Empty Tic Tac Boxes or any small transparent plastic container - I've used pencil sharpener containers as seen in the picture shown. I just remove the sharpener.
Iron filings - These are little specs of iron. I've collected these from a welding shop. I used a huge magnet to collect them by passing it lightly over the work spaces and in no time, my magnet was covered in little black specs.
A magnet - Instead of buying them, you can use the ones found in old speaker boxes. I got mine from an electronics repair shop. See how all of the pieces are stuck together!
Instructions: Put a pinch of iron filings into the Tic Tac box and close the lid. Pull a magnet along the outside of the box and see the iron filings gravitate towards (and follow) the magnet wherever it goes! A variation of this activity is to take the iron filings out of the box and spread them on a sheet of paper so that the magnet can be placed at the underside of the paper (we call it 'Follow the Leader'). This version is a lot of fun... but it can get messy! If the iron filings get in direct contact with the magnet, it will be really tricky to get them off, they hold on tight! That's why it's safer to stick to using the transparent containers.
I used these store-bought magnets because there were just too darn cute... made of plastic with a magnet on each end.
This one was created using a Tic Tac container.
I bought this magnetic paperclip holder ages ago for stationary purposes, then I realized that it can be used in the magnet center. So there it remains, in the center for my students to put in and take out the paperclips. Who put those thumb tacks in there?!? (I've taken them out).
Have you tried this or any activity that is similar to this with your class? Post it in a comment below, I'd love to read about it. Also you can visit my teaching blog, Nyla's Crafty Teaching, to view some of my classroom creations.