DIY LED Lanterns for Kids!




Introduction: DIY LED Lanterns for Kids!

About: Software engineer & avid maker


Tools & Materials Recommended:
*Lasercutter (or an xacto and very steady hand)
*3D Printer
*Basic Soldering Equipment
*Durable string
*Coloured Cellophane
*Paint or Markers
*Two-Sided Tape
*Hot Glue
*3 AAA batteries and holder
*Custom LED Circuit

There are three files attached to this page that you'll need:
*3D Printed Moon CAD file
*Lantern Exterior CDR file
*LED Circuit PDF

Step 1: The Battery Pack

Note: I chose to spray paint my lantern black.  You can do with yours as you please.  From now on, I'll be referring to the black side as the "front", and the blank side as the "back".

The square piece with one off-set hole in it is the base of your lantern.  Run the wires of the battery pack through the hole, such that the battery pack is on the back side.

Now take your lantern sides (the long piece of cardboard with all of the pictures on it), and hold the image of the house up.  The rectangle hole that is missing in the house is where our switch will go.  We're going to cut the positive (red) wire on our battery pack such that the switch is lined up with the hole in the house.

Step 2: The Switch

Solder the switch to the red wire.  Make sure it can reach the hole in the house!

Next, slide one half of the moon over both wires.  (This step is important!)

Step 3: The LED Circuit

We used a custom board for our LED--but you don't have to.  This circuit can be replicated with a 1W LED and a PTC Resistor. 

Once you've soldered the LED to the ends of the battery pack, it's time to position it for optimal lighting.  Bend the LED such that it's pointed straight down.  Now, hold up the top half of the moon, and position the lower half  just low enough along the wire to fit the LED in the very top of the other half of the moon.  Drop a bit of hot glue in the bottom of the lower moon to hold it in place on the wire.

Step 4: The Moon

Take a LONG piece of string, and run it through the holes in the moon, as shown.  Leave lots of slack in the string, and you'll save yourself some heartache later on.

Check again to make sure your LED is pointing down, for optimal lighting.  Pull the moon halves together, and tie off the string to hold them in place.  Now is a good time to test your circuit.  Turn on the switch and make sure it works!

Step 5: The Lantern

Set your LED & moon aside now.  It's time to build the lantern exterior.

Lay the lantern down with the inside facing up.  Grab your two-sided tape, and apply it as shown in the picture.  Then, cut up some cellophane (or plastic wrap), and apply it over the windows in the lantern.

Step 6: Adding the Base to the Lantern

Apply another row of two-sided tape to the lantern as shown in the picture. 

Fold your lantern along the dotted lines, and begin attaching the base.  (Make sure you line it up properly, so the switch ends up next to the house!)

Once the lantern is rolled almost entirely onto the base, fold the flap next to the cat image, and place some double-sided tape here.  This will be used to fasten the sides of your lantern together.

Step 7: Finish Up the Base

Now that you're certain your switch can reach the hole in the house, go ahead and hot glue the battery pack to the bottom of the lantern.

Next, cut a hole in the cellophane where the hole for the switch in the house is.  Wiggle the switch through sideways, and set it in place.  (It should pressure-fit, but a dab of hot glue wouldn't hurt.)

Step 8: Attach the Lid

Take another long piece of string and run it through the side holes in your lid and lantern, as shown in the picture.  This will be your handle, and will keep the lid attached to the body.

Next, run the string from your lantern through the two middle holes.  Before you tie the moon strings, run the end of the handle string through the last holes.  With the lid closed and the handle attached, pull the moon into position, tie off the string, and trim all loose ends.

Step 9: You're Done!


Turn it on and see how it looks!

Step 10: Show Your Friends!

I created these kits for a special holiday class for kids. Check out the pictures from our class!

Halloween Decorations Contest

Finalist in the
Halloween Decorations Contest

Make It Glow

Participated in the
Make It Glow

Be Prepared Contest

Participated in the
Be Prepared Contest

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween contest!!! Can’t wait to see if you win! Good luck!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    The kids are pretty cute too. I'm going to send these to our friends at Mt Elliot Makerspace in Detroit. Some blocks there don't have any street lights.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very good looking Lantern.

    Where did you get the LED ?
    and how many ohms is the resistor ?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You should not use a regular resistor, as it's very difficult to regulate high-power LED's using a simple resistor.

    This design uses a PTC resistor "fuse" (aka resettable fuse, polyfuse) to regulate current.

    The PDF has the complete parts list for this kit. I've also put them on sale at tindie. Please follow the link from


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The PDF has a schematic and all part numbers included. You can look them up on Mouser or other online parts distributor. :)