Hack Your Halloween Workshop Guide

by lizabits

Published on October 26, 2017

Calling all zombies, witches, phantoms, and mad scientists! 

Use your bits to invent a costume or prank, then create a a scary movie featuring your masterpiece. The petrifying project possibilities are endless! You can….

  • Trick out your pumpkin by making it a hack-o’-lantern
  • Amp up your Halloween gear! Time to pull out that glowing skeleton costume.
  • Make a trick AND treat candy bowl: a prank to petrify costumed candy-grabbers. Muuahhahahahahaha!
  • Create that creaky, spooky sound coming from around the corner.
For a Google Doc printable version of this guide please click here.

Participants will...   
          ▪ Develop collaborative skills by working in small groups.
          ▪ Use the design process to build an invention that conveys a specific mood and tone.
          ▪ Write a narrative around that invention that includes plot, setting, characters.
          ▪ Translate the narrative into a short film script.
          ▪ Film a short movie using digital media tools.
          ▪ We recommend 20-25 for this guide. 
          ▪ 4-5 participants per group
          ▪ Include a set of bits and craft materials at each table
          ▪ Nametags are always a good idea if participants don’t know each other.
          ▪ Make sure each at least one participant in each group has a littleBIts login.

          ▪ littleBits kits (In addition to the Gizmos & Gadgets kit, we recommend the STEAM Student Set, Code Kit, or Synth Kit.
          ▪ Craft materials (colored paper, glue dots, paper towel tubes, googly eyes, craft sticks, etc)
          ▪ Halloween materials (pumpkins, old costumes, cobwebs, etc)
          ▪ Camera or smartphone camera 
          ▪ Computers (one per group) or smartphones with littleBits app for participants to upload the projects
          ▪ Optional: Film editing software such as iMovie (Mac) or Movie Maker (PC) 



  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6



Cross-cutting Concepts

  • Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
  • Systems and system models. Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
  • Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.

Duration: We recommend 2.5-3 hours for this workshop. If you would like to spend more time on filmmaking and editing, try doing a two part workshop - one with bits and one for filming. If you need help adapting it, post your question on the forum!

Lesson Guide


WARMUP Icebreaker (15 min)
Scary Scavenger Hunt: Participants should ask 5 different people one of the following questions and record their answers + names. Have them share out a few of the answers.
          ▪ What was the last movie that made you scream?
          ▪ What was your favorite costume?
          ▪ Coolest pumpkin you've ever seen?
          ▪ What is your favorite scary story or author?
          ▪ [Come up with your own!]


Create a circuit that screams when the light goes off.
1) Get everyone buzzing.
2) Explain: This is the powerful bit - littleBits allows you to quickly create circuits to invent anything. You can get as complex or as simple as you'd like.

Introduce the Design Challenge: 
1) Invent a spooky circuit and film a scary movie featuring your creation! You are going to work in teams to design and build a spook-tacular creation that tells a story or sets a scene, then film a short movie (between 30 sec and 3 minutes) to feature it.
2) Form participants into groups of 3-5. We like to assign roles to divide and conquer:
          ▪ Cinematographer - You hold the camera. Wield it well.  
          ▪ Set Director - You make sure your team considers lighting, background, spooky sound cues, etc.
          ▪ Prop Provoker - You encourage your team to think about creative ways to use the bits.
          ▪ Editor - You consider and question how scenes fit together. ▪ Actors - You are the scary stars!

3) Introduce the bits:
          ▪ What are littleBits?
          ▪ What do they do?
          ▪ How do they work?
          ▪ Why were they created?


Get Inspired:
1) Show 2-3 videos of bits in action and 2-3 spooky projects. 
2) Tell participants to write down any ideas that come to mind, then have them choose their favorite 2-3 ideas and share them with their group.

