Squishy Circuits & Thrifting


In CEP 811, our challenge this week was to use a maker’s kit and a thrifted item of our choice to create something we could use in our classroom. In Rethinking Technology and Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future, Punya Mishra and the Deep-Play Research Group argue that educators must “bring together Technology, Pedagogy and Content in an original, innovative manner” (2012). This project encouraged me to do just that. Check out the math game I made for my 2nd grade students called Time to Make Cupcakes in the video below using Squishy Circuits and some items I already had in my house! I have also included directions and visuals if you would like to create one, too.

How to Play

This game is meant to be played with a partner, but you may play alone as well. Player 1 will read one of the analog clocks and touch the prong to that clock with the aluminum foil wand. They will then match the time to the digital clock by touching the prong of the LED with the wand. If the LED is the same color as the analog clock, they are correct and they get to choose a piece of the cupcake. Then, it is Player 2’s turn, and they do the same. When they get all the times correct in Round 1 (half hour time increments), they move on to Round 2 (five minute time increments). Whichever player has the most parts to their cupcake at the end, wins!


How to Make Cupcakes Game

Using it in the Classroom

My students LOVE math games, so I thought that I would use these materials to make a new game for them. One of the 2nd grade Common Core State Standards for math is CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.MD.C.7: Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes, using a.m. and p.m. With the increase of digital clocks on new technologies and the lack of analog clocks, students have a difficult time reading them. Time to Make Cupcakes makes practicing telling time fun! It can be used as part of a math center and can be played alone or with a partner.


Throughout creating this game, I came across many obstacles. I originally thought that I would use the Cupcake Race for the box and the pieces, but the box was too small, so I found a gift box to use instead. This was not as sturdy and the play dough made it cave in. If I were to make another one, I would use a pizza box and cover it with paper. I was also going to print out the clocks and glue them on the box to save time, but my printer wasn’t working. The biggest challenge came when I was trying to figure out how to get the LEDs to light up using the battery wires because the red wire had to be in the box with the play dough while the black one had to touch the prongs on the game board. After many trials and errors, I came to the idea of poking a hole in the side and making the black wire longer with aluminum foil.

The Maker’s Kit: Squishy Circuits

I was able to choose a maker’s kit of my choice. When I saw Squishy Circuits, I knew I wanted this one because who doesn’t like playing with play dough?! I bought the Deluxe Kit off Amazon (includes the play dough) for $75, but there is also a Standard Kit for $35, where you would have to make your own play dough. I recommend playing with your kit for a while until you are comfortable with using all the components before making the game.


The Thrifted Items

  1. Cupcake Race Children’s Game (I used the cupcake game pieces only; the box was too small to use as the game board)
  2. 9.5”x14” Gift Box (you could also use a pizza box, which will be more sturdy)
  3. Aluminum Foil



Other Materials Needed

  1. Permanent Markers (I used 3 colors: Black, Red, Blue)
  2. Ruler
  3. Pin (to poke holes in the box)



How to Make

1.Use the ruler to divide the box into two equal halves. Write Round 1 and Round 2 on each half.


2. Use the the cupcake from the game (or anything else that’s circular and about 1.5 to 2 inches) to draw 7 circles on each side for the analog clocks. Draw the numbers in the clocks.

3. In Round 1, draw times in the analog clocks that are in half hour increments. Write the digital times at the bottom in a mixed up order.

4. In Round 2, draw times in the analog clocks that are in 5 minute increments. Write the digital times at the bottom in a mixed up order.

5. Using the pin, poke a hole in the middle of each analog clock and next to each of the digital times for the LED prong to go through.


6. Poke a larger hole on the side of the box for one of the battery wires to go through.


7. Take 2 LEDs of the same color and put the longer prong through the analog clock hole and put the other LED in the matching digital time hole (the shorter prong stays on top of the box).

8. Flip the box over, push the prongs down so that they are flush with the box and cover each with conductive play dough.



9. Repeat this with the rest of the clocks. NOTE: Make sure that the LEDs are the same color for the correlating times. You will use the colors twice–once for Round 1 and then again for Round 2.

10. Use more conductive play dough to connect all the individual pieces of play dough.



11. Put a pile of conductive play dough by the hole you made on the side and make sure that it connects to the rest of the conductive play dough.


12. Take a piece of aluminum foil (about 12 inches long) and wrap it around the metal part of the black wire of the battery pack to make it longer.


13. Put the metal part of the red wire of the battery pack through the side hole in the box so that it is in the play dough.


14. Turn on the battery pack and touch the metal prongs of the LEDs with the aluminum foil to make sure they all work.

Optional: Decorate!


I hope you and your students enjoy!


Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.

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