Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: What Makes A Magnet

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What Makes A Magnet written by Franklin M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley explores the exciting world of magnets.  This whimsical book explains what a magnet is, what types of materials magnets are attracted to and how to make a magnet.  What Makes A Magnet also explains how and why the “ends of a magnet are different” (pg. 18) and the Earth’s magnetic field. The book explores why “magnets are strongest at the poles” (pg. 19) by creating a fishing experiment which demonstrates that magnets attract things made of iron.  What Makes A Magnet explains how “magnetism is everywhere on this Earth of ours.  It goes through air and water, glass and walls, cardboard and tabletops.” (pg. 32)

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “A magnet picks up only things  that have a lot of iron in them.” (pg. 10)
  • “The Earth is a magnet because it contains a lot of iron.  The moon does not have as much iron, so it is not a magnet.  Your compass would not work on the moon.” (pg. 21)
  • “Like poles repel each other; unlike poles attract.” (pg. 27)

Curriculum Connections:
What Makes A Magnet
is a colorful, educational read-aloud for children in  kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. For kindergarten and first grade, this book will allow students to investigate and understand that magnets have an effect on some materials, make some things move without touching them, and have useful applications.  Furthermore, What Makes A Magnet demonstrates that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion. (VA SOL K.3 and VA SOL 1.2)  For second grade, What Makes A Magnet is the perfect book to explain slightly more advanced ideas of the Earth’s magnetic field and the north and south poles of a magnet. Students will also be able to investigate and understand that natural and artificial magnets have certain characteristics and attract specific types of metals. (VA SOL 2.2)  

Additional Resources

  • TeAchnology is an online website that offers a wide range of introductory lessons to teachers about magnets, the magnetic field and other themes important to magnets and electricity.
  • This Core Lesson Plan helps teachers design experiments for kindergartners to aid in their understanding of the subject material and capture their attention.
  • What Makes A Magnet offers several activities throughout the text to help students understand the concepts of attraction/repulsion and the north pole/south pole of magnets.

Book: What Makes A Magnet
Author: Franklyn M. Branley
Illustrator: True Kelley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 1996
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade
ISBN: 978-0060264413