Kids find electronics interesting. For them, nothing can be more interesting than tinkering around with circuits that light up, sounding sirens, and getting things to move remotely. The good news is that, unlike the previous generations of kids that had to be supervised by parents lest they get burned with a soldering gun, today’s generation now has modular electronic kits that teach them about electronics in a safe – and more fun – way.
Two of these modular electronics kits are Little Bits and Snap Circuits. But which one is better?
Contents (Jump to)
Snap Circuits from Elenco Electronics teaches your kids basic electronics. Young ones will only need to follow the instructions in the colorful manuals to create great projects.
Your kids are safe because they do not need to solder anything; they just snap together the parts that they need for the project. It is so easy that they do not even have to work with any tools.
There are several Snap Circuits kits available. The most affordable is the Snap Circuits Jr. Select, which includes more than 30 parts. This kit includes 133 projects.
For older kids or those who would be interested in more electronics projects, you can get the Snap Circuits Pro, which has more than 75 parts that can create more than 500 projects. Some of the projects your kids can build include FM radio, AC generator, digital voice recorder, among others.
Then you also have the Snap Circuits Extreme, which gives you more than 80 parts that can be used to complete at least 750 experiments.
Here are all the Snap Circuit kits available:
|Kit Name||Price||Parts included*||Experiments*|
|Snap Circuits Jr. Select||Check listed price here!||30||133|
|Snap Circuits Extreme 750 Experiments||Check listed price here!||80||750|
|Snap Circuits Deluxe Snap Rover||Check listed price here!||50|
|Snap Circuits Pro: Computer Interface||Check listed price here!||75||500|
|Snap Circuits Jr. 100 Experiments||Check listed price here!||30||100|
|Snap Circuits 300 Experiments||Check listed price here!||60||300|
|Snap Circuits Pro 500 Experiments||Check listed price here!||75||500|
*Minimum number of parts and experiments provided in the kit.
What you would like about Snap Circuits
Snap Circuits would surely allow your kids to learn more about electronics through the application. First, they would learn to create different projects. This very hands-on approach allows them to learn about the different parts and how these parts work together. In fact, most kids would graduate from just following the instructions in the colorful manual to experimenting on their own. For instance, they could try swapping out one part for another just to see if the circuit would still work. They would also be able to modify the projects on their own.
On top of all that, the project manual not just includes step-by-step instructions; it also includes an explanation of what each part is and its function. This kit is also a good way to encourage your kids to be creative. Because of the use of colors, each part is easily identifiable. If you are homeschooling your kids, or if you want to teach your kids something that may not be taught at school, then this is a good place to start.
What could be better
The number of projects might be a little bit exaggerated. Some of the projects are quite similar and would only need to change one component. For instance, one circuit would turn on the lights by clapping, while another project would sound an alarm by clapping. This is counted as two projects even if you only need to change the output. For some kids, a parent or an adult might need to be present to explain things as they go along. The manual does not really explain or describe what a particular part would do for the circuit when you add it.
Little Bits offers kits that also teach your kids about electronics and circuits. Each kit has color-coded modules that you can connect together using magnets. The color-coded modules are called bits. Control devices such as sensors and buttons are colored pink, while green modules are output devices such as motors and lights. The orange modules are splitters and wires. Meanwhile, the power sources are colored blue.
One of the things that you would appreciate about Little Bits is the wide variety of kits it offers. There are two main kits available, the Gizmos and Gadgets Kit 1st and 2nd editions. The first edition kit gives you more than 28 different kinds of components that you can use to make nine different inventions. The second edition kit, on the other hand, has 13 bits and close to five dozen accessories that you can use to create 16 inventions. Some of the projects you can make include a remote control bot car, a box that opens by command, a rotolamp, and an art spinner.
Aside from these, you also have themed kits. One is the Droid Inventor Kit that has everything you need to create your own R2D2…well, sort of. The kit allows you to create the Droid and do all eight missions included in the guidebook such as driving the robot with just a wave of your hands, allowing it to detect obstacles so that it could avoid bumping into things, and even create a droid out of milk cartons. There are more than 16 other missions available on the mobile app.
For music lovers, you can get the Synth Kit allows you to create musical instruments. Meanwhile, the Rule Your Room kit has inventions that use ordinary objects you could find in your own bedroom. You can use these objects to make something cool, such as an electronic device out of books, a buzzer that acts like a burglar alarm, and a safe made of cardboard boxes.
