A quick search on Amazon yields hundreds of results relating to teaching magnets: magnetic blocks, electromagnetic science kits, supplies for creating magnetic experiments…the list goes on and on!
So it’s no surprise that my students love learning about magnets in the classroom. I know there will be no shortage of fun magnet activities to plan, but it’s also important to build strong background knowledge and a solid foundation before diving into the hands-on practice.
That’s why I created this FREE magnet lesson! It is perfect for teaching a unit all about magnets, with an engaging text, comprehension questions, and a graphic organizer. An answer key is included too.
Using the Anchor Text
I purposefully created this anchor text to cover multiple science and reading skills. That way you can double-dip, hitting your reading standards while you learn in-depth about a science concept.
I highly suggest using Close Reading Strategies as you read this text with your students. This breaks the reading down into several steps that will ultimately develop deep comprehension for your students.
1. Read and reread the text: Let your students read the text silently on their own first, then again with a partner. Multiple readings of a text boosts comprehension and confidence.
2. Annotate the text: Next, model how to mark up the text, while students write on their own copy. You can underline key terms, circle unknown words, and summarize sections in the margins. This allows students to make connections with the text.
3. Analyze the text: Finally, use the comprehension questions that go along with the text. Encourage students to go back to the anchor text to find specific evidence that supports their thinking. Citing textual evidence is an essential skill, and it’s important to practice it whenever possible.
Graphic organizers are great to use as students dig deeper into scientific concepts. I like to use circle maps as we begin a unit: these allow students to brainstorm definitions and characteristics of a key topic. Write a term like “magnets” in a small circle, then draw a larger circle around it. Students can share ideas related to the concept in the larger circle, and continue to add to the map as you work through the unit.
Venn diagrams are helpful to compare related terms. For example, when teaching magnets, we compare “attraction” and “repulsion”. This enables students to see the relationship between the two forces in an organized way.
You can also have students create a chart to represent the ways magnets are used in the real world. For instance, list several professions or industries across the top of your paper (mining, medical, construction, manufacturing, food, technology, etc.) and then record the ways each one might use magnets.
Teaching with Hands-On Magnets Practice
After you lay the groundwork for magnets using the anchor text, be sure to allow time for some tactile learning. There are tons of fun activities you can use, but here are my favorites.
Collect a variety of household objects for students to test with magnetic wands. I always try to provide some objects that may surprise students with the results. For example, some students might expect a coin or a sheet of aluminum foil to be magnetic, while they might predict that sand is not. (Mix in some iron fillings with your sand to amaze your students!)
Demonstrate Magnetic Force
Provide several different magnets of various sizes and strengths. Develop an experiment to test the magnetic force of each one by placing an object such as a paperclip on a sheet of paper, then dragging a magnet underneath the paper to move the paperclip. Repeat the experiment with different magnets, or change the thickness of the paper to test the strength of the magnet.
When I’m teaching a magnets unit, I always pick a fun video to show that relates to the concepts we’ve worked on in class. Science Max videos are usually a hit; in this video, a zany scientist uses magnets to build a platform on which he can levitate.
Whether you are teaching science virtually or in the classroom, I hope this lesson will engage your students and make your job a little easier! If you need a more complete resource for teaching magnets, check out my full no-prep Magnets Unit!
Want more no-prep science lessons? Head over to my TPT store, where you can find science units that align with NGSS for grades 3-5, available in both print + digital!