The good simplicity of using LEDs to produce a spark of light inspired us to make these “cards”. This is an excellent “wiring 101” project because it introduces kids to circuit work and teaches them to connect one without unplugging, adding switches, or worrying about shock. Once they are ready to communicate, they can easily create tons of cards.
LEDs (You can remove the LED from a series of holiday lights or order a container for $ 4.95 on Electronic Goldmine)
Cord (We use 26-gauge florist wire) at any craft store or florist. You just need 18 ”
Paper Fastener (from office supply store)
3V battery (charge battery)
A cardstock sheet to roll into a card
Some colored paper, markers, glue, scissors, etc., card design
Age: 6+ for adult care and assistance.
Time: 30 minutes
When doing this project, it is important to follow the steps and check your region as you go.
- Plan and design your design with simple pencil strokes, before you start. Fold the cardstock in half to make a card. Sometimes, you will need to cut off a portion of the front of the card, so be sure to include this in your construction. We used cut-out paper to create the elements of our image; we build these first so that we can plan the building, and then set them aside.
- Organize your region. The paper fastener will need to be punctured at the front of the card, and the battery should be attached (negative side up) to the back of the card. When the card is closed, the paper attachment button should meet the surface of the battery (and negative). The LED should appear on the front when the card is turned off; the battery must be hidden.
- Once you have drawn the layout of your paper attachment, battery, and LED, draw a card. One cable should connect the paper strap to the LED cathode leg. The other cord should connect the LED anode leg to the positive side of the battery (the end of this wire will be inserted between the back of the card and the battery). To see the anode and cathode legs, look at your LED. The anode leg is slightly longer and the small flag at the top (inside the plastic ‘lamp’ section) is smaller. The cathode leg is short, and the small flag at the top is large.
- Now start tapping parts of your circuit in place. You can also use masking tape to make sure your wires do not fall off. Tip: Just attach the battery to the edges; do not cover everything otherwise, you will lose the connection between the battery and the paper connector. Also, you can bend the LED legs away from each other as this will make it easier to wrap the wire around.
- Once everything is down, check your cycle! Close card; when you go down to the paper strap (to touch the battery) does the LED light up? If it doesn’t light up, solve the problem. Make sure your connection is secure at each location, check to see if the wires are touching and that the positive side of the battery is pressing down firmly on the wire from the LED anode leg.
Now, complete your design! Draw or paste in the whole picture. You can close the wires with another piece of paper if you do not want them to be visible, but be sure to drill a small hole through which the LED will fit. Be sure to add a small note or circle in front of it to let people know where to press to light up your card!
Read fun DIY projects like these on our blog!
Curious Jane, founded by donor Samantha Razook Murphy, offers program-based after-school projects and summer camps, revolving around art and science genius.
SUBMITTED TO: KID DIY · MAKWE: KIT cards