For older kids, or for more serious fun, you can get the Smart Home Kit. This will help you convert any home appliance into a smart device. Using this kit, you can make a device that would allow you to control home appliances remotely, get an inventory of toilet paper, or get notified when your laundry is done. On top of all these kits, you can also get the Workshop Set, which has enough bits for 16 people. Or you can get the Pro Library, which has enough kits for 32 inventors.
Little Bits mobile app
You can download the Little Bits mobile app to get more invention ideas from other people. Once you learn how each bit works, copying inventions and coming up with your own would be a breeze. The mobile app also allows you to keep an inventory of the bits you already own. This way, you can get personalized recommendations on which inventions you can try to replicate. To make things more fun, the mobile app also gives you monthly challenges. If you win the challenge, you can earn a prize including some great bits, cool items, and even trips. Plus, if you have inventions that are cloud-enabled, you can use the mobile app to control them as well.
What you would like about Little Bits
What makes the Little Bits kits stand out is the use of magnets to help your kids easily connect one module to another. You no longer have to worry about your kids burning themselves with soldering irons; just align the modules together and let the magnets do their work. What’s more, this connecting mechanism also ensures that the modules are connected right. The magnets work with small tabs to ensure that each module is properly aligned. You also avoid getting the modules upside-down because the magnets would not hold.
What’s more, you can easily add more bits to your collection, allowing you to do more inventions without having to pay a lot for another kit. On top of the projects you can find on the guidebook, you can also go online and get more inventions to try out. Little Bits also has a mobile app where you can get more invention ideas as well. That means you get to build as many projects as you want.
Comparing Little Bits and Snap Circuits
Both the Little Bits and the Snap Circuits are fun educational toys that can help your kids discover, appreciate, and learn electronics. However, there are quite a few differences between these two that might make you choose one over the other. Snap Circuits comes from Elenco, which has been selling electronics for kids since the 1970s. If you have a penchant for old-school without having to use a soldering iron, then Snap Circuits is the way to go. Elenco includes documentation with their kits that tell them about each component, what it does, and how it works. However, the documentation, along with the assembly instructions, might be a bit too high-level. That said, if you have younger kids, you might want to be there when they put together a project or you might want to simplify the instructions. Snap Circuits work really well, but because you are working with a circuit and a baseboard, it can be quite limiting.
Little Bits, on the other hand, is far from being described as limiting. Unlike Snap Circuit’s baseboard and circuit design, Little Bits work more like Legos. This allows you to connect it to everyday objects such as empty cans, plastic bottles, shoe boxes, and others. Some of the inventions specifically call for ordinary household items. What’s more, you can add individual bits to your kit, rather than buy another kit just to be able to do more inventions.
However, what makes Little Bits even better is the community of other users. You can get more invention ideas as well as enter competitions, making electronics more fun and alive for your kids. What’s more, Little Bits is a better fit if you want to help develop their creativity. At the very least, the color-coded bits are not only more interesting for kids, but they are also more fun to work with. So, if you are able to work with both Little Bits and Snap Circuits, you will probably find Snap Circuits a bit boring compared to Little Bits.
Little Bits is also pricier than Snap Circuits. For one, you cannot test the waters without having to pay. With Snap Circuits, you only shell out a little for the basic kit with 10 components, just to see if your kid would be interested in it. Little Bits used to have a basic kit, but even when it was still available, it has a price.
Learning coding with Little Bits and Snap Circuits. For those who like to learn about programming, both Little Bits and Snap Circuits have kits for this, too. Little Bits has the Code Kit that gives you 16 bits and 30 accessories that you can assemble into fun games. You can then program these inventions using the Code Kit app. Or you can get the Little Bits Arduino Coding Kit, which introduces kids to Arduino coding. Meanwhile, Snap Circuits has its Snapino kit that teaches kids how to work with the Arduino coding environment.
For the younger kids
Before deciding on either Little Bits or Snap Circuits, you might want to check out Cubelets. Made by Modular Robotics, Cubelets are composed of two-inch cubes that you can snap together with magnets. These modular “robots” can be used to create projects that are easy enough for younger kids to understand. Cubelets is more for kids as young as three years old can, whereas Little Bits and Snap Circuits are ideal for kids around 7 or 8 years old.
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!