I can day: tin can magnetic play at the discovery table

In our outdoor classroom, we continued our “I Can Day” by adding tin cans and magnets to our discovery table…

In each jar behind the cans was a different kind of DIY magnet for the children to use with the tin cans…

At the discovery table, we generally do not give any instructions to the children as to what they are to do there. We simply let the children discover the items that are out then make their own plan for play or exploration of the items…

The children are very good at figuring out what to do with the materials at the discovery table all on their own…

In the process of their play, the children fiddled with the magnets to determine which magnets would stick where and which magnets would stick what to what…

On the first day of our magnetic and tin can discovery table, we had mostly independent or parallel play going on..

But by the end of the first day and on into the second day, the children began to play together. Also, on the first day the boys primarily played at the magnetic discovery table but on the second day, the table was taken over by the girls…

The children used the magnetic DIY toys as coins for a store and as parts of a robot…

If you would like to read more about how the magnetic pieces were made, then click here to read the details I provide on making your own magnetic play set

Available on Amazon


By |2012-09-06T01:00:02+00:00September 6th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. JDaniel4's Mom September 6, 2012 at 7:09 am - Reply

    I love that the children just explore and learn through discovery.

  2. bassentfisal September 6, 2012 at 7:10 am - Reply

    suitable foe which age ???

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      The children in my class are ages 3 to 5 and love the magnetic can discovery table. You will have to base your decision on whether or not this is an idea you can use based upon your knowledge of the abilities of your own students. If they are still putting all things in their mouths, then this is probably not a good idea unless you are there to keep a close eye on the magnets. I use a smooth edge can opener as well to open my cans so the cans will not have sharp edges.

  3. Anna September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Such a great way to explore magnets. My son loves learnt about magnets through his train set. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with this.

  4. Kimberly Thornton September 9, 2012 at 1:23 am - Reply

    I have started collecting tin cans and bottle cap lids for all kind of teaching and learning activities. Thanks for the ideas.

  5. Robin S. September 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I absolutely love this idea.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Gladys Dresner November 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    I am so excited and grateful to find your website. There are so many wonderful and fun ideas to try with my students. I teach state preschool and miss the creativity that our curriculum takes from us. I will be incorporating as many of these ideas as I can! I have two classes (with 24 students each) daily so I really like that these are not expensive to do. In fact I will probably be able to solicit items from the parents Thank you and keep the ideas coming.

  7. Maureen February 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    This is a fabulous activity. The set up is very attractive – I want to get in there and play. I will definitely be setting something like this for my families.
    Thank you

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok