Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-8, students play Magnet Hunt, a game that invites students to use their knowledge of magnets and magnetic fields as well as a toolbox filled with compasses, iron filings, and magnetic film to a locate buried magnets. Through play, students explore and deepen their understanding of magnetism and electromagnetic conduction.


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Discover that magnets create magnetic fields.
  2. Experiment with magnets and magnetic fields.
  3. Recognize how magnetic fields interact with magnetic objects.
  4. Understand that there is a gradient as you move around a magnet.


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Sticky notes in four different colors


forces, magnets, magnetism, magnetic fields, magnetic poles, north and south poles


This lesson plan features a game called Magnet Hunt developed by our partner,  Field Day Lab. A playful exploration, the game invites players to use compasses, iron filings, and magnetic film as tools to outline magnetic fields and create clues to locate a buried magnet.

Preview and play Magnet Hunt to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

Read Magnet Hunt: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:

  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices
Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies: Magnetism, Compass, Electromagnetic Induction, Electromagnets, and Electromagnet Spectrum.  

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Have students brainstorm objects they know that are magnetic. Jot them on the board. If no one mentions it, add compass to the list. Then ask the class what they think makes something magnetic. Write down those ideas, too. Ask students what a compass is and how it works (a tool with a magnet inside that points to Earth’s magnetic North Pole).
  2. After everyone shares their ideas, play the BrainPOP movie Magnetism on the whiteboard or other display. Pause the movie as needed when Tim explains concepts including magnetic fields (00:29) and that magnets have a north and south pole (01:30). After the movie, review key terms including magnet, magnetic field, north and south poles, and compass.  
  3. Project the game Magnet Hunt on the whiteboard or other display. Tell students that in this game, they will search for buried magnets using tools from a toolbox including compasses, iron filings, and magnetic film as well as their knowledge of magnetism. Introduce the game by playing as a whole class. Click the “Playground” option and invite volunteers to come up and experiment with the tools. Prompt a volunteer to drag the magnet around the screen and ask the class what they observe happening to the iron filings. Have another volunteer place a few compasses in the game, and ask students to explain why needles are pointing in different directions depending on a compass’ location.
  4. ext, open “Game” mode and explain to students they will use the tools in their toolbox to help them find the buried magnet. Invite six volunteers to the whiteboard and have them each place a compass. Call on another volunteer to place the iron filings and one more to place the magnetic film.
  5. Divide the class into 4-5 groups. Distribute two sticky notes of the same color to each group, giving each group a different color. Instruct students write “S” for south on one sticky note and “N” for north on the other. Then have one representative from each group place their sticky notes on the whiteboard to show where they think the north and south poles of the buried magnet are located, and ask the group to explain their thinking.
  6. After every group has identified their locations, put in the guess made by the majority of groups by placing the N and S pins in the game. Then submit the guess.
  7. Facilitate a class discussion about strategies groups used and how this might apply to real life.
  8. If time allows, have students work independently or in pairs to explore the game.