Christmas STEAM: Magnetic Jingle Bell Tree

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Can you add jingle bells to a paper plate  Christmas tree, without using glue? Fun physics challenge for kids.

Magnetic jingle bell tree - Christmas science fun for kids

Suitable for

I’d suggest this activity for preschoolers or kindergarteners. Bumble Bee was 4 years old when we did this.

Don’t you just love it when one activity spins into another? That’s what happened with our jingle bell tree.

It all started while we were making our Christmas tree magnet maze. My first thought was that we could use a metal jingle bell to trace the magnet maze instead of a metallic ball. Because, you know, jingle bells make everything more awesome.

Meanwhile Bumble Bee had started drawing her own paper plate Christmas tree, and was really focused on colouring it in neatly. (Personally I don’t mind if she colours outside the lines, but I was impressed by her self-motivated focus and effort – traits I like to encourage.)

Drawing a Christmas Tree

With all that neat colouring, she’d neglected to leave any white space for baubles, and I knew if she tried to draw any later, they would appear dull and dark because of the yellow marker underneath. I was concerned she’d feel disappointed, especially considering how hard she’d tried, so I privately brainstormed alternatives. Perhaps she could draw ornaments on another piece of paper, cut them out and glue them on?

And then I thought, “Woah – wouldn’t these metal jingle bells look great as ‘hanging’ ornaments!”

So, when she’d finished colouring, I asked “What do you think about decorating your tree with jingle bells for baubles? Can you think of a way you could make them stick, without using glue?”

Apparently she could. πŸ™‚Adding bells to the tree

Magnetic Jingle Bell Tree

Similar to our magnet mazes, this activity encourages kids to think about the physics of magnetic force, and in particular, of magnetic force through an object.

Here’s how Bumble Bee’s jingle bell tree turned out!

Christmas magnet science for kids - make a jingle bell tree

And here’s the back, revealing all her magnet secrets!

Magnetic force holding the bells onto the christmas tree

Bumble Bee used some of our Geomag magnetic rods (aff link*). But other similar large magnets would also work as well.

Related: You can see our previous reviews of Geomag sets here and here.

Please note…

I recommend using a large-sized magnet. The ones we used here are a few inches long, and not easily swallowed. Smaller magnets that could potentially be swallowed are particularly dangerous if swallowed concurrently with other magnets, or items attracted to magnets (like jingle bells), as they could attract each other inside the gut and cause serious injuries. You know your child. Use your best judgement, and please supervise at all times.

Magnetic force holding the bells onto the christmas tree

Fun Science

Gravity is an invisible force. It pulls objects towards the earth. You can see the affect it has on objects. Normally if you place a little jingle bell on a paper plate, and tip the paper plate up, the bell will roll off the side of the plate and onto the floor.

A magnet is something that produces another invisible force, called magnetic force. You can see the push or pull affect it has on objects. If you bring a metal object, like a bell, near a magnet, the magnetic force attracts the bell and makes it move towards the magnet.

Magnetic force works through some objects, like paper plates. If you have a bell on a paper plate, and a magnet on the other side, and you tip the paper plate up, the bell has two forces working on it: gravity, which is trying to make the bell fall to the floor, and magnetic force, which is trying to attract the bell to the magnet. If the magnetic force is greater than the gravitational force, the bell won’t fall.

Because of the artistic element of kids being able to design and decorate their Christmas tree any way they like, I’m going to call this a STEAM (or STEM + Art) activity. You can read more about STEAM activities here.

Check out our physics page for more physics fun, including:

We also have lots more Christmas science ideas, including:

If you’re on Pinterest, check out our Christmas Science Projects for Kids board.

While you’re there, you might also like to follow our main Go Science Kids board, and our Fun Science for Kids and STEM for Girls boards too. We’re always pinning awesome science stuff!

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox. We’d love to have you join us!

* This post contains affiliate link(s). An affiliate link means I may earn a referral fee or commission if you make a purchase through my link, without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep this little project afloat. Thank you for your support. Please note: I was not obligated to write this post or mention any particular product. All opinions are my, or my kids’ own.

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  1. Renee

    This looks like a lot of fun & there is so much to learn. my kids would love this.

  2. Kelly

    So simple yet clever.

  3. Lucy

    You are amazing with you girls, making everything so interesting for them to take in.

  4. kate @ livinglovinglaughing

    oh this is so clever!! what a fun idea πŸ™‚

  5. Kelly

    What a great idea to use magnets like this! Great fun

  6. Nichole {youclevermonkey}

    We love painting with magnets like this but I love the Christmas take on this!

  7. Kate @ the craft train

    Cool! Her yellow tree turned out great πŸ™‚


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