Liza celeb


Birthday Challenge Workshop Guide

by lizabits

Published on September 12, 2016


During this workshop, participants will work in teams to invent a celebration creation for littleBits’ 5th Birthday Party. Check out the Challenge page to submit inventions and check out the other entries.

For a Google Doc version of this Workshop Guide, click here.

  • Warmup (5 min): Epic Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament 
  • Introduction (7 min): Agenda, Community Code, What are littleBits? 
  • Create (45 - 90 min): Brainstorming, The Challenge, Make! 
  • Play (10 min)
  • Remix (15-20 min): Make Improvements, Upload to the Invention Platform 
  • Share (10 min): Present, Celebrate! 
  • Reflect (10-15 min) 

We recommend 2-3 hours for this workshop. If you need help adapting it, post your question on the forum!

Participants will…
  • Create an invention for a birthday celebration. 
  • Develop collaborative skills by working in small groups. 
  • Solve problems using the design process. 
  • Test their inventions with other people. 
  • Film a short movie using digital media tools. 

From 2 to 25

  • 2-3 participants per team. 
  • TIP: Put them in groups as they walk in by counting off, letting them choose, or whatever your preferred method is.        
  • Create a space for collaboration: organize desks to accommodate small groups or a U-shape to promote inclusivity. 
  • Place all Bits in one section of the room and all craft materials in another. 
  • Nametags are always a good idea if participants don’t know each other. 
  • Make sure each at least one participant in each group has a littleBIts login. 

  • littleBits kits (If you don’t have a Workshop Set or Pro Library, we recommend the Rule Your Room Kit, STEAM Student Set, or Gizmo’s + Gadgets Kit.) 
  • Streamers 
  • Balloons 
  • Birthday hats 
  • Different types of tape (duct tape, masking tape, etc) 
  • String 
  • Cardboard (boxes, tubes, etc) 
  • Other recyclables 
  • Different colored paper 
  • Markers 
  • Googly eyes 
  • Etc   

  • Scissors 
  • Tape 
  • Gluedots 
  • Camera or smartphone camera 
  • Computers (one per group) or smartphones with littleBits app for participants to upload the projects 

Below are some variables you should take into account as you design your workshop. You can adjust, add, or forego sections depending on your needs. Except for the final reflection - that’s the most important of all!
  • Age: This workshop guide can be adapted for all ages, from late elementary to middle to high school. Think about your primary audience and change it up based on their skills and knowledge. For example, if the challenge is about inventing a new instrument, you could have high schoolers look at the history of electronic instruments and remix one they like. If it’s for elementary, you can have them create a personal drum that they can use to march to their own beat. 
  • Time: Do you have 50 minutes, a couple hours, or a few sessions? 
  • Number of participants: Do you want them working on one project collaboratively, in small groups, or as individuals?
  • For example, if you have a group of 15, you might think about dividing them into three groups and assigning roles to each member (e.g. director, cinematographer, etc)

Lesson Guide


WARMUP: Epic Rock Paper Scissors Tournament (5-10 min)
  • HELLOBe sure to welcome everyone as they come into the space and ask them to get a name tag. It always sets a good tone to play some fun music in the background.
    • TIP: Don’t let them touch the Bits yet, even if you really want to. It’s much harder to regain control of the group.
  • Once everyone is there and ready, start the warmup.
  • Explain that before you get started with the challenge, you’re going to play a quick round of EPIC Rock, Paper, Scissors - with everyone in the game!
  • Here’s how it works:
  • Everyone will stand up and choose a partner.
  • Each group will play Rock, Paper, Scissors and the person who wins 2 out of 3 times wins.
    • TIP: If you want this to go really fast, just do best of one.
    • TIP: Have two students demo RPS
  • Whoever loses stands behind the winner and becomes their personal cheerleader.
  • Whoever wins finds another winner to play. Whichever team loses gets behind the winning team to cheer them on.
  • Continue until there are two winners left. Bring them up in front for the last battle with all of their cheerleaders.
  • Hold a tense drumroll, then let the final round begin.


