Yesterday as I was setting up my classroom, I grabbed these magnetic builders, but I didn’t want to have them on the floor or our big magnet board because I had other activities laid out. Instead, I gathered two metal cookie sheets and popped them at the table with the magnetic building toys. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but based on the children’s excitement, you’d have thought the students had never played with this toy before. Except they knew how to work it and work it, they did! It was so much fun to see them explore something familiar in a novel way. I looked at my co-teacher and exclaimed: “Well, that was a good idea, better remember this one!” That’s how teaching preschool works; you try out ideas, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they flop, and usually, the ones that work are crazy simple like this preschool STEM activity.
Gather your materials. You will need some cookie sheets, magnetic toys ( use my affiliate link to find the exact magnetic builders here), and some students excited to build.
That’s it, friends.
As I watched my students build, I was fascinated by their play. There was a lot of Paw Patrol pretend play happening, some superhero build and crash scenarios, and one student tested each magnet to see if they stuck together or repelled with the interest of a full-grown scientist!
After watching multiple children move through this station at will, I figured out why this new delivery system for an everyday activity was so popular; it was contained. What I think worked in this case was that for 3-year-olds having the magnets on one cookie sheet allowed them to really control them. The ball connectors didn’t roll away, and friends were respectful of their building area, which is generally the case anyway, but I think the sheet made the builder feel more secure. It was easier to be successful. Please excuse my bad photoshop skills ( there was originally an adorable and very proud 3-year-old in this photo, but I don’t share my students’ faces online).
When you build with these on the floor, it’s harder to build UP because they don’t stick to the floor. On our magnet board, they can only build-out so far before they crash down, thanks to gravity. But on the cookie sheet, they could build up higher than before. Additionally, they weren’t overwhelmed by an ample space and no direction. By having fewer options, their play wasn’t stunted, it was supported.
Have I mentioned, I adore watching children play and learn? They fascinate me to no end.
What old toy do you have in your classroom that you could use in a new way this week? I would love to hear about it, so leave a comment below!
Need more Preschool STEM?
Check out these simple outdoor ideas.
Julie S says
I love it when an tried-and-true toy can be tweaked in a different way. I have Costco baking sheets in my classroom that I use for all kinds of things. Sadly, they are not magnet friendly (I think they’re aluminum). Looks like I need to invest….