Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

littleBits Premium Kit

littleBits Premium Kit

Fall 2013 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Price: $149.00

littleBits is an electronics experience: children can connect circuit components together without any chance of disaster, then use the components to tap into a world of technological creativity. The manual proclaims, "The number one rule of littleBits is that it's impossible to make a mistake." With the littleBits Premium Kit, kids are up and running within seconds and into creative design within minutes.

The Premium Kit includes 14 electronic components (and a handful of accessories), color-coded for simplicity: the necessary power is marked in blue and output is green; optional switches are pink and connectors are orange. Components snap together magnetically; the polarized magnets refuse to connect if the circuit would end up inappropriately reversed. The set includes a power connector and battery, slide dimmer switch, variable pulse switch, pressure sensor, sound-activated switch, roller switch, long LED, vibe motor, servo (swinging) motor, fan, wire branch, and two wires. This is larger than the Base Kit, and except for the power and wires, the components are completely distinct. However, this set can operate entirely independently of the Base Kit, or they can be combined for a truly impressive array of electronic "Bits."

As with the Base Kit, the easy-to-read manual (though not scientifically deep; curious minds will have to look elsewhere for an understanding of circuitry) takes the user through basic circuits to learn the components, an instructional course that can be satisfyingly completed in a few minutes, even by younger children. Then the manual leaps into creative projects: a truck crane using the servo motor; a drawer alarm, especially popular with children who have curious siblings; a silly box monster with light-up eyes. The manual encourages the use of recycled materials and household items; imaginative children will find project inspirations everywhere.

When the manual's ten projects are exhausted, it is time to move on to the littleBits website. The well-designed site offers dozens more projects from the developers, and hundreds more from other littleBits fan in the worldwide community. They offer educational workshops, providing some of the depth the manual (perhaps intentionally) lacks, and educational discounts for teachers seeking classroom enrichment.

As with the Base Kit, magnets were not always as strong as they needed to be, but broken circuits are easily reassembled. The $149 price tag may be out of reach for many families, but this set will easily see as much play as other favorite constructive or creative toys. Its mobility is unique; other electronics sets require rigid circuit boards, but this can be taken on the road: on a bicycle, strapped to an arm or inside a sleeve, or wherever the imagination leads.

Emily Crawford   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
littleBits Electronics, Inc.

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