Sew n' Glow - LED bracelets!

Image from ATX DIY
Image from ATX DIY

Adapted from


  • Sew-On Snaps- Make sure they are metal and not coated with paint, they need to conduct electricity.  Magnetic snaps would also work
  • Needle – Needs to have a relatively small head
  • Conductive Thread –thinner is better
  • Strip of Felt – or any sewable, non-conductive material or fabric—felt is easy because you don’t have to hem!
  • LED – 10 mm work
  • Surface Mount Battery Holder
  • CR2032 Lithium 3Volt Battery
  • Permanent marker – Preferably a colored one.
  • Lighter – Optional, for burning ends of thread, I suppose a match would also work.
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Scissors – for clipping thread
  • Needle threader


The main thing is to make sure your stitches are nice and even, tightly pulled, and not tangled.

1. CHECK THE LED: Identify the positive lead (the little wires that look like legs on the LED are the leads) – it’s the longer of the two wires.  Now find the positive side of the battery (it should be labeled with a +).  Place the LED over the battery so that the positive lead is touching the positive side of the battery, and the negative lead is touching the negative side of the battery.  The LED should light up – if not, your battery might be dead, your LED might be bad (not very likely), or you’re doing it wrong (make sure the leads are only touching the corresponding side of the battery and not accidentally touching the opposite side).

2. Mark the long leg (the positive side) with a permanent marker.  Bend the legs of the LED using the pliers into little mustache curly-cues using the needle nose pliers.  

3.  Cut about 36 inches of conductive thread off.  Double thread your needle with a length (about 36 inches) of conductive thread and tie a knot at the end using both ends of the thread.

4. Measure your wrist using the felt.  Mark where you would want the snap to go with a marker - the marks should be on opposite sides of the felt.

5. Place your LED in the middle of the felt cuff (on the top side) and begin sewing it on working only with the positive lead (the one you marked).  Loop up through the circle a number of times being careful to pull your thread tightly in order to create a good connection between the LED and the conductive thread.  Make sure you’re sewing tight and not getting too tangled—the conductive thread tangles easily.  Pull tight carefully, checking that it’s not caught on anything!

6. Once you’ve stitched around the positive side of the LED, begin stitching out towards the end of the felt.  Use a simple straight stitch.  Sew until you get about 1 inch away from where you want the snap to go, and point your stitches downwards.

7. Flip the bracelet over and put your needle through.  Start stitching through the hole in the battery holder closest to the positive side.  Stitch up and down through the hole and the felt until it’s secure (you’ll probably only be able to pass the needle through two or three times as the hole is very small).  Again, make sure that your stitches are tight and that the thread makes good contact with the metal tab on the battery holder.

8. Tie a secure knot in the thread and clip your thread leaving a tiny tail.   You’ve just connected the positive side of the LED to the positive side of the battery holder!

9. SEWING THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF THE BATTERY HOLDER TO THE SNAP: Tie a knot at the end of your thread (or thread and knot a new length of conductive thread if you have less than a foot left).

10.  Stitch the other side (negative) of the battery holder to the felt.  Just like before, make sure your stitches are making good connections with the metal tab and you’ll probably only be able to get your needle through the hole a few times. 

11. Once the negative side of battery holder is securely stitched, stitch a few stitches out to the end of the felt.  This is where you’ll sew in one side of the snap.

12.  Take one side of the snap (I used the pointy side that pops into the hole side) and stitch it to the felt. The snap will act at the switch for your circuit – when it is connected, electricity will pass through both sides of the snap and make the circuit complete.  When the snap is disconnected, the circuit isn’t complete and electricity can’t flow through all the components.   Like always, make sure to stitch the snap in carefully, creating a tight connection between the thread and the metal snap.  Clip the end of the thread, leaving a short tail.

13. SEWING THE NEGATIVE LEAD TO THE OTHER SNAP: Thread a new length of conductive thread, making a knot in the end.  Go back to the middle of your cuff – now you’ll be sewing the negative side of the LED out to the other end of your cuff.

