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As I mentioned in my Guide to Finding a STEM Based Science Camp, my daughter Leila has gotten really into science lately. Of course, my husband and I are thrilled by that, especially him since he’s the science guy in the family. I’ve just been trying to make sure I continue to nurture her love for science and introduce some quality STEM learning tools and toys. I’m so happy there’s been such a focus on this as well, which makes finding these toys much easier.
With that said, I was really fortunate back at the Type-A Conference earlier this year to have won my very own LittleBits Premium Kit in a raffle! If you’re unfamiliar with LittleBits electronic kits for kids, they have a variety of invention kits that allow kids (or adults) to create inventions with easy to use, electronic building blocks. In the Little Bits Premium Kit, each of the building blocks snap together with magnets and together, they create instant circuits. The pieces are color coded and grouped into 4 different categories:
- Power (needed to start any invention)
- Input – the pieces that send signals to the modules based on your input
- Output – the modules that actually do something (light up, move, buzz, etc.)
- Wires – these help expand the reach of the project (helps change direction, make it extend further, etc.)
The LittleBits Premium kit is designed for ages 8+, but I had Leila in mind to try it out although she’s only 7. I promised I would return home, give Leila some time to play with it and figure it out and then share my LittleBits Review with you guys, so here we go.
Watching my daughter literally expand her brain to create new inventions was the best thing ever! After a brief introduction to the products and what each piece is responsible for/capable of, it was as though I could see her wheels turning. And mine as well! Confession – I’ve always sort of sucked at science -except for maybe chemistry- but I seriously wonder if I would have had more of an interest had I had learning tools like this. It’s a gender neutral toy – deliberately – and truly made for everyone, regardless of language, technical ability, experience, etc..
The kit comes with quite a few starter invention experiments and simple instructions to get you warmed up. With most of these inventions, you’ll only need to add a few small items found around the house to complete them, but then you end up with a really cool invention. Some of the inventions include an Intruder Alert Security System, Back Massager, Hypnotizing wheel, and quite a few more that vary in difficulty levels.
One of our favorite inventions we created was the automatic bubble flute that allowed you to blow bubbles with the sound of your voice. Outside of the LittleBits kit which included a little fan, we only needed simple supplies like a plastic cup, bubble solution, duct tape, rubber bands and ruler. There was a little cutting I had to help her with, but other than that, she was able to put it together all by herself. You can see it below.
The coolest part of it is that after we created this one, Leila figured out that she could switch out the modules a little and altered it so that instead of blowing to make the bubbles blow, she could use the module where you can instead press a pressure sensor to yield the same result. She was really thinking! She has since come up with a few different inventions and has taken a few to school to show them off to her friends.
No lie, there are A LOT of parts. Like, a lot of little obscure parts.…and it’s not the sort of toy where losing one or 2 won’t matter, as each of the parts can play a vital role in any invention. I was really nervous when I first opened the box, thinking of all of the possible places I would eventually end up stepping on the pieces. (remember, I also have a 4 year old). Surprisingly, though, Leila has been great with keeping all of the pieces in tact, even if it sometimes calls for her bossing her sister around to put them back in the box. That says a lot that she’s taking this so seriously.
It may seem quite a bit overwhelming at first. Some of the language is a bit technical and let’s face it, building a circuit is no small task. Leila is 7 years old and had never really been introduced to these types of building toys before, so I feared that it would be a little too difficult for her. However, she pretty quickly proved me wrong. I would not recommend it for children much younger than that, however.
Lastly, as I said earlier, while most of these inventions are simple enough for kids to put together, some might require the use of a box cutter or knife or something that will require a little bit of parental assistance.
The Real Deal:
I really love the LittleBits Invention Kit and I’m happy to have it as one of the tools we use to foster STEM learning in my household. While, Leila is the primary user of the kit, my 4 year old Samara has also really gotten into it and enjoys seeing the inventions come to fruition. She’s even been able to put some simple inventions together herself, although I don’t know if she really understands the mechanics yet.
LittleBits actually has several Invention Kits to choose from that are for a range of different ages, including:
- Gizmos and Gadgets Kit – for younger inventors
- Smart Home Kit – connects to the internet and is for DIYers and older kids
- Synth Kit – invent music and musical instruments
- Arduino Coding Kit – perfect for novices that aren’t familiar with programming
- And several more…
Their newest kit is a STEAM Student Learning Kit, which is actually for teachers in individual classrooms and can also be used by homeschooling parents.