How to make: Pop up paper circuit cards


I created a basic lightbulb shape but depending on the age/level of learner this activity can be adapted in the following ways:


  • Use a range of pre printed or pre-cut designs


  • Learners could create their own designs or be challenged to turn binary code into a picture
  • More than one LED could be connected however ensure they are connected in parallel not series
  • Design your own paper battery holder to make sure the battery is secure

Remember to warn students of the dangers of cell batteries, to be careful when handling and wash hands after touching.

What we're learning

arrow_forward Electricity moves in a circuit from the negative to the positive side.

arrow_forward Electricity will only move through materials that are conductive.

arrow_forward LEDs and batteries have a positive and a negative side. This is called polarity.

arrow_forward When a negative and positive path touch it creates a short circuit, this means the circuit will not work.

arrow_forward How to plan out an image from a grid using measurement.



Coloured Card

Copper tape





Cell Batteries

Lets do this


Transfer your design to card.  I chose a 1cm grid with the main fold 2cm up from the last square.

Once your grid is ruled up, darken the outline of your design. Cross hatch the horizontal fold line at the bottom of your design.  Remember not to cut this!



Measure 2cm up from each of the top lines of your design (in red pen below). This gives you the 3d effect.

Cross hatch the top of each horizontal fold line at the top of your design.

Using a craft knife cut out the design – avoiding any fold lines marked with cross hatching.



Fold the card along the main fold line to pop out the design.  You may need to go over some cut lines to make sure they are cut correctly.




Get your LED and bend out the legs so that it sits flat to the card.

Mark out where the copper tape needs to go.  These will be your positive and negative traces.  Make sure they do not cross over or touch, each needs to go from one side of the LED to the same side of the battery positive to positive and negative to negative.



If you are designing your own battery holder you will need to prototype how to get it to connect up with the copper tape traces. Use scrap paper and test with your cell battery.


Peel 1cm of backing off the copper tape and slowly push down onto the card.

If you are wanting to do a corner fold the tape the OPPOSITE way first and then fold it back on itself to go the correct way.

Only the shiny side of the tape is conductive not the sticky so you will always want the shiny to be touching the shiny for a continuous flow of electricity in your circuit.



Continue to follow your pencil line and then extend the line at the bottom of the card.

This line will become your switch to turn the LED on.



If the tape gets cut or rips between the LED and the battery it creates a break in your circuit and it will not work. Add an extra piece over the top folding the ends on themselves so the shiny side is touching the shiny side of your line.


Take the card battery holder and glue or tape it to the bottom of your design.

Using copper tape make the other trace.  When you get to the bottom of the design continue the tape over the top of the battery holder (following the arrow).  This needs to be one continuous line of copper tape from the LED to the battery holder.

Take an extra piece of copper tape and add it to the LEFT side of the card battery holder.

Add your cell battery to the middle of the battery holder, fold the right side over and slide through the long tab.  Fold up the last tab and tuck it over the top of the battery.



Add your LED over the top of the copper tape traces, push down and check it lights up. If it doesn’t turn the LED around.

Stick it down securely with two small pieces of tape.



When you push down on the long tab it will create a switch closing your circuit and lighting up your LED.



Trouble shooting

If the LED does not light up:

  • Take it off the card and check it lights up with another battery.  If not it may be dead if it does then check the battery in the holder the same way
  • Check there are no rips or tears in your copper tape traces.  If there is add a piece of copper tape over the top.  Make sure to turn the ends back on itself so that the shiny sides are touching
  • Check the battery holder to make sure that your traces are matching up.