14.  Stitch up through the negative circle on the LED (remember, that’s the one that is not marked) and loop up and down through the felt and the LED legs a few times.

15. Now, stitch out to the other end of your cuff.  Stop when you’ve reached the point where the other snap should go so that your cuff will fit your wrist.

16.  Begin stitching the other side of the snap to the cuff – Make sure you are stitching it to the front (LED side) of the cuff.
Stitch the snap in securely and clip your thread.

17.  Now you can snap the battery into the holder.  The battery is labeled – one side with a + the other with a – .  In the SparkFun battery holders, the + side of the battery needs to face up.  Slide the battery in and push it in place.


When the snaps on your cuff are connected, the LED should light up.
If not - check the following things:
Is your battery dead?
Is your battery installed correctly in the holder (+ side facing up)?
Are all of your connections good (sometimes you have to jiggle things a little)?
Is your snap conductive and well connected?
Is the positive leg of the LED sewn to the positive side of the battery holder?
Is the negative side of the LED sewn to a snap that, when connected, is sewn to the negative side of the battery holder?
Make sure there aren’t any crossed or disconnected threads.

Make mini-zine!


• paper
• scissors
• art supplies to draw or write with
• photocopier
• your eyes, brains, and hands!

Think about your objective or reason for making the zine. Are you trying to make one that inspires people to do something? Teaches your reader something you know? Tells them a story? Here are some ideas:
• How to do something (what do you know how to do?)
• Make a story by picking a picture out of the bag.
• Tell a story about something that happened to you this summer.
• Give a book or movie review.


1. Grab a 8.5 x 11” paper.

2. Fold it into 8 parts - ie in half, then in half, then in half again

3. Unfold it

4. Using the image below, write your book and draw in it.

5. When finished, fold your paper in half hamburger style.

6. Make a cut on the “spine” side of the paper that goes half way through - to the long fold.

7. Unfold the paper flat and then fold it hotdog style.

8. Stand it upright so the cut is making a diamond on the top of the paper.

9. Grab the paper on both sides of the diamond and join them so the diamond becomes an arrow.

10. Collapse the fold so it lies flat on the table, and then fold it closed so your cover is on the front!



Make's post on zines

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Zines for Kids

Banana Tattoos

• Giant pushpins (or normal ones)
• Bananas

Grab a fresh banana (one not too brown or old).  Either cut out a stencil or thing you want to trace and start tracing making small holes in the banana skin (don’t go too deep!), or just start poking holes in the shape you want to make. Watch as the dots magically turn brown!

What’s happening:
As you can see from the illustration above, when bananas turn brown their cells are oxidizing – the oxygen in the air is reacting with chemicals in the banana skin.  It’s the same thing that happens to apples or rusty metal, and is why the Statue of Liberty is green instead of bronze colored.  When we are tattooing the banana, we are oxidizing certain cells – releasing the chemicals that turn the skin brown by breaking the cell walls with our pushpins.

Recycled Paper Notebooks

- paper cut to the size you want
- paper for your spine
- cover paper (slightly heavier and decorated)
- collage supplies - old magazines, foam letters, stamps, colored pencils, etc
- glue (Elmers)
- clothes pins or binder clips
- paintbrush (an old one)

1. Grab as many pieces of paper you want in your notebook.
2. Shuffle all the papers around aligned as accurately as possible on the left edge (the covers too).
3. Attach clips/pins to short sides near the spine so they hold the book together.
4. Place your notebook between two books so that the spine and the clips are all that shows. Use these books to hold your book together as you glue.
6. Paint glue on the spine with your brush.
7. Wait a couple seconds and add second layer of glue.
8. Keep squeezing it all together with your fingers and move glue that squirts out around the spine with your brush.
9. When the glue is dryish, take the clips off.
10. Press the notebook between wax paper sheets, lay it on the table, and palce heavy books on top and leave for 10-30 minutes until it’s totally dry.
11. Decorate your cover plate - you’ll glue this on later. Check if your notebook is totally dry.
13. When it’s dry, fold the spine cover over your book with the spine in the middle as much as you can.
14. Take it off and make sure the creases are right.
15. Paint glue on spine paper – especially the edges and center.
16. Press it on the spine.
17. Glue your cover plate on and you’re good to go!