Sketch it out: 
1) Bring everyone back together and explain that it’s time to create their prototype. Describe the process first, then model with an example idea.
2) Participants should pick one idea they like and sketch it out. Their sketch should include: 
               ▪ Goal: How do you want someone to feel or react when they see your invention?
               ▪ What does it do? How does your invention react when someone interacts with it? (e.g. does a sound or light turn on? Does it move?)
               ▪ What does it look like? Is it frightening, covert, mystical? Draw it!
               ▪ How will you build it? What materials do you need? What steps will you take to make it?

Share it out:
1) Each person should share out their sketch in small groups to receive feedback. We like using the Glow, Grow, Question, Idea feedback protocol. It helps if you model this with one group first for the rest to observe:
2) Glow, Grow, Question, Idea Protocol: Explain that it's important to structure feedback sessions in order to keep it constructive and focused. This is a quick and simple way to have participants get feedback on their project or ideas. Being able to give and receive feedback is key to developing collaboration skills, so we want to focus on having participants practice it regularly.
               ▪ Glow - What do you like about it? What works? What makes it exciting and cool?
               ▪ Grow - What could be changed to make it better? What are some of the problem areas?
               ▪ Question - Are their any clarifying or probing questions?
               ▪ Idea - Do you have ideas of ways to make it better?

3) After sharing their ideas, the group should choose one design to create. Or even better, they could mash-up all of their ideas into one! 

PROTOTYPE (15 min)
Build the circuit.
1) Have participants prototype the circuit they'll feature in their movie. Remind them of the end goal (the spooky short film) and encourage them to think about their favorite scary stories or movies.
2) Explain: It's easier to make sure the basic interaction works first, then we can adapt it later to fit the materials or setting.
3) Show some examples of bit recipes:
               ▪ Novice: Sound activated ghost = Power + sound trigger + bright LED 
               ▪ Apprentice: Moving Halloween Bats = Power + MotionTrigger + TimeOut + Servo Motor
               ▪ Senior: Creepy RC Car = (Power + split + slide dimmer (2) + w22 Wireless transmitter) + (Power + w21 Wireless receiver + o25 dc motor + wheels) + fake hand
               ▪ Master: Alien Rotolamp = Power (2) + slide dimmer (2) + wire + split + w22 Wireless transmitter + w21 wireless receiver + o25 dc motor + bargraph


1) How do you know if your spooky circuit is meeting your goal - if it's the right level of scary, mystical, or boooo-tiful? You playtest it!  
               ▪ Explain: Playtesting means we put our creations in front of other people to get feedback so we can make it even better. (Remember what we did with our sketches earlier?)
2) Divide the small groups into playtesting partners. Each group should playtest their circuit and the other group should give feedback (try the GGQI protocol again), then switch. Facilitators should rotate and provide feedback as well.


1) Using the feedback they just received, participants will use their inventions to film a scary movie.
2) Each group should create a storyboard or shot list that addresses the following:
               ▪ Plot: What is the sequence of events?
               ▪ Setting: Where and when does the story take place?
               ▪ Characters: Who are the lead (or supporting characters)? Who is the protagonist and antagonist?
               ▪ Conflict: What is problem the protagonist encounters?


1) Build the set.  
               ▪ Pay attention to lighting and prop placement for perfect spooky effects.
2) Grab a camera and go to it! Here are some helpful resources for getting just the right shot.
               ▪ Shot types
               ▪ Camera Angles
3) Level up: Use film editing software such as iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker for PC to combine your shots into a coherent story.
4) See below for more Tips, Tricks, and Resources!

UPLOAD (5 min)
1) Once participants have completed their films, upload them to YouTube, then share them on the littleBits Invention Platform or using the littleBits Invention App.

CELEBRATE! (20 min)
1) Hold a mini-film festival!
3) Set up the projects and hold a special event to showcase the films. You can do it during the lesson or you can make it extra special by inviting friends and family to a special Hack Your Halloween screening!
3) Don’t forget to include filmmaker Q+A at the end!