It can be challenging to find fun activities that take up little space and keep preschoolers entertained on a trip or in a waiting room. It’s even more challenging if we want those activities to be educational. Magnet activities can be a perfect solution. Magnets are by nature entertaining and educational. Today, I have some magnetic vehicle STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) trays with materials that can easily be used for activity bags.
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Magnetic Vehicle STEM Trays
I used a variety of printable roads for the activities. Even young preschoolers can have fun using the magnet to move the racer along the roads.
Both of these activities work well for preschoolers through early elementary. Although the first one can easily be used by young preschoolers, the second activity requires an adult’s or older child’s help taping a magnet to the vehicle being used.
The second activity is especially interesting because the vehicles can be pulled (attracted) by opposite magnetic poles or pushed (repelled) by the same magnetic poles.
Materials Used for Magnetic Vehicle STEM Trays
- Trays ( I used Multicraft wooden trays.)
- Magnetic Racer with magnet for the first tray
- Free Printable: Travel Busy Bag: Road Map from The Practical Mom
- Free Printable: Printable Roads from Be a Fun Mum
- Free Printable: Mini Road Map Busy Bag Printable from DIY Mommy
- Free Printable: Magnet Car Challenge from DIY Science Kit at Preschool Powol Packets (I printed mine in a smaller size, but you can use whichever size you prefer.)
- You don’t even need to laminate the printables for the activity bags!
- 2 Bar Magnets (I purchased two magnet science kits to have enough magnets for all my magnet activities. After I purchased the first kit, I was so happy with the strength of the magnets that I decided to purchase a second kit. You could just have two bar magnets instead of the kit.)
- Tape for attaching a bar magnet to each miniature vehicle when it’s ready to be used
- Montessori Services basket for vehicles
- Miniature vehicles (I used Micro Machines, which we still had from when my now-adult son was a child. Almost any type of miniature vehicle will work as long as a bar magnet can be taped to the top of it.
Magnetic Vehicle STEM Activity Bags
Many of us like to limit the time toddlers and preschoolers spend on technology. So when we travel, go to restaurants, or spend time in waiting rooms, we like to bring hands-on activities with us. It’s even better when they’re fun, learning activities such as the Magnetic Vehicle STEM activities. These can easily fit into an activity bag. From what I’ve read, magnets such as the ones used for these activities shouldn’t hurt anything other than credit cards (possibly), so just don’t place the activity bags right against a credit card.
I brought the magnetic vehicle STEM activity bags with us when we visited my parents in South Dakota last week. When we had a long layover at the Denver airport, I got out the activity bags for my 3½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey. They were especially nice because the bag with Micro Machines was used for the magnetic vehicle activity and then for free play with the vehicles. Zoey even found a little boy about her age to share vehicles and play with.
Materials Used for Magnetic STEM Activity Bags
- Pencil Pouches (These are awesome because they’re attractive, durable, lightweight, and uniform in size. The rings make it easy to add a binder ring to hold them together. They’re stackable, so they’re perfect for a tote bag.)
- 1½” binder ring for fastening pencil pouches together (I often use these for making homemade books as well.)
- Cardstock for printing (I don’t laminate these because they’re easier to fold when they’re not laminated. You can just fold an 8½x11″ page in half, and it’ll fit in the pencil pouch. You can laminate the printables if you wish, but I personally don’t bother with lamination for activity bags.)
- Magnetic Vehicle STEM activities
More Ideas for Magnetic Activity Bags
Many of the activities from my “Free Magnet Printables and Montessori-Inspired Magnet Activities” could work well in an activity bag.
Activity Bags in a Parent Bag, Grandma Bag, or Nanny Bag
This is my grandma bag, which I am totally in love with! It’s a camera bag/purse that can carry a camera, laptop, and almost anything else. I don’t use it as a laptop bag because I carry activity bags in that section (although you can move the dividers around as needed). I love that it protects my camera and is the perfect bag for plane trips as well as family outings. Update: The one I have is no longer available, but you can find a variety of ideas and prices of multi-compartment camera bags here.
More Montessori-Inspired Activity Bags
Traveling with Kids – Montessori-Inspired Activities (roundup with lots of Montessori-inspired activity bags and other transportable activities)
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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