Prevent the mid-summer chorus of “I’m BORED!” We’ve all probably experienced the middle-of-July “what should I do with them TODAY?” question. Plan ahead and have a few of these projects ready to go when you find yourself with an open day. No pulling out your hair trying to come up with things to keep them occupied! I’ve rounded up some sites and ideas to get a few small, fun, educational DIY projects going so your kids can learn about electricity. Read on!
LEARN ABOUT ELECTRICITY: SAFETY FIRST
First, a word about safety. These ideas are geared toward older children – elementary school and up. Your toddler or preschooler is not ready for these! Before you begin, have a talk about electrical safety and what tools are necessary to prevent shock and fire. No owies, no burning anything down. IMPORTANT, right?
Next, make a list of the basic things you will need for most DIY electrical projects. We recommend the following:
- Soldering Iron – Amazon sells kits specifically for beginners. Check this one out from Elenco.
- Safety Glasses – those peepers need protection.
- Anti-static wrist strap – no zaps!
- Magnifying glass – a clip-on style magnifying glass helps keep your hands free.
- Multimeter – to test voltage and continuity. These aren’t as expensive as you may think.
Once you have all your basics assembled, start looking around for projects to do. I’ve gathered up a few sites with great instructions here:
- Instructables – A well-organized site with fun projects such as “ChapStick LED flashlight” and “A wire maze with electronics.” If you want to get really wild, try building a fruit clock. Yes, you read that right. You, too, can build a fruit clock.
- Adafruit – This site is seriously amazing. Who wouldn’t love an LED friendship bracelet? I think that brings friendship bracelets to a whole new level, don’t you? Adafruit also includes kid-friendly videos that discuss the basics of electricity and circuitry, such as “B is for Battery” and “A is for Ampere.”
- BuildCircuit – not as fun as Adafruit, but this site has projects geared more toward older kids. So, this might be helpful to get your middle schooler off the iPad and on to building something useful and cool with their own two hands.
- Sewell Direct Simple Machines – This site has a very comprehensive link library of the basics, such as, “What is electricity?” and “Simple machine activities.”
- If you want to go more in the direction of a kit, we recommend Snap Circuits. Snap Circuits are DIY electrical projects that come in kits with instructions, and all parts are included. Who wouldn’t want to learn to make their own doorbell?
WHAT WILL THEY LEARN?
So, why learn about electricity with DIY projects? Glad you asked! Besides some basic information about the way electricity works, your kids will learn to read a schematic or circuit diagram, electrical safety skills, some fine motor skills from working with and manipulating very small objects with their hands, and a host of other things! The bonus? You may learn something too.