Invent to Learn Workshop Shopping List and Downloads

The following are some of our favorite things and stuff used in Invent To Learn workshops. Enjoy!


Invent To Learn Workshop Handouts and TMI Robot Poster
The complete set of our concise how-to guides for classroom or workshop use.

Inventar para Aprender (Handouts and TMI Robot Poster en Español)

“Schooling vs. Making” – Gary Stager

Getting Started Guides to Our Favorite Hardware and Software

Top Tools of the Maker Movement for Classrooms - Sylvia Martinez
Top Tools of the Maker Movement for Classrooms – Sylvia Martinez

Making and Makerspaces

Parts and Kit Suppliers

SparkFun and Adafruit Industries are great sources of kits and electronic parts. (Both offer educator discounts)

MakerShed is a good source of kits and maker supplies for the home. They offer an educator discount upon request as well.

AustraliaEducation Technology Specialists and Little Bird Electronics

Turtle Art

Turtle Art web site

TortugArte (en Espanol)


Snap is a block-based programming language similar to Scratch, with a few extra features that make it a good choice for middle and high school computer science courses. It runs in the browser and works well with the Hummingbird Robotics Kit.

      • Snap! 3n “Experimental Math” laboratory (for Gary Stager Math and Computing workshops)

Cardboard Construction

Makedo Cardboard Construction Toolkit, Includes 30 Kid-Friendly Reusable Tools – $15 (US)

Wicked cool reusable connectors, hinges and child-safe saws for building cardboard constructions.

Interactive Papercraft with Circuit Stickers

Make electronic circuits and projects out of paper with electronic light, effect, and sensor stickers from Chibitronics!

Watch the amazing circuit sticker videos!

Buy Circuit Stickers from here.

The Hummingbird Robot Kit and Finch

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is a less than $199 robotics construction kit allowing the invention of robots with found materials. It has many useful features for easy exploration of motors, sensors, and programming, plus is robust and well-documented. A classroom kit is also available.

The Finch is a $100 robot with motors, lights and sensors. It allows for computer programming experience with robotics without building the physical robot.

Both systems work great with SNAP!, a dialect of Scratch.


litleBits kits are available from

NEW littleBits Gizmos and Gadget Invention Set
Download the littleBits Gizmos and Gadget set project plans (free – 45mb)

Getting Started with littleBits article with videos

The littleBits web site has a complete store, spare components, and countless project ideas.

Dash & Dot
Dash & Dot

Dot and Dash Robots

Wonder Workshop has created Dot and Dash, lovable robots controlled directly or programmed via iPad, iPhone (some models), and Android devices. So far, the programming options are limited to a Scratch-like version of Blockly, but the robots are robust and quickly embraced by young children.


Sparkfun Inventor KitArduino microcontrollers from SparkFun  are a good deal. There are many types and you will need to do some investigation to determine which ones are best for you. If you aren’t sure, start with a kit. The Arduino Starter Kit from Arduino has a great book of simple projects.

We use the Sparkfun Arduino Inventor’s Kit in our workshops. These kits offer an “all in one” package with an Arduino, breadboard, a variety of parts, jumper wires, LEDs, etc. and a booklet with instructions for 10 beginner projects. ($90 suggested retail)

Once you know what parts you need, order separately to make up your own custom classroom Arduino kits! Attach “shields” to add functionality to Arduinos such as GPS, Ethernet, displays, and more.

You might wish to try block-based programming of the micro controller over the Arduino IDE via the free Ardublock.

Raspberry Pi and other Microprocessors

The new all-powerful Raspberry Pi 2! – $43

Raspberry Pi Zero – so much for the money – $5

Raspberry Pi Model B+ (B PLUS) 512MB Computer Board – $37.99
The latest version of the Raspberry Pi computer.

Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter with EZmax Setup Wizard – $10.97 WiFi for the Beaglebone or Raspberry Pi

Makey Makey

Makey Makey Deluxe Kit – Sparkfun sells this kit that comes with the USB cable, plus handy jumpers, alligator clip leads, and copper tape. ($59.95)

You can also buy Makey Makey directly from the supplier with the USB cable, jumper wires, alligator clip leads, and a quick start guide.  ($49.95)

There’s no adequate way to completely explain Makey Makey, “the invention kit for everyone,” but you need to own at least one of them! It’s an easy-to-use interface between almost anything in the real world to almost any computer software that responds to keyboard input. But that’s a boring explanation for something that helps create whimsical and fun inventions!

Makey Makey website – You can buy a Makey Makey, or look at the galleries of video projects or use the provided apps that you can control via the keyboard.


LEGO WeDOWe use LEGO WeDo in our workshops. Since the demise of the fabulous PicoCrickets, this is the most versatile LEGO set for easy to use robotics construction. LEGO WeDo 2 adds bluetooth compatibility.


