Easy Magnetic Matching Activity for Preschoolers

Hey, friends. Here’s one of my go-to activities that we use with almost every unit study for our preschoolers. It’s so easy to set up and the pay off is hours (yes!) of kids playing and learning independently!


• Metal cookie sheet (this one was $1 at Walmart)

• Printable — print 2 copies (Pictured here is my Autumn Leaves poster)

• Laminator (optional, but it will help your homemade magnets last longer)

• Cardstock

• Magnetic tape

• Scissors


Print two copies of whatever printable you will use. I prefer to use poster-style printables for this activity, but honestly you could get creative and use just about anything. I’ve also done this activity with alphabet letters.

Laminate both sheets (if opting for this step, which I do recommend). Cut out all the pieces of one sheet — in this example, I cut out all the leaves individually.

Cut small pieces of magnetic tape, and apply one piece to the back of each leaf. You can also put one or two small magnet pieces on the back of the poster, but this is up to you (and how excitable your kids may become!).

Place the poster on the cookie sheet, and arrange the pieces on the sheet but not all where they belong. Now that my kids are familiar with this activity, I usually place one leaf on its poster counterpart. I stick the remaining leaves around the rim of the cookie sheet.

Share it with your kids, demonstrating how to find a match. I like to ask my kids questions to get their curiosity moving:

“What do you see?”

“What colors are the leaves?”

“Can you find a yellow leaf?”

“Where is the matching yellow leaf? Which two yellow leaves are the same?”

“Are these two leaves the same or different?”

And so on…

I also frequently set this activity out and let the kids free play with it. The beauty of the magnets is that it can be played with over and over — and while they can match items, it’s not strictly necessary.

I often find my kids lining items up, categorizing items, creating imaginary play, or, well, moving all the magnets to the fridge 😂

So that’s it! Easy, fun, and affordable. I’ve been making these magnetic trays since early this year plus a lot of other magnetic items … and we’re still only half way through our roll of magnetic tape.

I’d love to see how you incorporate this activity or some version of it in your home! Please tag me @greenurbanmama or use the hashtag #learningartfully so we can all see and share your brilliance!

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