Light and Dark Exploration with iPad Controlled Toys.

This term our learning has been investigating “what happens when the sun goes down”. One of the earliest observations is that it gets dark much earlier and the moon comes up. With this comes the need for light to see in the dark so out comes our tents, black bed sheets and den building. In our dark spaces we play with torches and light sources. In terms of technology learning in Early Years Outcomes, this play links to the switching on and off of light sources & looking at batteries.

We wanted to take this early technological learning a little deeper, and closer to a modern home. We made use of two different Bluetooth controlled devices in our dark spaces. This activity is all about controlling light sources as a connected device, getting a device to respond to instructions on an app.

MiPow: Playbulb Candles.


These 3 LED, battery powered candles are controlled in the Playbulb X app and connect via bluetooth within the app. The children don’t need to connect the bulb themselves, the app does this connection in the background for them. The candles can be controlled as a group of 3 or individually.


There are a range of effects the children can apply to the LED candles but they can also explore the colour changing of the device, use the dimmer slider and also switching them on and off. They are great fun to create different moods in the dark spaces.



Dot from MakeWonder.

Dot is a character who is controlled with an app from MakeWonder called Go. This toy connects to the iPad using Bluetooth and this pairing happens within the app. Using the Go app, Dot’s various lights can be controlled. The eye ring can be turned on, off or dimmed. The spots and triangle panels are also controlled with a range of switches, colour changes and effects.


The Challenge

Controlling these devices by using switches and sliders could support development in the 30-50 months band of the technology strand in Early Years Outcomes. But the investigation of switches doesn’t need to stop there. Both of these devices are controlled by separate apps. One child controlled the candles with one iPad, another controlled Dot with a second iPad. Working together, they needed to explore how to match the colours of the candles and of Dot’s lights. The two apps use a different colour chart so it is a case of looking closer and using the sliders to make the match.


The Outcome

This was a great control activity for earlier learners on our Technology curriculum. Those children who need to see robots or devices ‘do something’ because they’ve ‘switched something’. The activity strongly supported our light and dark investigation, embedded technology in to purposeful play and extended the usual torch and colour filter play.

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