We made some simple magnet sticks last week and they have been inspiring way more creating and creativity than I could possibly have imagined. Making them was a creative activity in itself, and yet the magnet sticks are one of those products that inspire open-ended play and creative expression.
This was a project Daphne and I worked on together when Maia was at school. She was looking for a magnet to hang her latest drawing on the fridge but couldn’t find one that wasn’t in use. I took down some older papers, handed her the free magnet, and made the offhand comment that maybe it was time to make some new magnets.
I should remember not to make comments like that unless I intend to follow through.
I couldn’t find any of the round wooden disks that we’d used to make magnets in the past (a project in The Artful Parent book), so was about to say we’d have to wait for another day when I remembered some magnets made with wood craft sticks that I had seen on Pinterest. I knew we had some of those!
And so, on the spur of the moment, Daphne and I made a slew of painted wooden magnet sticks for the fridge.
DIY Painted Wooden Magnet Sticks
- Jumbo wood craft sticks
- Sharpie permanent markers
- Liquid Watercolors (other paints would work, too)
- Magnet disks (either the stick on kind or the kind you’ll need to glue on)
- Hot glue gun (not needed if you have the stick-on kind of magnets)
1. Draw or doodle on the wood craft sticks with the permanent markers. This step isn’t strictly necessary. I did a mix of marker lines and paint on the magnet sticks I decorated; Daphne made a couple that were marker only and many that were paint only.
2. Paint the wood craft sticks with the liquid watercolor paints. Let dry.
Daphne has been into color mixing lately and spends about half of her painting time mixing colors these days. The result is often brown (big surprise) and she celebrates it.
“Look Mom! I made brown!”
Here are Daphne’s color-mixing-experiment painted sticks and my doodled pattern sticks, all drying.
3. Attach the magnets to the backs of the painted sticks, with one magnet at each end. If you have sticker magnets, as Daphne does here, you can simply peel off the protective paper and press the sticker magnet to the wood. This is a great fine motor activity and allows the child to stay involved during the entire process.
If you have regular magnetic disks, as I do here, you can use a drop from the hot glue gun to attach them.
4. Play with your new magnet sticks on the fridge! Or any magnetic surface.
Experiment with the magnets and magnetic force…
…write letters and words with the magnet sticks…
…turn it into a letter store and sell your letters…
…create patterns and designs with the painted and doodle sticks…
…create a house for people…
…drive cars out of a parking garage and along the road…
…and give old ladies crazy hair and braces.
The creating and playing with the magnet sticks has continued. This morning there was a simple equation on the fridge. We haven’t used our new magnets to hang artwork yet, but I imagine when it happens there will be more than one “frame” made out of the magnet sticks.
Other Ways to Make Popsicle Stick Magnets (from around the web):
- Popsicle stick magnets using upcycled magnets from Pure and Noble
- Popsicle stick magnet shapes on Teach Preschool
- DIY velcro building sticks on Mama Papa Bubba