Magnetic balls and rods seem old fashion today: they are not electric; they don't attach as firmly as Lego blocks; they won't chat with kids as an AI robot does.


For some people, magnetic toys are just colorful pieces of bores. However, Time Magazine gave magnetic toys the third rank in its Best Toys of 2021 list. It makes people wonder, why do kids still play magnetic balls and rods in 2022?


 kid with magnetic blocks


To figure this out, we need to learn what magnetic balls and rods are, how they are designed, and what they can do for children present-day.


What Are Magnetic Balls and Rods

In simple terms, magnetic balls and rods are a set of magnetic toys that can connect to each other. They often come in various forms: straight rods, curved rods, and balls. They are capable of composing different geometric shapes like cubes, spheres, and other polyhedrons.


magnetic balls and rods


With proper structuring, people can make really complicated shapes like pendants and UFOs. Moreover, thanks to the magnetic joints, a piece of magnetic work is enabled with a lot of movements: spin, swing, and even transform.


How Magnetic Rods and Balls Work

While the possible combinations are countless, the working philosophy of magnetic balls and rods is comparatively simple. The rods have magnets pieces at both ends. The attracting poles are so strong they can form a solid connection and into various forms like sticks and hooks.


how magnetic toys work


As for the magnetic balls, they connect to the rods with the iron balls that fit perfectly with the spherical dents at the ends of the rods. The balls serve as joints for complicated structures.


It is a classic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toy for kids. How can such a simple toy be the top choice of many schools and parents for STEM education tools in 2022?


Why Magnetic Balls and Rods Are Top STEM Toys in 2022?

As we describe above, magnetic balls and rods are not just a fun toy but also a handy tool for educators and parents in children's early STEM education.


The reason they are more than suitable for this purpose is that magnetic balls and rods involve a lot of scientific and geometric knowledge. This includes magnetism, structure, balance of weight, and spatial knowledge.


Learn magnetism with toys

Magnetism is the foundation of all magnetic toys. A magnetic rod has opposite poles installed inside both ends: the north pole and the south pole. Parents and educators can teach children about magnetic polarity by letting rods attract and repel each other.


magnetic balls and rods


They can also learn extensively about the magnetization process, magnetic fields, and the magnetic poles of the earth. Parents are also advised to tell them stories of the application of magnets in industry, life, and science research.


Develop structural thinking with toys

Magnetic balls and rods are a kind of magnetic blocks. They are designed to develop children's intelligence concerning structure and shapes.


Parents and educators can begin teaching children to play with magnetic balls and rods from simple 2D shapes like squares, triangles, letters, and numbers.


structural teaching with toys


When kids are familiar with simple structures, they can advance to more complicated ones like grids and stars. They can even evolve into 3D structures: combine facades into a building, or triangles into a mary-go-round.


It is not just a process of fun and entertainment. By making different 2D and 3D shapes with magnetic balls and rods, children can learn a lot of things. They can get knowledge of geometry before school. They become keen on observing the world around them. They can memorize numbers and the alphabet better.


Kids will also learn an important skill from playing magnetic balls and rods, that is, finding the balance of weight. This skill is required in the process of building a structure that won't fall, and a structure that will spin. The skill of balance is also vital for children when they learn to swim, skate, and ride a bicycle.


Acquire spatial knowledge with toys

The sense of space (including distance, relativity, and perspective) is a critical sense of children. It affects their eye-hand coordination, motion control, and almost everything they do in everyday life.




For example, parents can guide their kids to consider how many rods they need to put to make a facade, or how to arrange the magnetic balls to point in the correct direction.


More commonly, children can learn words and concepts of spatial relations like left, right, above, and below while playing with magnetic blocks. Remember how you learn those words? Probably through play too.


Even in 2022, kids still need purposely-designed, educator-proven tools to learn fundamental knowledge, sense, and skills for their early development. That is why magnetic balls and rods are still one of the top choices of many classrooms and families, and also highly recommended by Ealingkids to parents and teachers who are looking for safe and intuitive toys for children's early education.

January 27, 2022 — Gabriel Tanois