Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Little Bits and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Playing with electronics has been a popular pastime in our family for about three years now.
It all started when my in-laws gave Jonathan a snap circuit set for his 8th birthday. He subsequently spent many happy hours consumed in thought, tongue sticking slightly out in concentration, as he experimented with different circuit combinations.
His enthusiasm spread to my daughter Trishna, who began to ask for a circuit set of her own the following year. At age twelve, she still plays with these on an almost-daily basis. She even took them on our trip to England earlier this summer, used them to build an AM radio and began listening to the BBC.
All of the above explains why I jumped at the chance for our family to review a new style of electronics set created by littleBits Electronics.
The main difference between these and snap circuits is that they are much more versatile, allowing more in-depth–and even practical–inventions to come from a child’s (or adult’s!) imagination.
I read a quote from a parent who referred to littleBits as “the electronics equivalent of Lego,” and that’s a brilliant way to describe these magnetic building blocks.
About littleBits Electronics:
If you’re like me, you enjoy knowing about the companies behind the educational products you purchase for your family.
So here’s a short description about littleBits, in their own words:
“At littleBits, we are on a mission to democratize hardware by empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small, with our platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks.
Bits snap together with magnets to create circuits instantly. Our kits come with individual Bits and detailed, step-by-step instructions for building your very first inventions. The littleBits system is modular so every bit works with every other bit in the library.”
LittleBits has been featured and raved about by TED, CNN, the BBC, and in the New York Times.
The set of littleBits we received to review arrived the week Jonathan turned eleven, so we wrapped it up as one of his birthday gifts. The first thing that struck me after opening the box was how easy it was to get started using them, thanks to the “30 second quick start” that came with the enclosed manual.
It’s true that the “bits” themselves are somewhat delicate, which is why they’re recommended for ages eight and up. Even then, you’ll need to consider your child’s personality to decide whether they could treat these with the care needed to keep them in working order.
I appreciate that the circuit pieces fit together magnetically, making it impossible to combine them incorrectly. At first Jonathan stuck to the suggested projects that were included in his kit’s manual. But it didn’t take long until he was off, coming up with his own ideas.
Some of his creations include a waving hand (above), a drawer alarm to protect his most valuable treasures, and a robotic face. I’ll let him tell you about his favorite invention thus far:
An 11-year-old’s review of littleBits, by Jonathan Martin
“With snap circuits the parts can’t really move around, but with littleBits they can. I like the magnetic system since you can’t put the bits together in a wrong way.
The best thing I’ve made so far is a vacuum. Look below for a picture of it. I used a small cardboard box and a fan inside it to suck up small debris that is on the floor or counter.
On a scale of 1-10, I’d rate littleBits as a 9.5.”
LittleBits are far from just a fun kids’ toy. Thanks to this entire range of suggested lesson plans, you can use them as a key component of your homeschool.
Add to your collection of Bits over time, and you can even use them to: get started with programming, feed your pets, turn your lights on and off with a clap, send you a text when someone’s at the door, adjust your thermostat, and thousands more possibilities!
Enjoy the discoveries…and let me know what inventions you and yours come up with!
Young children seem to be some of the world’s best inventors. What’s something your kids have created that they’re especially proud of?
Please help! LittleBits says the coupon code doesn’t exist 🙁
Just saw the update; I’ll stay tuned.
Good news, Noelle. The code has been fixed and works now! So just head back to your cart and enter it again… Thanks for your patience!
It worked! Thanks for following up!
Oh, I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, but haven’t taken the time to look into electronics stuff. Thank you for posting this! I know what my kids are getting for Christmas!
Katie Laws’s latest post: For New Moms: Extracurricular and Homeschooling–What to do With Siblings
Great, Katie! So glad it’s helpful – and yes, definitely a fabulous Christmas present idea!
Thanks for sharing this with us. Little Bits looks like so much fun. After Snap Circuits, we didn’t know where to go to satisfy our ds’s electronics passion, and Little Bits may have fit in well.
However, my ds discovered Arduino and SparkFun Electronics earlier this year. Since then, he has been programming, building, occasionally drawing schematics using Eagle software, and testing all sorts of electronics projects.
Interest-led learning at its best!
My son is also really interested in electronics and wants to learn to build robots and I have been at a bit of a loss as how to help him (I know nothing about this stuff!) These kits look like something he would love.