet UNDER the plate.
3. Using the magnetic wand under the plate use the wand to move the marbles through the paint and watch the colors mix

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