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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Primarily Magnets

I got the chance to review another cool product from a company called AIMS - which stands for Activities Integrating Math and Science.  The product I reviewed was a book called Primarily Magnets - which is basically a science book for K-2. 

I remember loving magnets when I was a kid, so I was excited about this one.  Remember those fuzzy faced men games you could get at Woolworth's...or Ben Franklin?  Am I sounding old?  You know the ones where there were the little pieces of metal shavings that you could move around with the magnet/magic wand to give him a unibrow or mustache or beard?

I just looked it it is..... Wooly Willy.....with his "magnetic personality"!


That is what I was envisioning for this magnet study....hours o'fun.   And, it was! 

Primarily Magnets even had a lesson  called Magnet O Man - a modern version of Wooly Willy, but they took it a step further and offered  4 different faces to use for your faces ...including a woman!!!


We didn't do this one though, because I really did NOT want iron shavings around my house (they did recommend putting the shavings into a clear plastic bag and taping that to the face...and then moving them around, but, I just knew that, at my house, those bags would get punctured....thus, I would have iron shavings laying around my house!)

The first part of the book gives general information on magnets, magnetic poles, magnetic alignment, magnetic fields....that kind of stuff.  I didn't read any of this to A-man who was in the targeted age range for this product.  It mostly served as a refresher for me....and, I have to admit, I did learn a thing or two I don't remember learning about in school.  

Like, there can never be a magnet with only one pole (I guess it seems sort of obvious....but for some reason, I just got it this time my 40's....I did remember that like sides repel and opposites attract, though!)....oh, something else I learned....if you ever break a magnet, each piece then becomes another complete magnet with the correct, complementary pole forming at each of the broken ends.

The book is broken into sections for: 

Magnets Interacting With Other Materials
Magnets Interacting With Other Magnets
Magnetic Fields
Everyday Uses of Magnets
Culminating Experiences

I used this book and what I called "experiments" with A-man and S-girl (even though she is only 4...she was interested, so I went with it).

They had a lot of fun gathering up stuff from around the house to see if it would stick to a magnet....for the lesson called A Sticky Business.  They learned a good lesson that not all metal or shiny stuff is magnetic!   Including the one I only learned a few years ago....that you can't hang your kid's art projects on your fridge (you can finally afford)...if it is stainless steel!

A-man really liked the one called Find the Force....probably because we sort of love Star Wars around here: 

And, of course, being the nerd that I am, I used various Star Wars voices whenever I said it..... "May the Force be with you."  "A-man, I am your mother."  You get the idea.  We didn't do this one exactly as it was described, as it called for cardboard milk cartons, but, we got the point ....of sort of hiding the magnets and using another magnet to "Find the Force".

What I liked:  This was just fun.  I also liked the repeated reminders of what magnets should not be used for....or near....things like:  TVs; VCR/DVD players; computers; microwave ovens; credit cards; wind-up watches (does anyone have those anymore?); tape recorders; answering machines (same question applies as for the wind-up watches!).

The book came with a CD that had all the things you would need to print in order to play the games or try the experiments in PDF, if you didn't want to make photocopies from the book, you could just print the number of pages you wanted and not stand at the printer holding the book.

What I didn't like:  I thought magnets would be easier to find than they were.  I had my friend, Debby, help me look for them (because she actually gets out shopping more than me).  She went to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart.....she did find some ring magnets....but, in large quantities.  U-shaped or Cow magnets, luck.  I may have been able to find them at a teacher store, but, I never got the chance to check. 

The magnets are available through AIMS....but since the ring magnets came in packages of 25....I figured that I didn't need to have THAT many around my house, so I didn't want to go that route.  This book needed ring magnets and a "cow" magnet - which is basically what I call a bar magnet.  (To find out the interesting back story on why it is called a "cow" magnet....and what is used for click here.....there is a little yuck factor....but it is interesting, nonetheless.)  Here is what I used instead:

They are left over from a magnetic building set that D-man had when he was little.  I also used a few refrigerator magnets.  They worked....but not as well as the ring magnets and cow magnets would have.

So, in retrospect, I should have just had the 25 ring magnets floating around my house for $5.95 and the cow magnet for $4.95 each from the AIMS store. 

A lot of the things in this book seem more geared towards a classroom type setting, (note the package of 25 ring magnets...and the use of small cardboard milk cartons) but, I was easily able to adapt them for my use and, I think, most of the others could also be adapted with your homeschool "classroom". 

There is prep time involved with most of the activities, so make sure you factor that into your plans and don't just sit down to try one of the experiments (like I did the first time.....oops).

If nothing else, it gave me a lot of fun ideas for stuff to try with magnets.  There were two specific ones that I didn't get to try that I wanted to.  One was Painting with Magnets (using a magnet to move a paperclip paintbrush through paint) and the other was Make It Fly (using sticky notes, a paper clip, and a piece of yarn) to create a kite that then you make fly with magnets.

The book says that it is for K-2...but, like I said S-Girl who is 4,  had a lot of fun with this....and I sort of had to chase away the big kids too when we were doing these.  I suspect I will be ordering my 25 ring magnets and doing the kite flying and painting tricks with all 6 kids....and probably Rainman too!

I used this product as a supplement for us, but it could be used to meet actual curriculum standards too.  There is a section in the book where it talks about what standards it meets, like Project 2061 Benchmarks, National Science Education Standards; and NCTM Standards 2000.  In their catalogue, the even have some State-Specific science options for you in grades K-6.  Click here to get an alignment with your state standards and a free sample activity. 

You can check out all of the other cool stuff AIMS has here.

If you are interested in Primarily Magnets, you can get it here for $18.95.

This really was a fun activity to review and it brought back lots of memories on my childhood playing with Wooly Willy and the big U shaped magnet that my Grandma had.

I received a free copy of the book Primarily Magnets in exchange for writing an honest review of this product.