Electronics, technology, design, and engineering might not sound like child’s play, but kids would greatly benefit from these concepts if they understand and know how to apply them early on.
However, the thought of electric shocks and kids wielding a hot soldering iron is enough to discourage parents.
The good news is that there is now a way for children to learn about electronics, technology, and engineering in a way that is safe and kid-friendly: LittleBits. LittleBits makes STEM and electronics literally child’s play.
Contents (Jump to)
If you are new to electronics, it would be difficult for you to know what the components are and which particular ones to use for which particular purpose.
You would probably have a difficult time trying to decide which LittleBits to buy for your kids. Fortunately, LittleBits offers starter kits to make things easier for everyone.
Droid Inventor Kit
The Droid Inventor Kit costs $100 Droid Inventor Kit (For the latest prices check here) and contains everything the kids will need to create their own droid. With the kit, they get six different bits, as well as different droid parts.
The kit also includes customizable stickers to make the droid truly your kids’ own. All they need to do is to assemble everything and start playing with their droid. They can:
- Explore 20 different sounds that were recorded from Star Wars movies.
- Use different controllers to control the droid.
- Complete more than 16 missions via the Droid Inventor app.
The Droid Inventor Kit inspires your kids to be more creative in several ways. For one, the customizable stickers allow your kids to easily personalize their robots. They can even use their own stickers and craft materials to decorate their droid.
The parts are all reusable and can be rearranged in such a way that a new droid is created every time. And, of course, you can buy more LittleBits for the young ones to add to their droids.
This kit is ideal for kids aged 8 through 12 years old. It specifically includes:
- Control hub
- DC motor
- Proximity sensor
- Servo motor
- 20 droid parts
- 3 wheels
- 3 sticker sheets
- 1 Battery and cable
Gizmos & Gadgets Kit, 2nd Edition
Costing $200 Gizmos & Gadgets Kit (For the latest prices check here), the second edition of the Gizmos & Gadgets Kit allows your kids to follow detailed instructions in the 60-page guidebook to create 16 inventions, including BubbleBot, SpinMate, and RotoLamp.
If these 16 projects are not enough, your kids can get thousands more through the mobile app or online.
The kit includes 13 bits and close to five dozen accessories. This is the first Bluetooth-enabled kit offered by the company, and kids can make their inventions interactive by connecting it with their smartphone’s camera and touch-screen display.
And while it teaches the kids STEM and STEAM learning, it is not boring!
This kit has been named by Time Magazine as one of the Best Tech Gifts and has been received mentions and awards from various sources, including Engadget, PopSugar, and Tom’s Guide. It is perfect for kids 8 years old and up.
The Synth Kit is another LittleBits product that allows your kids – and even professional musicians! – to enjoy creating their own instruments. Let your kids create music with two featured inventions: a keytar guitar and a synth spin table.
The kit comes with 12 Bits and a 34-page guide, and it is ideal for kids aged 8 and above. With this kit, kids can learn about science, electronic synthesizers, and electronics all at the same time.
The instruments that they can create are good enough that even professional DJs can use it. What’s more, you can create more inventions when you buy more Bits and download instructions online or via the app.
The kit was designed in cooperation with KORG and has been used by Mark Ronson, Reggie Watts, and other DJs. It costs $160 (For the latest prices check here).
Rule Your Room Kit
The Rule Your Room Kit is an award-winning kit that gives your kids eight inventions that they could create to make their rooms fun and protected from trespassers.
These include creepy eyeballs that glow in the dark, a moving collage that can dance when prompted, a burglar buzzer, and a domain defender that will ward off possible intruders.
In addition to the eight inventions outlined in the 76-page guidebook, there are more suggested projects kids can get from the app or online. The kit comes with seven Bits and 19 accessories.
What’s more, the kit can be combined with your kid’s own toys and they can make Legos come alive, turn books into an electronic device, or make a lampshade into a touchpad.
The Rule Your Room Kit sells for $99.95 (For the latest prices check here) and is perfect for kids 8 years and older. The kit has been cited by several gift guides and awards.
Educational and advanced kits
On top of the starter kits, there are also educational kits available for use in classroom instruction. These educational kits are:
- Code Kit. This teaches students the basics of coding and allows them to create inventions that they can program.