This early-childhood robotics construction kit that may be controlled via Scratch.

Wearable Computing, Sewing, and Soft Circuits

Lilypad is a special Arduino board specially built for wearable computing projects. There are many types for different projects, sizes, and features. (approx $20) See this Sparkfun page for a variety of Lilypad boards, accessories, and kits.

ProtoSnap – LilyPad Development Board $59

A brilliant way to get started with e-textiles! This set contains everything you need for simple wearable computing projects. The ProtoSnap comes with the Lilypad and several components (lights, buzzer, switch) already attached. This lets you prototype your invention and get your program working. Then you can “snap” the board apart into components to sew them into a garment and connect with conductive thread.

This is a lot easier than using a breadboard to prototype a soft-circuit.

Flora is another Arduino-based board for wearable computing projects similar to the Lilypad, but with cool modules like GPS.

Conductive Thread is a necessity for soft circuits and wearable computing projects. You will likely get some small bobbins of conductive thread if you purchase Lilypad kits, but for classroom use, purchase a large spool. Available from Sparkfun (stainless steel) or Amazon (silver plated nylon core), among others. The silver plated thread tarnishes and can’t be soldered, while the stainless steel is a bit harder to work with.

Sewable coin battery holders are really useful for e-textile projects.

Classroom Learning/Teaching Resources

Code to Use

Lilypad Protosnap Example Code – 2 sketches that demonstrate how all the LEDs, buzzers, buttons, sensors, etc work (Zip file lilypad_protosnap_examples)

Cool Software

Turtlestitch – a free Web-based version of SNAP! that creates nowels patterns for embroidery

Conductive Paint and Supplies

Circuit Scribe (Silver ink) Pen

Draw electrical circuits on paper with a quick-drying non-toxic pen. Use magnetic components to prototype your inventions before using LEDs, sensors, switches, and other components.

Purchase the Circuit Scribe Pen from

Conductive Paint  Pens

Bare Conductive  makes a variety of pens, paint, and kits for making paper-based circuits.

Squishy Circuits

Squishy circuit dough is homemade “play-dough” for playing with circuits. Two recipes make conductive and insulating dough that can be shaped into fun, soft, squishy circuits that work with LEDs and batteries.

Squish Circuits home page – recipes and videos. If you don’t wish to scrounge for parts, the Squishy Circuits Kit is a great way to go!

Supplies and Other Cool Makerspace Stuff


Conductive tape for all sorts of projects. Sticks to paper, cardboard, foam, and other material.

Conductive tape can be purchased single sided (only the shiny side is conductive) or double-sided with conductive adhesive (both the shiny and the sticky sides are conductive). The double-sided is a easier to use, but more expensive.

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

LEDs come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and types. Some blink or flash different colors. We use three sizes in our workshops, 3mm (small), 5mm (medium), and 10mm (large). These sizes work well in simple projects with coin cell batteries without worrying about burning them up or using resistors.

Lots of inexpensive bulk LEDs. Ebay is also a source for bulk LEDs.

50 PCS Blue LED Electronics 5mm $4.77

50 PCS White LED Electronics 5mm Ultra Bright $4.77

5mm Assorted Clear LED w/ Resistors (6 Colors, Pack of 60) $6.21

50 pcs RGB Full Multi color Flashing 5 mm LEDs $5.77

RGB LEDs are special LEDs that combine three colors (red, green, blue) that combine to make any color. They are controlled by sending different signals to the 4 legs, so are not very useful for simple projects.

When duct tape is not enough…

Sugru various prices

Miraculous shapeable air-cured rubber, because “the future needs fixing!


microtivity IM255 Assorted Switches (Pack of 15) – $9.49


Extech MN35 Digital Mini MultiMeter $19.43

You need a multimeter if electronics projects are underway.



Must haves for video projects

This is big! A complete inexpensive green screen studio in a bag!

ePhoto T69green/bag Continuous Lighting Green Screen Studio Kit with Carrying Bag with 6×9 Feet Chroma key Green Screen, 2 7 Foot Light Stands with 45W 5500k Bulbs and 2 32-Inch White Umbrellas


Table Top Studio

Photo Tent Table Top Studio Light Photography Soft Box Kit – Size 19.5-Inch Cube


Essential for stop-action animation projects and close-up photography. Everything folds up into a carrying case!

Big Trak

$60 – 70

My late friend, Steve Ocko, invented this programmable floor turtle (robot) for Milton Bradley in 1979. There has never been a more powerful easy-to-use robot available for kids since.The good news is that some lunatic bought the rights to the Big Trak and is manufacturing new ones 30+ years later.Kids from 5+ will play and learn with Big Trak for ages.

Mobile “Maker Spaces?”

Gary Stager consulted with a Canadian firm, Copernicus, to design mobile “maker” and 3D printing carts.