Magnet board centers are a compact powerhouse in the classroom. Not only are they easy to make and change to fit a lesson, but they also provide a unique vertical play experience for students.
Benefits of working in a vertical space include:
- Working on a vertical surface, such as a magnet board, allows students to use large arm movements and improve their range of motion, strength, and flexibility in their upper limbs.
- Working in a kneeling or standing position improves core muscle strength and posture by encouraging the use of abdominal and back muscles to remain upright.
- Playing at a vertical surface will improve a child’s ability to cross the midline of their body as they use the entire surface.
Magnet boards are also relatively easy to make.
How to make a simple magnet board:
- attach a large oil pan to the back of a shelf unit
- use the side of a refrigerator, filing cabinet, or metal door
- purchase an office whiteboard that is magnetic
Making custom magnets is simple too. Just print out some great clip art, laminate for durability, and add some adhesive magnet sheet or magnets to the back!
Magnet Safety Warning
With magnets, please exercise caution in young children. While being an amazing learning tool, ingested magnets CAN BE FATAL so please do not leave the center unattended with children that may put small items in their mouths. Also, remember to check magnetic supplies often for loose or missing magnets!
Color Sorting Magnet Board
This bright and beautiful color sorting magnet board will instantly cheer up any classroom! Set it up near an art center year-round or as a temporary station during a unit on colors and color theory. Pair it up with this interactive bulletin board for maximum color fun!
Learning Objectives: Color recognition and color word identification skills are reinforced in this child-driven activity.
Number Sorting Board
Create this magnet board by placing one large numeral in each section of a large grid. Students match smaller numerals from a basket into the grid space. This board activity is a great addition to the Preschool Math Centers bundle!
Learning Objectives: Sorting numbers reinforces number identification and recognition. This can be extended even further by having one numeral 1, two numeral 2’s, and so on.
Identifying Numbers and Letters
One very important skill for preschoolers is the ability to identify which of these strange shapes are letters and which are numbers! This simple board is great practice for pre-reading and early math skills. To make it a self-checking station, have laminated sheets with letters on one page and numbers on the other. Students can check their own work as they put the magnets back in the basket.
Learning Objectives: Visual discrimination between letters and numbers, reinforcement of letter and numeral identification skills
Shape Sorting Magnet Board
According to NAEYC, one very important pre-math skill is shape identification. This easy shape sorting board allows students to practice what they have learned and check their own understanding.
Learning Objectives: Students learn that shapes can come in all sizes, colors, and patterns, but are still the same shape!
Animal Pattern Blocks Magnet Play
Playing with pattern blocks has numerous educational benefits. Many educators have them available to use in their classrooms. Putting them on a vertical surface maximizes the fun! By giving the students an outline with the pieces, they can recreate the picture by matching the correct shapes on the template, leading to a very successful outcome.
Learning Objectives: In particular, playing with pattern blocks may help students:
- classify shapes
- develop positive feelings about geometry
- gain a stronger grasp of spatial relationships
- develop an understanding of how geometric shapes can be decomposed
- hone spatial rotation skills
- acquire a precise vocabulary for manipulating shapes (e.g., “flip,” “rotate”)
Pattern Block Magnet Board – Challenge Edition!
While the general aspects are the same, this giant pattern block board shows the students how to make the shape. However, the magnetic pieces provided are far too big to be used on the template. Students have to decide how to rotate each piece to get it to fit without having guidelines underneath.
All of the Pattern Block Templates are from PreKinders.
Letter Matching Magnet Board
How many letters does a child learn? If you said “26,” you’re half-right! Uppercase and lowercase letters don’t always look the same, so it is an important pre-reading skill to be able to identify both upper and lower case letters. This activity is easy to adapt to any theme, as well. In the picture, the class was focusing on dental health, so the teacher put the lowercase letters on teeth!
Learning Objectives: Identifying uppercase and lowercase letter pairs helps build literacy skills. This board is great for different levels of learners as some letter pairs look very similar (C, J, K, O, P, S, U, V, W, X, Z), some are somewhat similar (B, F, L, M, N, T, Y) and some are completely dissimilar (A, D, E, G, I, Q, R).
Weather Clothing Board
If the class is learning about the weather, this magnetic weather clothing board is a must! Students can match different pieces of seasonal clothing and “dress” the magnet people. This is great for starting a conversation about how to dress for winter.
Clipart for this board was purchased from Whimsy Clips.
Learning Objectives: Awareness of environment, body parts, self-help skills
This magnet board goes well with the activities included in the “Getting Dressed for Winter” activities.
Halloween Writing Practice
Writing on the whiteboard is a very forgiving way for emergent learners to practice! Make this cute center for any theme by laminating the thematic words and backing with a magnet sheet.
Provide cute thematic shapes (inserted into a page protector) and dry erase markers.
Learning Objectives: Students practice writing letters and words. They use picture clues to read the thematic words.
Gingerbread Ten Frame Magnet Board
A seasonal favorite, the Gingerbread Ten Frame Magnet Board helps students become familiar with ten frames, an important subitizing skill. This board is easily adaptable for other seasons as well. Apples and trees for Fall, snowflakes and snowmen for Winter, flowers and bees for Spring, and buckets with seashells for Summer can all easily be substituted for the gingerbread theme.
But wait…what is a ten frame and why do students need to know what it is?
A ten frame is a rectangle, separated into two rows with 10 equal spaces, hence the name “ten frame”.
Ten frames are tools to help kids learn about number sense in a deeper, more cognitive way rather than rote memorization. It is a physical tool to understand the groupings of ten.
Do you need more information on this? Here is a great post about ten frames and the science behind them!
Learning Objectives: Students gain familiarity with using a ten frame while practicing one-to-one correspondence.
Marble Track Magnet Fun
Additional Safety Warning: Again, marbles can be choking hazards for students that are prone to putting items in their mouths. Supervise the students closely while they play at this center. Only put one or two marbles at the center so it is easy to keep track of them.
STEAM themed magnet boards are possible too!
This marble track magnet board helps teach many amazing scientific concepts, such as engineering, problem-solving, perseverance, creativity, spatial thinking, and imagination. While this Tumble Trax kit can be purchased specifically for a magnet board, using self-adhesive magnet sheets and some creativity in the block center could also lend itself to making an interesting board.
Learning Objectives: Students develop fine motor skills and work on STEAM skills at the same time. This is an excellent partner activity too, requiring cooperation and communication to get the marble to the bottom!
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