This is an excellent time to be a kid who is interested in electronics and circuits or a parent who wants to help get their kids interested. Partly thanks to Kickstarter campaigns and the DIY/Maker Electronics movement there are some fantastic toys, online videos, and books that can give even very young kids a chance to learn about how things work and are wired up that didn’t exist a few years ago in a safe and fun way.
In the past, kids didn’t start to learn about electric circuits until middle school age, but because of toys like Snap Circuits and littleBits, this is changing very quickly. To help parents who are looking for some super fun electronic resources, we have rounded up all the best stuff that can help kids learn about simple electronics and circuitry.
Websites to Help Kids Learn about Electronics and Circuits
Here are some of our favorite sites that can show beginners how to get some hands-on experience:
- Adafruit Industries is an excellent place for anyone to learn about electronics. There are videos, tutorials, forums, online question sessions, and kits you can buy to get started. It covers everything you need to know about DIY electronics. It is highly recommended.
- EEME is a neat idea for kids ages 7-12 who are interested in learning about electronics. Your kids get sent a kit with an electronic project they have to put together in it each month while also following an online video curriculum.
- SparkFun is another site that sells electronic kits that has an excellent tutorial section on their site.
- Make you probably already know about this site, but it is still worth mentioning since they have a very extensive video section. Make can be a little overwhelming because of the amount of info that is available. If you are looking for a simple project that is okay for kids, try this video.
Electric Circuit Toys, Tools and Kits for Kids
There are some fantastic toys available that can help get kids excited about electronics, circuitry, and electrical engineering. If you are just starting and are looking for something very basic, you can try the insanely popular Snap Circuits. They are kits that have snap-together parts allowing kids to build electrical projects in a comfortable and safe way. They have a lot of different types of kits with a huge range of prices. Another good beginner toy that could help kids get interested in circuits is Roominate. Roominate is a dollhouse that lets kids experiment with wiring a room or a dollhouse.
Along the same lines as Snap Circuits, but slightly more complicated is littleBits. littleBits is an open-source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets; it is often described as LEGO but with electronics.
If you are looking for something more challenging than the snap together type kits, you could try either the Elenco 130-in-1 Electronic Playground and Learning Center or the Electronic Playground 50-in-one, which are electronic learning kits. These are made by the same company that makes Snap Circuits.
The next step beyond the electronic learning kits would be the Arduino. The Arduino is a small circuit board that, combined with some software, can make electronics projects interactive. If you want to learn a bit about what the Arduino is all about, have a look at this video that gives a perfect introduction to the Arduino and what you can do with it. Arduino Sets are big with the maker movement, and so there are lots of different types of sets around available from places like Makershed.
Circuits and Electricity Videos for Kids
There are plenty of videos for beginner electronics and circuitry for kids or students that are available on YouTube. If you are looking for something a little different, you can try Adafruit’s Circuit Playground webisodes that explain circuit breakers, electrical currents, and amperes in episode 1 A is for Ampere and how batteries make electricity and how to make a lemon battery in episode 2 B is for Battery.
Another online show that is neat for kids is Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show. This is an enjoyable web show that features the multi-talented Sylvia, who shows kids how to do maker projects at home, some of which involve circuitry and adding electrical elements.
There are a few free fun online games for kids who are learning about electricity and circuits you can find a simple game here or check out Woodland Resources who have an extensive list of electricity and circuit games and activities.
There are lots of fun books that go step by step through experiments having to do with electricity and circuits. A few to look out for are:
- Experiments with Electricity by go over what electricity is, how to build an electric circuit, what are conductors and insulators, how to build a switch, and also how to make a magnet.
- Young Discoverers: Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires by David Glover have lots of experiments or projects ranging from building a primary battery-connected circuit to a do-it-yourself burglar alarm, that will help kids learn about the principles of electricity.
- Safe and Simple Electrical Experiments by Rudolf F. Graf has more than 100 projects and experiments that are a fast and reliable way of learning basic principles of electricity with a focus on static electricity, magnetism, and current electricity and electromagnetism. No unique or expensive materials are required, and this book has detailed instructions and illustrations.
Another option to help kids learn about electronics and circuitry is to have them read a fictional book with an exciting storyline. A couple of books to check out are:
- Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith is a very cool book that has two children, fictional characters who love science and electronics. In the book, they have adventures where they build 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, and mobile tracking devices. The neat part of the book is that it has instructions and blueprints for five different projects that the characters in the book do.
- Arduino Adventures: Escape from Gemini Station (for ages 8+) by James Floyd Kelly and Harold Timmis is a fun introduction to the Arduino microcontroller. Using fictional storylines, kids can learn how to install and configure Arduino’s programming language and learn about LEDs, Resisters, and other essential components as well as build and test electronic circuits involving breadboarding and basic wiring.
If you have any great resources to help kids learn about simple electronics and circuitry please let us know in the comment
Read More: Fun Ways to Teach Kids Programming
photo credit: littleBitsElectronics via photopin