DIY Levitating Santa Sleigh

The ultimate Santa sleigh and reindeer decoration.

Christmas is about quality time together (well, at least that's what I go for every year. We love to decorate our house for Christmas every year. The girls make tons of DIY LED Ornaments to brighten our tree, and often we have an advent calendar full of little electronic components. 

This year I wanted to make some fun santa crafts that didn't involve any circuits - although they are already talking about adding headlights to their Santa sleigh craft, so they might get wired up after all. 

This levitating Santa sleigh seems so magical because of...wait for it...SCIENCE! Kids will love playing with these magnets, and it drives home the concept that magnets have two poles: north and south. Best of all, you only need a few ingredients for this fun santa sleigh, most of which you likely have at home, or can find at the dollar store. 

how to make a leivtating santa sleigh as a christmas science experiment

Project Ingredients:
5x Ring magnets with 1/4in (7mm)  hole
1/4in (7mm) wood dowel (you can also get these at the dollar store)
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Recycled dairy lid, CD, or similar for the base
Recycled cardbard
Craft decorations

How to make a levitating Santa sleigh and reindeer

  1. Stack 4 of your ring magnets together
  2. Glue your ring magnets to the base
  3. Fill the hole with hot glue and put your wood dowel inside
  4. Place one ring magnet on the dowl so it repels the other four
  5. Make your Santa sleigh and glue to the top, levitating magnet
make a santa sleigh and reindeer levitate with science - santa crafts for kids

Decorating your levitating Santa sleigh

You can decorate your Santa sleigh however you desire, I’ve outlined some ideas below to get your brain warmed up.

Cover your magnets with ‘snow’

You can create an amazing scene on your base with a little imagination and a few materials. You can create a mountain of fake snow to cover your base and make it more festive. I used white gauze to wrap around our base, but you could also use toilet paper, cotton balls, etc. Once you have a snowy base, what other decorations could you add? I see snowmen, reindeer, trees, presents, etc in our future – especially because the dollar store has great deals on those tiny fake presents!

Cut your wood dowel to length

Your levitating Santa sleigh will seem all the more magical if you cut the wood dowel to where it can’t be seen. You might need to add a second hole for the dowel to pass through on your Santa sleigh if you want it to levitate in a certain position, otherwise, gravity will cause it to flop. You can decorate your wood dowel, or leave it be, up to you!

Paint your Santa sleigh

We used an old granola box to cut a sleigh out of. That means at the moment, it is pretty lackluster. It definitely needs some little hands to add on glitter glue, pipe cleaners, fuzz, pom poms, and anything else they find lovely. As long as your decorations are not too heavy, your sleigh will still magically levitate.

Why does your Santa sleigh levitate?

Magnets have two poles, a north, and a south pole. When we stack magnets together we stack them north to south to north to south. This is the way magnets want to be near each other. When we flip the top magnet to make the pattern south to south (or north to north) they will repel from each other. 

Magnets all have invisible magnetic field lines emanating from them. These lines make a loop from north to south. When we stack two magnets the lines can go from the north of one to the south of the other, like a big arrow. However, if we try to stack magnets north to north we have two arrows pointing towards each other and repelling. You can see magnetic field lines from two magnets below. You can also see the field lines in action with our magnetic field line slime!

Why do I need the wood dowel?

Magnets are slippery little guys. When they attract they snap into place, but when they repel they wobble this way and that. Magnets will naturally find the easiest way to get apart from each other. That means stacking two repelling magnets on top of each other is similar to trying to stack two bowling balls on top of each other. One every so slight change this way or that and it all topples. Even a brush of wind could break it all down. 

The wood dowel provides stability between the two repelling magnets. It forces them to be in a line and continue to repel instead of finding a lower energy state, like when they are both on the ground or snapped together north to south.

You could stabilize your Santa sleigh with other methods, and that could be another science experiment for your kids to look into. For example, can you figure out a way to secure the magnets in place using floss tie downs? How many would you need? Is this method better or worse than the dowel?

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