This is a view of the littleBits Premium kit with the 2 trays of parts and activity booklet.
The developers of littleBits say, “littleBits are the easiest way to get started with electronics.” When the littleBits Premium Kit came in the mail, my girls were very curious to find out what was inside. My 7-year-old is totally hooked on Legos right now and so when I explained them to her, she was really excited! littleBits are tiny circuit-boards that snap together with magnets. They call the circuit-boards modules, and they each have a specific function that is printed on the top of the module. The reusable case and trays inside are very sturdy, and it makes it easy for children to transport them around the house or to take in the car. The Premium Kit contains:
- Battery and Cable
- Slide Dimmer
- Pressure Sensor
- Roller Switch
- Sound Trigger
- Vibration Motor
- Long LED x2
- Branch, Wire x2
- Servo Motor Accessories
- VibeSnap (Vibration Motor accessory)
- Activity Booklet
The really cool thing about this product is that there is no soldering, no wiring, no programming–just snap them together and create! We started out by reading through “the basics” section of the instructions so that my 7-year-old would have an understanding of all the parts. Then we started trying out a series of basic circuits just to get an idea of what the parts could do and how they worked together. Right from the start we all knew this was a really cool toy because kids can play with light, sound, sensing, and buttons in endless combinations! The activity booklet contains the following ideas: Hypnotizing Wheel, Cooling Campfire, Funny Face, Auto Greeter, Truck Crane, Drawer Alarm, Playful Pet, Box Monster, Bristle Bot, Bubble Flute, Animal Friend, and the Piggy Bank.
After playing around for a while, my daughter wanted to do the funny face project from the activity booklet with her dad. The finished activity was a smiling character with glowing eyes and a vibrating tongue. He was activated by touching the pressure sensor they put on the back of his ear.
Back and front view of the project. We used painters tape to hold everything together while protecting the modules from damage.
Our daughter has enjoyed playing with the littleBits during her quiet time and trying all sorts of circuit combinations. She has spent a lot of time telling me about the things she has created and all the things she wants to try, including working the circuits into her Lego creations. I asked her if she thought it was a good toy, and she said “Yes!” and that she thinks any kid would like to play with this and that they could have a lot of fun. She told me that the best thing about them is that they stick together with magnets so it’s easy to play with and move around. We decided to make a littleBits video review of her demonstrating the toy and what she thinks of how they work. From a parent’s perspective this product is great for fun, but also for learning. Since it’s an open source circuit system, with no soldering gun or wiring to figure out, and with magnets to prevent you from connecting them improperly, the kids are free to try any combination of modules with no fear. The other ideas in the activity book use things you can easily find around your house, and one idea leads to another–which is great for their creativity. If you go to the littleBits site, they show many more ideas that their team has created and ideas uploaded by other users. I also like that the power source is a 9V battery so there won’t be any special batteries to hunt down in the future. I think this toy would appeal to kids even if they aren’t usually into science type toys. I don’t see this as a toy that a child will play with every day for hours on end, but I do think it’s a toy they will return to often. My husband says that this takes what adult hobbyists have been doing for years with soldering guns, wires and components and brings it down to a child’s level. There were only a couple of negative things I found with the littleBits. The first was that the two wires connected to the little fan motor broke in less than a day of play. This surprised me because my 7-year-old girl is extremely careful with her toys, especially with toys like this. One wire broke loose while my daughter was using it and the other broke when my husband was looking at it to see why the fan no longer worked. He has a soldering gun so that he can reattach them, but it was a disappointment to our daughter who wanted to make things using the fan. The other negative was that the modules often separate inadvertently. The magnets, which make them easy to connect, unfortunately also make it easy to separate. This was mildly frustrating a few times. If the magnets were stronger or if there were a clip to secure them in place, that problem would be solved. The littleBits Premium Kit is an expensive toy ($149.99), and that does seem high for the amount of things you are getting, but because of the broad age appeal it may not be quite as bad as it seems at first impression. The age range of the kit is much higher than most toys and activities and will grow with your kids as they create more and more elaborate items. The suggested age is “8 to ∞”, but unlike most “8 and up” toys which generally only appeal to kids within a few years of the starting age, I think the littleBits kit would be of interest to any age child or adult who likes to tinker and build. And if we were honest and added up the amount of money spent on smaller toys over time, this could be a better long term toy investment. In summary, I think it’s a very interesting and different toy for children, and I have never seen anything like it before! I think the best part is that you can give the kids a basic explanation and let them get right to experimenting with it. It’s also something that will grow with the child and allow him or her to create all kinds of fun items.
You can purchase the Littlebits basic kit for $99.00, premium kit for $149.00, or the deluxe kit for $199.00. Edmund is graciously offering HHM readers an exclusive gift of FREE SHIPPING on your Little Bits purchase using the promotional code HHMSEE. Only one promotional code may be used with each order. Offer good through 11/9/2013. These promotions cannot be combined with any other offers.
One lucky reader will receive one Littlebits kit from Edmund Scientifics. Enter below. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: One HHM team member received the Littlebits kit to review in exchange for an honest review.