Make a Simple Circuit


Hi there! We made it through the first half of the 10 Days of Electricity and Magnetism series. Are you inspired to tackle this fun subject with your kiddos? We’ve covered a lot this week: bits of history, static explorations, and yesterday we talked about making an electroscope. Today we’re moving along… and talking about how electricity can move too.


10 Days of Electricity and Magnetism


Static electricity, for those who haven’t caught on, is electricity that builds up in something. The charges build up until they jump to something else, like the spark of lightning that jumps from cloud to cloud we talked about the other day. Current electricity, what we’ll explore today, is moving electricity.

If you want something to work – your computer, a flashlight, your brother’s remote control car – the electricity needs to move through a circuit. A circuit is the path the electricity flows. I like to remember that it’s like a CIRcle since CIRcuit starts the same way.

All circuits work the same way. Electricity leaves the source of its power, travels the path, and goes back to the other side of the power source in an unbroken path. So, for example, in a flashlight, the power leaves the negative end of the battery, travels through the wires to the bulb, then through more wires and back to the positive end of the battery.

What’s really cool about electricity and circuits is that you can make one at home without any special equipment. Ready to try?


Make a Simple Circuit


You’ll need:

  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • a D-cell battery
  • a small light bulb {maybe from a flashlight}

Try it this way:

  1. Cut two pieces of aluminum foil and fold them into strips.
  2. Tape one to the positive end of the battery and the other to the negative end.
  3. Touch one strip to the bulb, just under the glass.
  4. Touch the other strip to the silver tip on the end of the bulb.
  5. The bulb should light up because you have created an unbroken circuit with your “wires.”


Make a Simple Circuit Steps


If you really want your kids to have some fun, let them play with this for a bit. Ask them what would happen if they added two {or more} batteries, or more wires. Better yet, give them wires and more bulbs and batteries to try out. I keep wires, wire cutters, batteries, bulbs, bulb holders, switches, buzzers, and battery holders in a small plastic container and let the kids play with them when they want.


Simple Circuitry Play


There’s something really cool about being allowed to freely explore with wires and batteries. The kids in the pictures above are friends who have all helped me out on past book projects, testing experiments and playing with science so I can see what works and what doesn’t. All of them, girls and boys, have loved being able to play with the electricity stuff. They come up with some pretty amazing ideas through this play.

And what’s great is, if you want to set something up, the materials are inexpensive. If you’re interested in doing this with your kids, the foil and tape will work well and will elicit the “that’s cool” response we’re hoping for. But, if you want more materials, they’re easy to find online or in science supply catalogs. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the carousel below for some supplies we own {these are affiliate links}. Widgets


Ready for more? We’ll take a break from the series for the weekend, but make sure you come back on Monday to find a cool way to make your own switch to turn the simple circuit you made on and off. In the meantime, check out some of the other Hopscotch bloggers like Kendra who is talking about Raising Boys and Angie who is trying some fun New Experiences.

Be sure you stick around for the series and beyond. Click on the picture below to subscribe by email.

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Have a fabulous weekend!