- Steam Student Set. This teaches students engineering and design concepts.
LittleBits offers advanced kits, too. These kits are geared towards older kids and adults. These include:
- Hardware Development Kit. With this kit, you can create a working prototype of your dream devices. Hardware professionals will find great use for this kit.
- Smart Home Kit. This kit gives you inventions that you can control over the Internet. It helps you gain control over your home and the appliances you have. The kit has inventions that will tell you if the refrigerator door has been left open, lets you turn your coffee maker on or off, or alerts you when your laundry is done, among other things.
There are also Big Kits, which have enough Bits for a large group of people. There’s the Workshop Set, which gives you enough Bits for 16 people and the Pro Library for groups of 32 inventors.
The different LittleBits
You can extend these kits by purchasing individual Bits. With this, you or your kids not only get to build the projects indicated on the kits, but you can also create new ones without having to spend on a new kit altogether.
There are several types of Little Bits. The first is a power bit, which provides power to your circuits. You can choose between a USB Power Bit, which you can use to connect a USB cable to provide power to your circuits, or a regular Power Bit, which you can use with a 9-volt battery.
Then you have the Input Bits, which include sensors and other components. These components act as the eyes and ears of your inventions. Some of the Input Bits include:
- Bend Sensors
- Light sensor
- Motion trigger
- MP3 Player
- Remote trigger
- Slide switch
- Sound trigger
You also have the Wire Bits. These are the components that help your kids do more with their inventions. For instance, some of the Wire Bits available are:
- Arduino – Allows you to do simple programming
- Bluetooth Low Energy – Allows you to connect your inventions with your Android or iOS device.
- Cloudbit – Allows you to connect your inventions to the Internet.
- Codebit – Gives you the chance to program your bits.
- Control voltage – Allows you to integrate your circuits to analog synthesizers.
- Makey Makey – Gives you a way to control your bits’ cursor.
- Logic gates such as NAND, NOR, OR, and Double AND
- Bright LED lights
- DC motor
- LED matrix
- Servo motor
- Synth speaker
- Vibration motor
What you would love about LittleBits
Electronics, engineering, coding, and design are not really easy concepts to teach kids, but with LittleBits, they will enjoy learning about these concepts. The inventions are fun, easy to do, and safe. There are no wires exposed, so there is no chance for kids to get jolted even when they are working with electricity.
LittleBits work like magnets, too, so kids would not have to use soldering irons. All they have to do is to hook one Bit to another.
Another plus factor with LittleBits is that your kids can easily create projects by following the guidebook or getting instructions on the mobile app. They can also get more invention ideas online.
The inventions can teach the user how each Bit works and what it is for. After that, they can create their own inventions. LittleBits is modular, so you can just add more Bits for more ambitious projects.
LittleBits also teaches your kids how to be creative, and uses everyday items around the house for some inventions. The Bits are very easy to use and are labeled, too, and each one is color-coded depending on its function. The Input Bits are pink, the Power Bits are Blue, and the Output Bits are green.
Another great thing about LittleBits is that they got every interest covered. For those who like games and pranks, there is a kit for them. For those who spend a lot of time in their rooms, there is also a kit for them.
For music lovers, there is the Synth Kit. And with Bits readily available, you can easily extend the starter kit. You can even use components from one kit and use it in another project.
However, the most important advantage of LittleBits is that it can go really advanced. If your kids get hooked on electronics and STEM with LittleBits, you can purchase Bits that allow them to learn coding and programming, get on the cloud, and other more advanced modules.
What can be improved
It is obvious that the manufacturer has put a lot of thought into LittleBits and the various kits. However, one thing that you would realize early on is that the Bits have to be properly aligned for it to work.
If you place it the wrong way or wrong side up, the entire invention would not work. This is not a very bad thing, as even little kids would know which side is up and be able to align the Bits perfectly.
Final Recommendation on Little Bits
There is no doubt that the LittleBits kits and Bits are great toys that can teach your kids to appreciate STEAM concepts and electronics while also keeping them safe. Your kids will not only learn about the Bits and what each one does, but they will also have the chance to create projects on their own.
But even if your kids are not that creative, they can still create thousands and thousands of projects when they download the mobile app or go online. If you are serious about getting your kids hooked on electronics, programming, and STEM, then the LittleBits kits are a good investment.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!