Luckily I had received some magnets in a care package a while ago-- thanks, Brandy! I've been saving them for this unit and they worked great. With the extra magnets I was able to set up four stations for the students to learn about magnets.
1) Magnetic vs Non-Magnetic Substances
2) North-South orientation in magnets
3) Attraction and repulsion between like and unlike poles
4) Effect of distance on magnetic force
I divided the class into 11 groups and brought them into the lab four groups at a time. The students in class had a homework assignment to work on while they were waiting. It ended up taking an extra period to get all the groups through, but they had an empty period today so it worked out perfectly.
One of my rules was that every student had to use the magnets before leaving the lab. I think this was the first time using magnets for many of the students. I helped them during the lab and they seemed to be getting the material. Plus they were having fun too!