Will it Stick?

Print Lesson


Students will be able to sort common objects into categories to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.

Big Idea

Exploring what sticks to a magnet helps students classify magnetic and non-magnetic items.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard and draw two lines to divide the screen into three sections. At the top of one column I write Know, the top of the middle column I write Want to Know and at the top of the last column I write Learned.

“Can anyone tell me anything they know about magnets?”

I select several students to respond to the question, but I will only put the three most important things on the board in the first column. The reason I put the three most important is because many students will repeat what others have said but perhaps not in the same words. For example, one student may say, “Magnets stick to metal,” and another may say, “Nails stick to magnets.”

In the end we have:

  • Metal sticks to magnets.
  • Magnets are made of metal.
  • Magnets are strong.

“Great now we have some things we think we know about magnets. In this column I would like to put some things that we would like to know about magnets.”

Once again I select several students to respond to the question, but I will only put the three most important things on the board in the first column.

In the end we have:

  • Can you buy magnets?
  • Does all metal stick to magnets?
  • Will a magnet pick up a car?

“Great now we have some things we know and we have some things we want to find out. We are going to go ahead and read a book about magnets to see if we can get some it not all of our questions answered.”


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called Magnets: Pulling Together, Pushing Apart. It is written by Natalie M. Rosinsky and illustrated by Sheere Boyd.”

“Can anyone tell me what kind of book they think this book will be?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond to the prompt.

“Grace thinks this book is a non-fiction book. Why do you think this book is a non-fiction book?”

“Grace thinks this will be a non-fiction book because we are reading to try and find out some information. I think she is right. Let’s go ahead and see if our prediction is correct.”


During reading we take note of the table of contents, the labels, and the bold words. “This book has lots of features of a non-fiction text so I think Grace’s prediction is correct.”

We discuss some of the new vocabulary words such as repel and attract. We review words we know such as pole, push and pull.


After reading I have the students tell me anything they learned from the book.

“To complete our KWL chart can anyone tell me something they learned from our book?”

I listen closely to what the students say and pick the most important points and I will also note if anyone was able to answer the questions from our “Want to Know” column.

In our final column we end up with:

  • Not all metal sticks to magnets – only metal with iron.
  • A big magnet can pick up a car.
  • The earth is magnetic.
  • We can make a magnet.
  • A compass is a magnet.

“We learned some great facts. Were we able to answer all of our questions from our “Want to Know” column?”

“Your right we did not so we will have to do some more research to find out the answer to if we can buy a magnet from a store.”

“Today at one of your work stations you are going to find magnets for each person, some different items in a tub and a recording sheet like this one. There is also an empty blue bin and an empty red bin. It will be your job to select a magnet and test which items are magnetic or not. You will record your results on your sheet.”

“Once you have tested the item put it in the blue bin if it is magnetic and the red bin if it is not magnetic.”

“Remember a good scientist tests the item more than once, usually three times, to make sure they get the same result each time and then it is a true test.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some magnetic sorting fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

 Students working on testing items.                 Student recording results of test.



The Importance of Sorting.



10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Student sample of our recording sheet.


Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me whether or not an item is magnetic or not magnetic.

“Boys and girls for your exit ticket today I am going to hold up a picture of an item. You will look at the picture and determine if the item is magnetic or not magnetic. Tell me what you think it is and then go get your snack.”

I use the fair sticks to select the order in which the students get to go.

If a student has difficulty deciding if the item I show them is magnetic or not, they can do one of two things. They can:

  1. Ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can pass and wait until everyone is gone and we will work on figuring it out together.


Using this very quick and easy exit ticket method everyday gets the students into a routine and they know what to expect as a continuation of their learning. The exit ticket gives me a quick glimpse of how a student is doing when they either fluently give me a response or if they struggle I know I may need to do each support work with that particular student. The exit ticket also supports the lesson we have just completed and ties it up before moving on with the rest of our day.  


I use the Magnetic Non-Magnetic Sort Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the point that I am looking to see if a student sorted the magnetic and non-magnetic items into the correct category on the recording sheet. I also make comment on how neat and tidy the work is.

The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 


The next day the students had a simple Magnetic Sort assessment for morning work based on the lesson we did. They had to cut out the images at the bottom of the paper and place the item in the correct category of: Objects Attracted or Objects Not Attracted. This morning work reinforced the information the students had learned on the previous day. 

Student sample 1              Student sample 2                  Student sample 3



Students explore using different kinds of magnets and different materials.

Students exploring magnets.                Student exploring magnetic properties.



At another one of integrated work stations the students were presented with two boats. One boat had a nail for a mast and the other had a drinking straw. The students were told the two boats would be put into a tub of water and a magnet would be held at one end of the tub. Their job was to predict which boat would reach the edge of the tub first and state why. 

Our two test boats. One with nail mast, one with straw mast.

Student working on prediction paper.                  A close up of one students prediction.



Students work at trying to “drive” cars using paper cars with a paper clip attached to them and a magnet under the table. They try and keep the car on the road and follow the road over the table surface.