Of all the science projects I do, one type is always coming out on top when it comes to enthusiasm and fun.
Seriously. Every time I break out the circuit box there are suddenly a ton of little hands trying to reach in and pull anything at all out. I love their enthusiasm. At times it makes me want to pull my hair out because I might have 5 or 10 kids in a class or hanging out at our house and they all want everything. Right. Now. It can be seriously overwhelming.
I think part of the enthusiasm is making something real with their small LED lights. It has so much more bam that vinegar and baking soda. Those chemistry projects are awesome, don't get me wrong, but I think the challenge of making a craft that also lights up is huge in kids eyes.
When they are with me, their projects often don't work the first time around, they have to troubleshoot them. This means that they get the joy of solving a puzzle and fixing a problem. It seems they get totally hooked on it. They also get to make the circuits with their hands. Since we use copper tape and CR2032 batteries with our small LED lights there is no need for soldering, breadboard arranging, or anything else of the like.
Projects that integrate small LED lights are also projects that combine art and science. If you have been checking out our blog, you'll notice that I am a huge advocate of blending art and science together. I believe kids learn the best when they have their hands on a project, and they are making that project uniquely theirs. That means art. I also believe kids should learn real science as they do this (because real science can also be fun science). Simple circuits utilizing small LED lights fit the bill so well.
You can create holiday ornaments, playdough sculptures that have light up eyes, paper airplanes that zoom through the night, light sabers to battle with...really, once you have a handle on incorporating small LED lights into your daily art and engineering projects a whole new world of fun is opened up. A world that has eager hands grasping in bags and begging to take home a handful of those small LED lights or pocket some extra batteries. And can you blame them? The final creations are nothing short of enchanting.
Ready to get started creating art projects with small LED lights? Below are some linked products that will get you started. These are the same products we use with our own family, and in the classroom, so they are tried and true. If you are looking for a great gift, you can bundle the list and package it into a nice box for carrying! The nice thing about the list below is you don't have to get everything, just the little pieces you need, saving you some hard earned money.
Batteries (Yes, we buy ours by the 100. you can search for fewer, but you'll go through them)
Coper tape (This acts as easy to use and connect wires)
Conductive paint (or make your own using glue and graphite)
LED lights (I like this one since it has an organizing box)
Rainbow flashing LEDs (This adds awesome movement to your creations)
Color mixing LEDs (You can wire them to be red, green, blue, or a mix)
Playdough LEDs (The larger size is nice for preschool hands)
9V Battery hats (for playdough circuits only)
What cool inventions are you creating with small LED lights? Show us in the comments!