Magnet Sticks
Creative Play

Create Your Own Painted Magnet Sticks – Great for Imaginative Play!


 – Great for Imaginative Play!

We made some simple magnet sticks last week and they inspired more creativity than I could possibly have imagined.

Making them was a creative activity in itself, but the magnet sticks are inspiring so much 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.

But 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 I 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.

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How to Make Painted Wood Magnet Sticks



1. Draw on craft sticks

Doodle or draw 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 craft sticks

Paint the wood craft sticks with the liquid watercolor paints. Let dry.

Daphne is 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 Magnets to Craft Sticks

Position the magnets on 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.

DIY Painted Magnet Sticks for Kids

If you have regular magnetic disks, you can use a drop from the hot glue gun to attach them.

Imaginative Play with Magnet Sticks

1. Play with your magnet sticks on the fridge (or any magnetic surface)!

2. Experiment with Magnets & Magnetic Force

3. Write letters and words

4. Sell your letters at a pretend store.

5. Create patterns & designs

6. Make a house for people.

7. Drive cars out of a parking garage and along the road.

8. And give old ladies crazy hair and braces.

The creating and playing with the magnet sticks continues! 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.

MORE POPSICLE STICK MAGNETS (from around the web):

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 – Great for Imaginative Play!


  • Reply
    February 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    this is ingenious! must try!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Thanks, Rachel! Glad you like the idea. They were so easy to make and Daphne loved every step of creating them. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Great idea! Will definitely try this!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Awesome, Kelly! Hope your family enjoys them as much as we do!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I LOVE this! I plan to have my two older kids make this for their little brother’s birthday. No doubt all three kids will enjoy playing with them. Thanks for the great idea.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      What a wonderful idea for a kid-made sibling present!! :)

  • Reply
    February 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    This is such a great idea! My son loves playing with his magnet letters on the fridge and I think these would be a big hit too!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 16, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Thanks, Francine! Give it a try! The fun thing about these magnet sticks is that they can be used for making letters and numbers (I woke up to an equation on the fridge the other day) as well as art, designs, and play (like the cars…). They are so open ended!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2014 at 2:03 am

    These are awesome. I wonder a good place to get sticker magnets and the craft sticks? Can’t wait to try these!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I love this project! Looks like so much fun to make and to use — putting it on the list for our next rainy day!!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2014 at 6:55 am

    What a fantastic idea, I’m off to order my magnetic discs, can’t wait to get started my class are going to love this. You have such a great site.

  • Reply
    April 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I am so excited to make these this afternoon. My son (3.5) saw a picture of your little girl playing with them on Facebook this morning and said we had to make them! I gathered the supplies this morning at the drugstore. We’ve struggled with art classes and other projects but he is never interested very long, a very spirited and energetic little kid to say the least. He looks through your pictures and website and wants to make it all and learn more–it completely inspires him. I’m so grateful, thank you!!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2014 at 6:57 am

    I love this project and am planning to do it with daughter (4) and nephew (8) at our family beach week in a few weeks. I assume that these are the tongue depressor sized craft sticks (not the thin ones)? Do you think regular watercolors will work OK? And finally, what are the small round disc ones that your daughter used for eyes? Thank you as always for the creative and fun ideas. Your house always looks so fun and peaceful. Perfect place to create!

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