There is never a better time to begin learning about electronics and circuits than in childhood. Children learn through experimentation, and what could be more fun than turning on sirens and lighting up circuits? Luckily, there are many different modular electronics kits available on the market today, which promise to teach kids the in-and-outs of circuitry through fun projects.
Littlebits and Snap Circuits are two of the most popular series of electronics kits out there. On the surface, they might appear reasonably similar, but their features are very different.
Littlebits vs Snap Circuits – Popular Sets:
|littleBits Base Inventor Kit
|Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Kit
What are the Differences Between Littlebits and Snap Circuits?
Snap Circuits are contained to use on their base plate. They can’t generally be connected to external objects and cannot extend beyond the projects included in each set, although there are expansion sets that can upgrade one set to the same componentry as a higher-priced kit. Children can play with the circuits and outputs independently without following any of the projects, but the play really can’t expand past what the kit is designed to do.
On the other hand, the projects you can do with littleBits are endless. All pieces are free-standing and can be connected to everyday objects. You can also buy small, upgrade packs that add extra bits to your collection – instead of purchasing a whole kit again. Furthermore, there are even more projects in the mobile app. LittleBits also offer an attractive variety of kits, from the Electronic Music Inventor Kit to the Space Rover Inventor Kit. These themes give the littleBits kits a level of interest an approachability beyond what Snap Circuits offers. For kids who get seriously into electronics, there is also a littleBits Deluxe Kit that works with every other littleBits module and kit.
A big pull for Littlebits is the active community. There is a mobile app where your child and other users can add their own projects and see others that have been added by other users. In many places, there are even competitions your child can enter. These extra community features allow the kits to extend beyond just the basic projects. Snap Circuits does not have a similar community, and there is no mobile app.
Snap Circuits kits are generally cheaper than Littlebits in many instances. A basic Snap Circuits kit is easily affordable for most families. You can get a basic Snap Circuits kit for only around $20. This kit has all the parts you need to do many projects. However, the experiences are fairly ‘locked-down’ – they are very guided and open-ended play options are possible but somewhat limited.
With that said, Littlebits used to be WAY more expensive. We’re talking hundreds of dollars for just a basic kit. However, in the past few years, they have been coming down in price, and you can now get a basic package for just a little bit more than a Snap Circuits kit. Because Littlebits is mostly open-ended, they provide more play opportunities as well. Plus, Littlebits kits can be used together, allowing you to perform more projects.
How to Decide Between Littlebits and Snap Circuits
When you get down to it, Littlebits has a little higher start-up cost, but provide more play and educational experiences. Snap Circuits can only be used for the specific projects the kit was designed to do, but they are much cheaper in most cases.
Both brands are designed for the same age group, though Littlebits does make some kits for older children and young teens.
In the end, it primarily comes down to your child’s interest in STEM and previous experience. If you already know your child loves STEM, you might want to consider just shelling out the extra money for a Littlebits kit. However, if your child doesn’t have much STEM experience, it is likely better to start with a Snap Circuits kit. That way, if your child ends up not using it, you aren’t out that much money.
Frequently Asked Questions
What age are Snap Circuits for?
Snap Circuits electronics kits are generally for kids aged 8 years and up. Under careful supervision, younger kids may be able to play with their kits. The Snap Circuits Beginner SCB-20 is for a younger audience, aged 5 and over.
What age are littleBits kits for?
LittleBits kits are generally for kids aged 8 years and up, although, with parent or educator discretion, younger kids may use their kits under careful adult supervision.
What do Snap Circuits and littleBits kits teach?
Snap Circuits and littleBits kits are excellent for teaching electronics without the need for soldering or complicated wires. Additional educational benefits include, problem-solving, logic and creativity.
Are Snap Circuits and littleBits safe?
Both companies produce sets that have passed thorough safety testing and are endorsed by educational groups. They use low voltage electronics and generally contain some magnetic components. Similar to many other STEM toys for this age group, the kits do contain small parts that are unsuitable for younger children.
What company manufactures Snap Circuits kits?
Snap Circuits kits are made by Elenco Electronics.
When did littleBits start?
A prototype for littleBits was demonstrated by founder, Ayah Bdeir, in 2009 at Maker Faire Bay Area. The company was founded in 2011 with a mission to empower kids everywhere — regardless of gender, race, nationality, and ability – to solve the epic challenges ahead.