How to Make Circuit Blocks

by Learning Technologies

Let's play, tinker, and make circuit blocks. Circuit blocks are great for drop-in programs. Learners can explore and create circuits using simple set of electrical input and output blocks.


  • Hammer
  • Wire Stripper
  • Hot Glue Gun and Sticks
  • Soldering Iron
  • Spool of Solder
  • Safety glasses
  • Metal tray (optional)
  • Third Hand (optional)
  • Four wood blocks, 3.5” x 4”
  • One holiday string light or LED light
  • One 1.5V-3V DC motor
  • One switch (almost any on/off switch will work)
  • #17 X 3/4" copper-plated nails
  • AA battery holder (two AA batteries)
  • 5-10 Alligator-clip wires
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Gather all the tools above. Please take a look at the supply list for details.

    Step 2

    Here is a simple example circuit. We have a power source, an output (a holiday string light) and a switch. By putting these components into blocks it is less intimidating to tinker with circuits.

    Step 3

    For our first block, we'll make a power or a battery block. For this block, we will need a battery holder, two nails, and a wooden block.

    Step 4

    Make a mark on a corner that is at a minimum about a 1/2 inch away from each side. This marks will be where we put our nails.

    Step 5

    To get started put some hot glue in the back of your battery holder.

    Step 6

    Then put the battery back to the wood block. Make sure the two wires can reach the nails.

    Step 7

    The wires will be long so you should cut the wires to about a 1/2" inch past the nail.

    Step 8

    Strip the wires about a 1/2 inch from the end. Twist the strands of that wire together. Wrap each one around each nail.

    Step 9

    Solder the wire to each nail. Remember - wear your safety classes and have a fan on your work to blow the fumes away from you.

    Step 10

    Put the batteries in the holder and connect a light directly to test if it works. Remember if you use an LED to reverse it if it does not light up.

    Step 11

    After testing that it is working, take the batteries out of the holder and put hot glue all around bottom of it. Put some glue over each wire to prevent it from breaking off.

    Step 12

    Here is our power block, done and ready.

    Step 13

    For this next block, we are going make a switch. To get started, we need a switch, three nails, two sections of wire (about 5 inches each), and a wooden block.

    Step 14

    Place the switch on the wooden block and mark where you want to put the nails. Try to keep the nail about a 1/2 inch from each of the edges.

    Step 15

    Pound in the nails in at each of the marks.

    Step 16

    Apply some hot glue on the bottom of the switch. Then put it on the wooden block.

    Step 17

    Remove the black and red knots from the switch. Shorten the wires to the length that it can reach the nail from the switch. Solder the wires from the switch to the nails.

    Step 18

    Screw back the knots back to the switch.

    Step 19

    Again, put some hot glue around the switch base and over the wires. Careful: don't let any hot glue get on the nails.

    Step 20

    To make our next block we'll recycle our string lights and make a light block with it. You will need a string light, two nails, and a wooden block.

    Step 21

    Lay the string light on the wooden block. This will give you some idea of where to put your nails. Just make sure that the wires are able to reach where you put the nails. Make your marks.

    Step 22

    Nail them into the block (caution not to nail them too far in).

    Step 23

    Before hot gluing your string light on the wooden block, make sure you test it to make sure that it is working. Connect the light direct to the battery block. It should light up.

    Step 24

    After testing to confirm that the light is working, solder each wire to a nail.

    Step 25

    Then hot glue it to the wooden block.

    Step 26

    There you have it!.

    Step 27

    Now we'll make a motor block. We'll will show you a trick at the end on how to make your motor vibrate. For this we will need, a small DC motor, two nails, and a wooden block.

    Step 28

    Put two nails in the block first. Apply some hot glue on the motor. Hot glue the motor to the wooden board. Make SURE the shaft is hanging off the edge of the wooden board.

    Step 29

    The reason we need to make sure the shaft sticks off of the wooden block is so we can attach things to the shaft and it has room to still spin around.

    Step 30

    Strip the end of each wire and solder it to each nail. Apply more hot glue to the motor and the wires.

    Step 31

    We want the motor to vibrate. So we'll attach something to the motor shaft that is NOT centered so when it spins it's out of balance. To do that, push a piece of hot glue stick on the shaft.

    Step 32

    Here are the four blocks that we just made! Lets play with a couple simple circuits.

    Step 33

    Let's light up the holiday light! Follow the circuit in the image to light up your block. Now, try the motor.

    Step 34

    To make the motor turn, simply replace the light with the motor. Here is a challenge: can you connect them both to the battery block and turn each one on at a time? Look to the next step for help.

    Step 35

    Did you get it to work? How about connecting it like the picture above?

    Step 36

    Go ahead and make your own blocks. The more blocks you have the more fun!

    Step 37

    Here are our power source blocks and alternatives. We have battery blocks, solar panels, and hand-crank generators.

    Step 38

    These are an array of the switch and even sensor blocks.

    Step 39

    Last but not least, the output blocks. Output blocks are the blocks that you want things to happen from the result of the input.

    Step 40

    Enjoy exploring the circuit blocks. Please let us know if you have any questions of any blocks that we have or want us to add any particular ones.