Try these fun ideas for exploring science with trains. Using several train activities your child will use trains to explore and discover magnetism.
Exploring Science with Trains
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Research Before Beginning Kids Activity
I admit that I am not an expert when it comes to magnets, but I wanted to have a basic understanding of some key terms to be better able to explain them to my children. A quick 3-5 minute article will help me make sure I’m using some rich vocabulary words in the right way.
Most teachers get science manuals where this background information is provided to them prior to teaching it to a class; there is no reason we can’t be prepared either!
Here are some links to articles about magnets that I read to learn more.
- Fun facts about magnets for kids
- How magnets work
- Magnetic activities for older students (or parents like me who want to learn more)
- Magnet Overview
In the following activities, children will use trains to explore magnetism.
***Parent NOTE: Parent supervision is recommended for every project and activity featured on this blog. We use magnets to explore and learn with for preschool, but please be aware that magnets are hazardous if swallowed. Read through the activity before you decide if it is appropriate for your child. Do not give magnets to young children who still put things in their mouths.***
Activity 1: What objects are magnetic?
Wand magnet or wooden train with magnet
Talk to your child about magnets.
Magnets have the power to attract, stick, or pull together other objects.
Explain that on the end of the wooden train is a magnet that can attract other magnetic items. Go on a magnetic walk around your house and try to find objects that are magnetic (meaning they will stick to your train magnet)
Activity 2: How strong is your magnet?
Magnets come in different sizes and strengths. In this activity, children will explore the strength of the magnets inside the trains. They will see how many paper clips the magnet will hold in a chain. Before beginning, have your child write their prediction down on a piece of paper. Will your train magnet hold up 1 paper clip? 2? 3?
Wooden train with magnet
small paper clips
1. Attach the paperclips to the magnet in a line. Go slowly. When the magnet is no longer strong enough to hold the next paperclip. Then you are done.
2. Repeat the exploration several times for accuracy. Sometimes, the paperclips will fall off when little hands bump them. (This activity is also great for honing fine motor skills)
3. Vary the activity using other trains. Is each train magnet the same strength? How do you know?
4. Compare the strength of another magnet, such as the wand magnet, to that of the train magnet.
Activity 3: The Mystery of the Moving Train, Attract and Repelling
Magnets have North and South Poles. Opposite poles attract, like poles repel. In this activity, children explore this concept of attracting and repelling in attempts to move their trains without touching them!
Wooden train with magnet
Wooden train tracks
1. Put the wooden train on the track.
2. Using the wand magnet or another train, see if you can make the train move without touching it. (repel)
Here are some additional activities that you can do with your kids to help them learn with trains:
- Read train-themed books together.
- Play train games, such as “I Spy” or “Simon Says.”
- Sing train songs.
- Go on train rides.
- Visit a train museum.
- Build a train set together.
- Draw and color pictures of trains.
- Write stories about trains.
By doing these activities with your kids, you can help them learn about reading and math while having fun at the same time.