Review: littleKids playing with littleBits

littleBits, Programs, Reviews

I’ve used littleBits with my middle school technology club to great effect. The simplicity of changing things up and flexibility of the multiple bits is really appealing. When I brought a kit home to show my own kids, ages 4 and almost 7, it was a different experience, but pretty rewarding! Here are some things you can do if you play with littleBits and littleKids.

Robot Basics:

  • What is it?

littleBits is a collection of modules, or “bits” that each has a specific function. There are power bits, switch bits, sound detecting bits, buzzers, lights, and many many others. The bits can be combined in numerous ways, and can be added to other projects for even more functionality.

    • What’s in the Box?

The kit I have is the 18 module Deluxe Kit. In addition to the modules, it includes a really lovely instruction booklet with clearly written, visually simple descriptions of the modules, and project ideas ranging from simple recipes to more complex endeavors.

  • How Much?

The kit retails for $199. Smaller kits are available for as little as $99. An educator discount is available.

  • Age Range?

littleBits suggests ages 8 and up. I think that under supervision, even younger kids can enjoy and learn from the kits.

  • How Did We Acquire it?

The kit was purchased with fund from the ILEAD USA grant.

Ideas for Use

Make connections: With the little ones, first we looked at all of the different pieces. I would look at the instructions and say, “Can you find a switch?” “Can you find one that says dimmer?” “What do you think the green ones do?” “Which one do you think gives it all power?” These explorations are helping them make connections from the world they know to the world in the box. A littleBits switch looks different than the switch on the wall or on a toy, but there is still and ON/OFF toggle that they can move back an forth. A switch is a switch – see?

Reading: My 7 year old could be called a reluctant reader, but given a purpose, she’s eager! Encouraging her to find the words on the bits let her use her growing phonics skills with the immediate reward of knowing one more piece of this puzzle.

Sorting and pattern recognition: We sorted the bits by color, then talked about how each color means a different set of functions. We looked at the simplest projects and noted how they all followed the same color pattern to do all kinds of different tasks.

Exploration and discovery: How can we make it light up? Why isn’t the buzzer buzzing? What can we do with the screwdriver? littleBits makes it so easy to switch gears, try things, fail, and keep going without breaking stride.

Time Involved

This is an activity that can take as little as five minutes or as much as an hour depending on your goal and your group.

One-time or Recurring Program

The flexibility and expandability allows lots of recurring program potential.

Extension Activities

Myriad. littleBits Education has lots of lesson plans to browse.

Skills You Need

None.

Other Tools You Need

Eventually you’ll need another 9v battery.

Good Stuff

see above!

Frustrations

More power sources would let more kids play at the same time. It’s a costly item to purchase, but I do think it would more than pay for itself in its repeatability and durability.

Ending Thoughts/Observations

Do it!

Overall Rating:

Full STEAM ahead.

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