How To Make Your Own Magnet Toys

Simple craft ideas for making toys with magnets. Kids or adults can make refrigerator puzzles, a racecar, cookie sheet tic-tac-toe, and more.

Magnets make fascinating toys for all ages. With a little creativity, you can turn common magnets into fun playthings.

To make a racecar toy, use a small metal object, such as a large bolt, and a tiny box. Color the box to look like a racecar. Place it over the bolt and tape it in place. Turn an old game board or box top into a racetrack for your racecar. Paint the board green and paint a track on it. Tack a strip of wood on each end to raise it a few inches so you can place a magnetic wand under it. Strong magnet wands are available at sewing supply stores. With the magnet under the board, "drive" the car on the track. Make two cars and race with a friend.

You can use the same idea for a ship on the high seas. Tape a paper drawing of a ship onto an old pair of fingernail clippers and paint the board blue. You can be captain of your own "clipper ship."

Magnetic fishing toys are easy to make and fun to play with. Tie a string onto a dowel rod and tie a magnet wand onto the other end of the string. For a pond, save packing peanuts and place them in a dishpan. Mix a few iron or steel objects into the packing peanuts - bolts, nuts, fingernail clippers, etc. Try to fish objects by holding the fishing rod and lowering The magnet into the pond. For fun, you could tape a picture of a fish to each of the nuts and bolts. Use a long string and try fishing from a top bunk.

The promotional magnets given out in some cities can be recycled into refrigerator puzzles and games. Some of these are 4" by 6" or even larger. Glue a photo or picture on the front. Be sure to spread the glue evenly over the entire surface. When dry, cover the picture with clear contact paper for durability. Cut the puzzle into simple pieces carefully with a utility knife. These puzzles require quite a bit of manual dexterity and can be used to help a child develop fine motor skills. Try making three or more puzzles which each feature a different person standing. Cut so that the heads, bodies, and legs are interchangeable. These are good for lots of laughs.

Business card sized magnets can become a beginner's reading game. Cover the top with colored paper and print a three letter word. Cut into thirds for letter tiles. Make a set of letters in this way, and the child can make a lot of words. With only nine letters, a, b, c, h, m, o, p, s, and t, many phonetic words can be made. Just a few examples are bat, hat, mat, pat, sat, cot, hot, pot, bop, hop, mop, and top. These tiles are suitable for ages 4 and up. They are too small for a child who still puts things in his mouth. You may wish to make the vowels a different color.

You can make portable magnetic games, too. Start with a cookie sheet and some glue-on magnets. These magnets are available in the craft department for making homemade refrigerator magnets. Round ones are available as well as rolls of magnetic tape that can be cut with scissors. The round ones tend to be stronger magnets. Make sure the magnets will stick to the cookie sheet. If not, try another cookie sheet. Magnets will not stick to pure aluminum.

Now choose the game you wish to make. Checkers, tic-tac-toe, and games that require following a path are possibilities. You can even create your own game. Draw the game board on paper and tape it to the cookie sheet. The tape will come off, in case you wish to use it as a cookie sheet in the future. If you are making a permanent game, you can draw the game board directly on the cookie sheet and paint it. For markers, glue large buttons to the magnets. For tic-tac-toe, make a set of 5 markers in each of two colors. For checkers, use flat magnets like the advertising magnets described above. You will need to be able to stack them to indicate kings.

Here is a cute refrigerator magnet craft that makes good game markers. You will need some round magnets and clear glass gems. These are the clear stones sold in craft stores for use in fish bowls, rock gardens, etc. The stones are about 3/4 inch across, which is the same size as the magnets. Using a magnet as a pattern, cut out tiny motifs from magazine pictures. Using a clear-drying craft glue, attach a picture to a magnet. When dry, glue a clear stone over the picture. Use these for markers for magnetic board games.

These are just a few ideas for homemade magnetic toys. Get creative and have fun!

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