I’m back with more art ideas for kids and the second installment of heavy metal art, this time in the form of Magnetic Doodles! If you didn’t catch our Heavy Metal Art Boxes be sure to hop over here. Today we are taking the iron filings OUT of the box and using them to draw. The most magical thing about this project is the way the iron filings spill out of the bottle and then stick to the magnetic sheets; it’s an experience that cannot be captured in photos, video, or words, but must really be experienced through touch and feeling the invisible force of magnetism. It’s sure to delight!
MAGNET SAFETY!!!! READ THIS FIRST!!!!
MAGNETS ARE A CHOKING HAZARD AND WORSE! Magnets should never EVER be ingested. Magnets are one of the few items that when swallowed may need surgical removal. If you have a child who even stands the remote chance of putting a magnet in their mouth please supervise this activity at all times or better yet, save it until they are older and able to understand this hazard. When working with magnets and children I prefer to ere on the side of caution and use big honking magnets that are not choking hazards!
Note: This projects does not use small magnets except for the optional clean-up process, still I like everyone to know the potential hazards when using magnets.
Now a word about IRON FILINGS:
- They are relatively inexpensive. I was thrilled to find iron filings are less than $10 when purchased online; we reuse ours at the end of this project so one pound of iron filings should last you a long time. They are generally sold for use in science projects.
- Iron filings are HEAVY. Wow! When my one pound of iron filings arrived in the mail I was shocked at how small the package was, until I lifted the filings out of the box and realized just how heavy they are. Talk about density!
- SAFETY: Iron filings should only be used with children who are old enough not to smell or ingest them. Iron filings made for science projects, like the ones here, are generally safe but are irritants if ingested, inhaled, or rubbed in the eyes. Make sure to warn children in advance about using them safely and wash their hands thoroughly when the project is done. Safety goggles would be a good preventive measure from getting them in the eyes. Beasue they are so heavy they don’t stand much a chance of being airborne, but they can get lifted up by sticky fingers!
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Art Ideas for Kids: Magnetic Doodles
- Magnetic Sheets
- Iron Filings
- Ceramic Magnet (optional)
- Colorful Paper
- Plastic Squeeze Bottles
- Recycled plastic or styrofoam trays large enough to hold one magnetic sheet with a piece of paper on top
- Scissors/Exacto knife
- Step One Trim paper as necessary to match your magnetic sheets.
- Step Two Place one magnetic sheet down on a tray. Place a piece of colorful paper over the magnetic sheet.
- Step Three Fill a squeeze bottle with iron filings. Clip the tip of the squeeze bottle off so that the filings can easily flow out of the tip. Don’t trim it so much that they spill out, you want a gentle continuous flow.
- Step Four Hold the squeeze bottle above the paper/magnetic sheet and “draw” with the iron filings
- Step Five When you are done you can gently lift the entire drawing (be sure to grab hold of the magnetic sheet) into a vertical position and the iron filings will stay in place due to the magnetic force.
- Step Six Over a tray, separate the paper from the magnetic sheet and watch the iron filings fall off the drawing. Start over!
There you have it, creative scientific fun!
For easy clean up I recommend collecting the iron filings in a “dump tray” then using a piece of folded paper or a funnel to put the filings back into the squeeze bottles. Any extra filings that have spilled out can be collected using a strong ceramic magnet.
Fabian Oefner. Fabian Oefner is a new artist to me but how I could have missed him until now is astounding. After all, he makes art from science, usually photographing scientific experiments extremely close-up to reveal just how beautiful chemistry, physics, and motion are. His work is absolutely stunning! Check out his TED talk on Psychedelic Science. And don’t miss his photographs of ferroliquid, it’s magnetic art on a nano level.
Art projects like magnetic doodles not only let kids explore their senses and creativity but teach them a thing or two about science, in this case about magnetism and density (those iron filings are sooooo dense). This idea is seriously easy and the nice thing about is that the filings can be collected when the project is done and reused for something else.
If you enjoyed this playful way to explore magnetism you will also want to check out Magnetic Sculptures and our Heavy Metal Art Boxes
Magnetism is also a fantastic jumping off point for exploring electricity. For older kids this Electricity and Magnetism Kit would be a great next step in learning about what you can do with magnets!
And don’t miss out on more unsual art ideas for kids here on Babble Dabble Do! Your child’s inner Fabian Oefner thanks you! Subscribe below or like us on FB!
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