Chibitronics recently came out with some new sticker lights that made paper circuits even easier. My coteacher and I brainstormed, and ended up using them in three ways in our ELA classes this school year:
1. Treasure Maps
Our first unit teaches narrative writing. We had students create a fantasy treasure map and add in a paper circuit to light up where the treasure was. The treasure ended up being everything from cupcakes to gold in Africa. Then they based their first big narrative on their maps. Our thinking was that the circuitry aspect would help to increase engagement, and it definitely did. (Plus it was fun.)
2. Random Acts of Kindness
Our students have been placed at our school because they are unable to function in their homeschools. As a result, we place a big emphasis on Social-Emotional Learning. We had our kids make a card thanking a staff member for their help and support. They could attach a paper circuit or a throwie. The throwies led to a lot of experimentation about how many lights we could light up with one battery, how long they would stay lit, etc. Our classroom glowed when the lights were turned off! Students presented their cards in person and were thus able to both show appreciation and feel the impact of their positive behavior. Staff still have the cards hanging in their offices (although we need to give them new batteries).
3. World Peace Game
In our last unit, we did a version of John Hunter's World Peace game. The poorest country in the game, Snowenia, did not even have electricity. That team spent three weeks researching how a country would "get" electricity. Once they finally had an understanding, they added actual "electricity" to the World Peace Game map in our classroom.
I am a big believer in multidisciplinary teaching and using hands-on projects to increase engagement. Our students learned about topics from all disciplines via these circuitry activities. It was not a science classroom, but it often looked like one!
How can you use paper circuits in your classes?