Light-up littleBits


Little Makers: littleBits

(January 2014)

Topics: Electricity, Magnets

Place: Fayetteville Free Library

Dates: Saturday, 1/11 from 10:30-11:3am; Tuesday, 1/14 from 5:30-6:30pm

Educational Content: We learned:

  • Vocabulary: magnetism, magnetic field, attract, repel
  • Electricity is a kind of energy that we can use to make things move, light up, heat up, or make sounds.
  • A source of electricity, such as a battery, provides electrical energy.
  • Magnetism is also a form of energy that can make metal objects, jump, spin, or stick.
  • Magnets can attract or stick to something, or repel it and push it away.
  • There is a positive and a negative side to each magnet. Positive and negative attract, but magnets repel when two positives or two negatives are near each other.

Books & Resources:

Questions to ask:

  • What is electricity?
  • What is a magnet? Can you think of some examples? (refrigerator magnets, magnet in a compass)


  • littleBits Kits (the number of kits depends on the size of your program. I used four kits, with two to four children per kit.)
  • Magnets
  • Paper clips


  1. I started off, as usual, by reading our first book Oscar and the Bird. Some of the children remembered this book from our previous Little Makers program on Electricity and Circuits and were excited to revisit the topic. I tried to reinforce this previous knowledge as much as possible throughout the program, while emphasizing the new content about magnets.
  2. Next we read parts of our second book, Magnets. With the non-fiction books, I tend to ask the children questions and let the text and images in the book inform and supplement my answers. Once the book had introduced us to the concept of magnetism, it was time to experiment.
  3. I gave each group of children a magnet (we got ours from taking apart some broken speakers in a previous program) and some paper clips. I encouraged them to pick up as many paper clips as possible! We discussed the strength of the magnetic field by experimenting with how close you have to hold the magnet to the paper clips before it will pick them up. I made sure each child got a turn to try.
  4. When we tired of the magnets, I collected the paper clips back and gave each table two littleBits kits. I started them off by asking them to find the battery (the power source for the circuit), the wire to connect the battery to the on switch. Then I let them play and discover!
  5. We made LED lights turn on, we adjusted their brightness with dimmer switches, we changed their color; we even set off an alarm and made a fan spin! It was great to watch them experiment and answer their own questions of “what does this do?”!