Light-Up Holiday Cards: Circuit Style

December 12, 2017

by Morgan Carrion, Assistant to the President

Pour some hot coco;
grab your scissors, tape and glue.
Science + crafts who knew?!

Look no further for a holiday craft bound to brighten the season. Below you’ll find instructions for how to make a light up card using a simple circuit. Before we begin, here is a 60 paper circuit instruction video that will give you a glimpse of the project.

What you’ll need:

Step I: Fold the card
Start with a full sheet of cardstock or construction paper and fold it in half to make a card.

Step II: Design your masterpiece
Think of how you would like to decorate the front of your card. What part of the scene would you like to be lit up, maybe a reindeer’s nose, the glowing part of a candle, a star, or lights on a tree? Whether you choose a figurative scene or an abstract universe, draw, cut and glue your heart out. Just don’t forget to pick a spot for the light!

light-up holiday cards

light-up holiday cards

Step III: Locate the light
Once you know where you want the light to appear, poke a small hole through the front panel of the card with a pen or scissors. On the inside flap of the card, use your pencil and draw a small circle around this hole.

Step IV: Map it out
Open up your card and follow the steps below to draw a map of the circuit directly behind your creation.

light-up holiday cards

  1. With a pencil make a medium circle where you want your battery to go. (Consider This: When the card is closed, you will press the battery to make the light come on. Put the battery in a place that correlates with your design. Like right on the stump of your Christmas tree for example.)
  2. Now, draw lines to represent the copper tape
    1. Draw a line from the center of the battery circle to one side of your light hole (negative current).
    2. Beginning on the opposite side of the battery circle, draw a line to other side of the light bulb (positive current). Make sure your line does not touch the edge of the circle.

Step V: Where the magic happens

light-up holiday cards

  1. Lay the copper tape along the lines you drew in Step IV.
    1. Lay the copper tape over the first line you drew (from the middle of the battery to the edge of the light hole). This is the negative strip.
    2. For the positive strip, fold a half inch tab on one side of your copper tape. Right beneath the fold, lay the copper tape over the second line you drew (from the opposite side of the battery to the edge of the light hole). The tab should hover over the battery when you are finished. This will serve as your on/off switch when the card is closed.
  2. Place the battery on your map negative side down. Secure the battery using clear tape. Make sure to only cover half of the battery with tape so that there is plenty of room for the folded tab to make contact with the positive side of the battery.
  3. If you are using LED lights like the one’s linked above, there will be a short leg and a long leg (these are called leads). Push the bulb through the hole and tape the longer lead (positive) to the positive strip of copper tape. Now tape shorter (negative) lead to the negative strip of copper tape. Depending on what kind of LED light you have this part may look a little different.
  4. Test your light by pressing the positive folded tab to the battery. Now, close the card and check it out.
  5. Don’t forget to write a note!

light-up holiday cards

light-up holiday cards
Light-Up holiday cards

Want to learn more? Check out these additional resources:

Check out some Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day crafts for kids!

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