Squishy Circuits

Squishy Circuits Kit 
Conductive and insulating dough



Walk through the circuit basics lesson plan.

Step 1: Insert the 2 leads from the battery pack into 2 pieces of conductive dough, separated by a lump of insulating dough (we recommend using food coloring to differentiate the doughs—our purple dough is conductive and white dough is insulating).

Step 2: Insert an LED so its anode (long lead) is in the positive battery lump, and its cathode (short lead) is in the negative battery lump. It will light up!

Warning: always attach LEDs to the dough. Never attach them directly to the battery pack, as running too much current through components can damage them, possibly causing them to overheat or pop.



There are a variety of video tutorials provided by University of St. Thomas School of Engineering.

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Spaghetti Bridges

Dry spaghetti (other straight, thick pastas, such as Linguini, would also work)
Marshmallows (try large and small sizes for different types of connections!


Step 1: Make two triangles with the spaghetti.    Connect the three sides of the triangle with three marshmallows at the corners. Stick the spaghetti into the marshmallows so that the triangle stays together.

Step 2: Place three piece of spaghetti into the three marshmallows going upward and away from the triangle. Form a pyramid and bring the spaghetti together at the center. Use a fourth marshmallow to keep the shape of the pyramid. Do the same with the second triangle so there are two pyramids.

Step 3: Stick one raw spaghetti in the marshmallow at the top of one pyramid. Bring the second pyramid close enough to place the other side of the spaghetti piece into the second pyramid. Check that all of the spaghetti pieces are tightly pressed into the marshmallows so that it will not come out.

Step 4:  Repeat as many times as it takes to span a distance with your bridge!



An index of famous bridges

Building Big: Bridges

How Stuff Works: Bridges

Bridge Basics


LED Throwies

10mm diffused LED
CR2032 3V lithium coin cellbattery
rare earth magnet
electric tape



Step 1: Place LED legs apart over battery. Make sure positive leg (long) is on the positive side of the battery.

Step 2: Tape LED onto battery and cover. Then take magnet and tape around.

Step 3: Think of activities like tossing magnet to stick to areas of the library or create shapes with multiple LEDs.   You can also install LED throwies into paper crafts!



We have used SparkFUn to buy batteries and LEDs.

Here are some extreme LED Throwie ideas!

Learn more about magnets!


Duct Tape Bowties


Duck tape!



Step 1: Cut two pieces of duck tape. Make one piece a little longer than the other.

Step 2: Stick the two pieces together (sticky sides in) with the shorter piece in the center of the longer one.

Step 3: Fold over the longer edges

Step 4: Fold bow into an accordion shape or  crinkle.

Step 5: Cut off a small piece of duck tape and use it to pinch the middle closed.

Step 6: Ta-da! Attach to a hairclip or wear to a  fancy pants event.

Coding Challenges for Kids

Watch and follow along with this 30-minute tutorial to learn the basics of using Hopscotch:

Exercise 1:
Choose Monkey as your character. 
Put the Move block in the center and make the monkey move 300.
Place the Rotate block on top of the Move block and select 45 degrees.

Hopscotch Challenges by Dr. Wesley Fryer
This ebook of challenges is an extension of Hopscotch basics.

Open T|E|A Room: Rainbow Loom

Miss Krishna, Miss Claire & Miss Liz in Rainbow Loom form
Miss Krishna, Miss Claire & Miss Liz in Rainbow Loom form

Open T|E|A Room 4:30 - 5:30 Wednesday June 4

Attention Grades 3 - 6! 

Have you run out of ideas with your Rainbow Loom?

Do you need help starting or finishing a project?

Have you found a design that requires two looms hooked together?

Join us June 4th from 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Browse our guidebooks for inspiration!

Try our new MONSTER TAIL Rainbow Loom!

**Grades 3 - 6**

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