Magnetism and Using Worksheets in the Montessori Inspired Homeschool

Today we worked on some exploration with magnets. 

I found this very small, inexpensive set of magnets at a local school supply store here. They didn't have the one I REALLY wanted, so I settled for a cheaper one for the time being. 

I prepared for our day this morning by going online and printing off a few ready-made free worksheets. And here is where you insert the gasp-heard-round-the-world. :) 

I generally shy away from worksheets - we don't use them on a daily basis. I would not print out a worksheet for something that was new to my children. I believe you should always, as much as possible, give your children a concrete learning experience long before bringing in anything abstract, like a worksheet. In this case, they had already had that. 

When you are working with children who have had the concrete first experiences you can build off of those with some that review what they know and give them a chance to expand and show what they have retained. That's my feelings towards worksheets and combining them with a Montessori inspired homeschool. Generally not necessary, but can sometimes prove helpful if they are targeting what you are working on together. On to the fun pictures :) 

We all gathered around the table to talk about what makes up a magnet, and did several fun things (of which I have no pictures because my hands were rather busy) to talk about magnetic fields and how you can't feel them in their own with one magnet but see proof of them as you put two magnets together, first on synonymous poles and then opposite poles and see the reaction of the magnet. They thought the most fun part was when we laid two of the magnet bars on the table and used one to scoot the other along in a line, in circles, and finally figuring out how to make it fall off the table.

This led to a small rabbit-trail discussion of whether it was possible that the makers of the Lego movie could have used a magnet in the scene at the end where Emmett falls off the table.

(I couldn't find a youtube video that showed that specific scene, but this one is right before and right after it)

We did a few sheets about predicting what would and wouldn't be magnetic, then tested our predictions. I didn't get a good picture of us actually testing what we pulled out, but we had two groups of objects. 
Group #1 - seashell, washer, crayon, small springs, scissors, keys, and a pencil
Group #2 - penny, quarter, dime, nickel, can (vegetables), tweezers, a screw, measuring spoons, paperclip, fork, ziploc bag. 
They were all able to take turns seeing what was and wasn't magnetic, and saw that sometimes an object might LOOK magnetic when it really isn't. We also discussed how some things, like the scissors, are both magnetic and non magnetic, and some things - like the measuring spoons - might depend on what type and that there isn't always an absolute yes or no for different objects. 

We took a side trail here and everyone was sent to find 5 things they wanted to try with the magnets, and we made a list of what was magnetic, non-magnetic, and both. Then I showed them how they can lay that information out in a Venn Diagram. 

Next we used a couple printables to test and record the strength of a magnet as it passes through another object. They thought it was amazing that a magnet could lift their paperclips through glass, wood, cardboard, and even plastic. They really enjoyed watching the magnet not only lift the paper clips but me be able to move the clip around with the magnet.

This was just a fun little coloring certificate that I printed off for them to stick with their 'research papers' in their binders. This, of course, is obviously Buddy's work. 

Most of them scattered to do other things after our lesson, but Buddy grabbed the magnets and began a little work of his own. In this picture he has actually made something of a pattern with magnet-paperclip-magnet and found out that he could pull the entire line of magnets and clips with just one magnet.

Which inspired this 'train' that he played with for almost 20 minutes.

I couldn't help but take this picture. After I finished helping the others get their work put away, I caught his eye while he was playing. He very calmly informed me that the strong magnets in 'his train' were the 'men and boys' and the magnets that weren't strong enough to pull the train were the 'old ladies and girls' and that is why they were all by themselves in a pile. Oh, what a mess this little guy is...

And that was the big excitement today :) Now I think they are outside cleaning up from giving the dog an impromptu bath that I am sure they loved and he hated. 

Never a dull moment!!!


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