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ACTIVITY in Physical Properties, Introduction, Interdisciplinary. Last updated March 25, 2020.


In this activity, students will investigate the physical properties of magnetism.

Grade Level

Elementary school


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to

  • identify the characteristic of “magnetism” as a physical property
  • use the vocabulary words in this lesson to teach someone about magnets
  • list everyday uses of magnets

Chemistry Topics

  • Physical Properties


Teacher Preparation: 30 minutes per day

Lesson: Three 30 minute periods


  • magnet foldable pattern
  • red construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • vocabulary word/definitions
  • pencils
  • clear 9x12 container for each small group
  • iron filings
  • timer
  • plain paper
  • bar magnets
  • chart paper


  • Remind the students to NOT to put anything in their mouths or eyes.
  • Do not let the students touch the filings. Please have them safely sealed in the clear container before they are passed out to the small groups.
  • Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • When students complete the activity, instruct them how to clean up their materials.

Teacher Notes

Day 1 Learning Target: Magnet vocabulary - magnet, repel, attract, pole

  • Step 1: Each student will trace and cut out a “Mr. Magnet” (requires a free membership to Teachers Pay Teachers). The cover of the magnet can be decorated with a face. The inside of the magnet will be used to take notes.
  • Step 2: Show the Video introduction to magnets.
  • Step 3: Give each small group one of the vocabulary words and the definition (see student handout). Small groups of students will become an expert scientist on one magnet related vocabulary term. Then each will share their knowledge of their magnetic vocabulary words with another group. Each student will keep track of their vocabulary word on their Mr. Magnet.
  • Step 4: Magnet Vocabulary Word Search.

Day 2 Learning Target: Can you write your name with iron filings and a magnet?

  • Step 1: Break students into small groups
  • Step 2: Give each group a clear container (9x12 clear plastic or glass) with iron filings in it. The top of the container will need to be covered with clear saran wrap that is securely taped on. Also give each group a timer and a plain piece of paper.
  • Step 3: Before you pass out the magnets to each group demonstrate how you can make the iron filings move. Challenge each student to try and form the letters of their name.
  • Step 4: Pass out one magnet for each group. Students should set a timer so they each get equal time with the magnet (~2-3 minutes each). After they have had their turn with the magnet, they can sketch their results on the plain paper. If time allows they can add a description with words to their sketch.
  • As a challenge, see if they can use the words magnet, pole, repel, and attract in their description.

Day 3 Learning target: Real world connections

Step 1: Think-Pair-Share:

  • Ask the group the question, how are magnets used in everyday life?
  • think on your own (silent)
  • share with an elbow partner
  • create a chart as a classroom team

Step 2: Classroom Team discussion

  • What do we have on the chart that was the same/different?

Another video to watch for more comprehension: The Science Behind Magnets

Cross-Disciplinary Extensions

Connect to Math:

  • Make a magnetic and non-magnetic pattern. Each student will get a strip of paper, a picture page of magnetic and non-magnetic objects, scissors, and glue.

Connect to Reading:

  • What Magnets Can Do by Allan Fowler
  • What Makes a Magnet? by Franklyn M. Branley
  • Attract and Repel: A Look at Magnets by Jennifer Boothroyd

Connect to Writing:

Write an acrostic poem using the word magnets.

For the Student



  • magnet
  • repel
  • attract
  • pole
Magnet Repel
Attract Pole
A magnet is an object or device that produces a magnetic field. A magnet has 2 poles, the north and the south pole.
Opposite poles of magnets always attaract each other. Like poles of two magnets always repel (push away) each other.