INTRODUCTION (7 min) Agenda Tell the group what you'll be doing so they have a clear idea of what is expected of them:
  • Introduction to littleBits
  • Brainstorming for the challenge
  • Making
  • Sharing
  • Reflecting
Community Code
  • As a group, come up with 4-5 rules that you all agree on to have a fun and productive time (e.g. be respectful, give constructive criticism, one voice, etc).
  • Once you have a good list, ask everyone to give you a thumbs up high.
What are littleBits? (If your group isn't familiar with bits, start here. Otherwise, go straight to the challenge)
  • Take the temperature: How many of you have built circuits before? Who can tell me what a circuit is?
  • Explain: littleBits allows you to make circuits easily.
  • Show them the blue power. ASK what they notice about it.
  • Add the green output. ASK if they know what "output" means.
  • Explain: Outputs do something, like light up, move, or make sound. LEDs light up, motors move, and buzzers make noise.
  • Insert the pink input. ASK what they think is happening in the circuit.
  • Explain: There are many different types of input or sensors that let you control the world around you in different ways.
    • TIP: Make an analogy to human senses (e.g. seeing, feeling, hearing)
    • TIP: If you have time, have them think about where they see these sensors in daily life.
  • Insert an orange wire. Explain that this extends the circuit.
  • littleBits are the tools, along with the craft materials, you will use during this challenge. Let’s get to it!


CREATE (45-90 min) Brainstorming: Think Pair Share (7-10 min) (OPTIONAL)
  • Give each group a stack of post-its and pens OR a large sheet of paper. Tell participants they have 3 minutes to write down their fav things about birthdays or parties. There should be one item per post-it OR to list them out on the paper. Each participant should quietly do this on their own. Generate a few examples as a group to get them going: balloons, cake, friends, etc.
  • After 3 minutes, pair two smaller teams together and have each participant briefly share out their list.
  • After 5 minutes, bring everyone back together to explain the challenge.
The Challenge (5 min)
  • In your small teams, you will use littleBits and other materials to create an invention to help littleBits celebrate its 5th birthday!!
  • Here some inspiration to get you started.
Make! (20-45 min)
  • Let them go forth and invent! The room should be a little chaotic and buzzing with creative conversation.
  • Important: Float around to teams and offer advice or feedback. Make sure you are asking questions and not just giving answers.


PLAY (10 min)
  • Stop the teams and have them test each others’ inventions
    • Ask them to “Power off, hands up.” Otherwise, you will be competing with buzzers and motors.
  • Explain that each group will test their invention on another group.
    • Group A will have 3 minutes to share their invention and Group B will have 2 minutes to give feedback.
    • Then they will switch.


REMIX (15-20 min) Make improvements (5-10 min)
  • When all teams have tested, ask if they would like more time to work on their invention. (This should be a resounding yes!)
  • Ask them to use the feedback they received to make improvements, then document it.
Upload to the Invention Platform (5-10 min)
  • To enter the challenge, you can either use the littleBits app or submit through the Invention Platform.
  • TIP: Have participants check out our Documentation tutorial.


SHARE (10 min)
  • Ask everyone to put down their materials and turn off their Power bits.
  • Celebrate the work they've done before they begin sharing. Give them a huge round of applause for their collaboration, creativity, tenacity, etc (whatever you noticed them doing well).
  • Depending on your time and size, have participants give an explanation and demo to the whole group. Not everyone needs to participate - don’t force anyone who does not want to.
    • If you have a large group, divide them into subgroups and have them share out to that smaller group.
    • Give everyone another round of applause after everyone has presented.
  • Have a party! Put those inventions to good use. Throw your own littleBits Birthday Invention Party.


REFLECT (10-15 min) This is one of the most important parts of the workshop, so be sure to save time for it. Below are two possible activities depending on your group.
  • What did they enjoy the most?
  • What was the most challenging?
  • If you could give one piece of advice to another team who hasn't done this, what would it be?
  • Define the word failure and give at least one example from this workshop.

Activity Option 1: Post-its Choose two of the questions above. Have each participant write one item per post-it. As each participant shares, group them on a board where everyone can see. Once they are all up, look for patterns as a large group.

Activity Option 2: Think Pair Share Have individual participants free write silently for 5 minutes on 2-3 of the questions above, then share in their teams or small mixed groups. Have one participant share major themes to the larger group.