First Grade

Squishy Circuits

Innovative Designer


Squishy Circuits are fun for all ages!  Students can use conductive dough and insulating dough to teach the basics of electrical circuits in a fun, hands-on way. Students can create a circuit which will Illuminate LED lights, make a motor spin, or a buzzer sound. Power is supplied by a 4AA battery pack and travels through the conductive dough to provide power to LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), buzzers, or motors.

Squishy Circuit kits range from $15.00 for a very basic kit to a premium kit for $75.00. 

Squishy Circuits are great for STEAM activities. 

This activity would be good for second and third grade also. 

Students will:

  • Understand basic circuitry.
  • Be able to create a basic circuit using the two types of dough. 

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Squishy Circuit: A Squishy Circuit is a maker kit that uses conductive and insulating play dough to teach the basics of electrical circuits.
  2. Electrical Circuit: An electrical circuit is a circular path through which electricity flows.  

To prepare for this lesson:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Squishy Circuit site. 
  • Decide which Squishy Circuit kit would be best for your classroom. 
  • Purchase their dough or use one of the recipes to make your own for the students. 
  • Students will not have had an introduction to how circuits work, but in first grade, they are expected to learn about sound and light. The Squishy Circuits will be a great introduction to teach about sound and light. Here is a link to a great lesson from Science Buddies. 
  • Get out the kit and play dough and play with it first yourself.
  • If a device you attach won’t work - try switching the leads from the battery; some devices have an in and out. 
  • The power is shared - more items ⇒ each gets less power. 
  • Add food coloring to make it easier to identify conductive vs. insulating dough. If unsure, conductive dough will taste very salty, whereas the insulating dough will taste sweet (both doughs are safe to taste)
  • Clean connectors when finished -the dough will corrode metal. 
  • The recommended lifespan of the doughs is about one month, however, it can be frozen for long-term storage. 
  • Look through the projects and lessons supplied by Squishy Circuits. 
  • Watch the video 3 Squishy Circuits in 2 Minutes

See the Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students website in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

  1. The teacher will introduce the Squishy Circuits to the students. 
  2. The teacher will tell them they are going to use play dough and batteries to make their creation light up. 
  3. The teacher can have the students make the play dough themselves, the teacher provides home-made play dough or purchases it from Squishy Circuits. 
  4. Have the students create something with their play dough. They could create a tree with lights, an animal whose eyes light up, etc. 
  5. The teacher will have to explain the two different kinds of play dough and how they work with the leads and battery pack. 
  6. Have the students attach the battery pack and leads to the play dough and watch it light up!

Optional Activities:

  • Have the students hook up buzzers to make sounds. 
  • Have the students hook up a small motor. 

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • Create a simple rubric measuring:
    • How well they listened. 
    • The aesthetics of the object they created. 
    • If the object lights up, makes a sound, etc. 

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Innovative Designer
4a. Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
4b. Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
4c. Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.

  • Students can use the play dough creatures they create to tell a story.

  • When they get to the spot in the story, they can make it light up or make noises. 

  • The students will create things out of the play dough. 

  • The students can create a small set for the background of the story they create about the character they made out of play dough. 

  • The Squishy Circuits can be used in math games. 

  • When the problem is correct, the buzzed will be pushed. 

  • Introduce light and sound and how it works to the students. 

  • Students will create a basic circuit. 

This task card was created by Andy Mann, REMC Director, Muskegon Area ISD and Melissa White, 21Things Project Manager. Updated October 2023.