Introduction: How to Make a Light-up Card

About: The Beta Lab at UC Davis studies how young people learn and develop through participation in making and the Maker Movement. We investigate the nature of learning that occurs during extended, youth-driven maker…

In this activity we will learn about electricity, how circuits work and how to make a light up card! After you create your own card, share it on social media with #HomeMakeKit so we can see how it turned out!


Copper tape, Construction paper, LED light, Coin cell battery, Tape, and Markers

Step 1: Step 1: Light Up the LED Light

Using just the coin cell battery, try to light up the LED. The LED has two legs. Place one leg of the LED on to one side of the battery then place the other leg on the other side of the battery. If the LED does not work, try switching sides.

Step 2: Step 2: How the LED Lights Up?

The longer leg of the LED light is the positive side and the shorter leg is the negative side. The battery has a positive side marked with a “+” and the other side is negative. The LED light will only work if the positive leg of the LED is connected to the positive side of the battery and the negative leg is connected to the negative side. That way the electricity can flow correctly through the LED.

Step 3: Step 3: How to Use Copper Tape

We want to extend the connection of the LED and the battery so that the LED can be more easily placed in a card. In order to extend the connection, we can use anything that conducts electricity! For this project we are using copper tape. Copper tape has two sides: the copper side which conducts electricity and the sticky side that does not. To use the copper tape, peel back the white paper on the back and stick the sticky side of the copper tape to paper.

Step 4: Step 4: Make a Paper Circuit

Use the copper tape to create a box on your construction paper. The right side of the box will connect one side of the battery to one leg of the LED. The left side will connect the other side of the battery to the other leg of the LED. The corners on this box will be tricky. If you rip the copper tape and place a second piece over the first one, the copper tape will not be able to conduct electricity, since the sticky side of the copper tape does not conduct electricity. We need to not break the copper tape when making corners.

Step 5: Step 5: How to Make the Corner of the Box

If you have a line of your copper tape and you want to turn it to go another direction, simply fold the tape in the opposite direction you want it to go, then fold it in the direction you want to go and attach it to the page.

Step 6: Step 6: Complete Your Box

After you create your box you need to be able to attach the battery. In order to do this, extend the copper tape further on the corner where your battery will be. Rip the copper tape and fold it back on its self. That way when you put the battery on the paper, the nonstick side of the copper tape will touch the top of the battery.

Step 7: Step 7: Add LED and the Battery

It is easiest if you put the negative side of the battery face down. Then the right side of the box will be the negative side. Remember from earlier, the negative side of the battery has to touch the negative leg of the LED. This means we must attach the negative leg of the LED (shorter one) to the right side of the box and the longer leg on the LED to the left side of the box. Tape it down and you have a paper circuit!

Step 8: Step 8: Light Up Card

Now we can create a light up card. First untape your LED. Poke a hole where your LED is supposed to go. Flip over the paper and draw a picture around where the LED will be. On my picture I wanted to have the LED be the center of my flower so I drew peddles around my hole.

Step 9: Step 9: Finishing the Card

Stick the LED through the hole so the legs come out on the side with the circuit. Tape the legs down. Remember to connect the longer leg to the left side and shorter leg to the right side. Then tape the battery in as well. Now you have a light-up card!

Step 10: Step 10

Here are some questions to think about.

1. Can you make the card better?

2. Can you add multiple LEDs to a card?

3. Can you make it so the card can turn off and on?

We hope you enjoyed this project!