Beginning your Makey Makey Classroom


  The last month, many readers have started using my various Tech Smashes and Makey Makey ideas to create their own with great success. However, I have received several emails and Twitter posts from educators who are on the fence or are not sure where to start with their Makey Makey. Well, I’m here today to tell you some beginning steps and projects to get you started on your Marker Space. First of all, a Makey Makey is going to cost you from $45-$50 depending if you order it from the Makey Makey website or from Amazon or EBay. I recommend both Amazon and Makey since you will receive a brand new Makey Makey without problem. I am not discouraging EBay as I know two teachers who bought theirs at half the price and have been using it for projects and lessons for months. Now, how can you introduce your class to Makey Makey? I’m going to take a page out of Teaching like a Pirate and tell you.

1.  On the first day you are going to use your Makey Makey, have a small can of play-dog waiting at your students’ desks when they walk in with a large piece of people that reads: “Do not open until told to.” “Then underneath it right: “Also, think about your favorite video game in the mean time.” When it comes time for the lesson, ask the students if they have thought about their favorite video games. When they answer, tell them to turn the piece of paper over and with a pencil draw their game controller for their favorite game and then use the play-doh to create the buttons like on their controller. Once they have completed this, take out the Makey Makey. Have an already made controller you created for your favorite game and then go to your computer and bring it up. Plug in the alligator clips to the play-doh and of course use the “earth” clip either in your hand or a wearable bracelet and show the students your playing skills. I’ll guarantee they will be amazed. 

   For the next part call one your students over and plug in their controller but make sure you don’t use the earth clip. When they see it doesn’t work, ask why it probably didn’t and see if the student will notice that you didn’t plug in the last clip to yourself. If they answer it, then explain about how you have to be “grounded” to complete a circuit connection. This is a great science lesson besides creativity creation. After that have the student create a bracelet either out of play-doh they have left over or from tin foil and then have them each connect their controller to the Makey Makey and play for a small bit. See who is the most inventive or who is the best player out of the group. Fun and simple first lesson.

2. For my next opening project, I’m going to use a previous post about students creating their own computer or iPad and making it operate with the Makey Makey. You can read about the entire project here.

3. One of the classic and a personal favorite of mine is the Makey Makey Banana Piano. You can take a bunch of bananas and set them up like a real keyboard and then clip each piece and plug it in to either the main playing program at Makey or use Scratch online to set up the coding. This is a great simple Makey Makey project that you can set up quickly and easily and is a great way to teach coding. You can see it all in action right here.

4. Now, here is a project I love with the Makey Makey and we are doing it this fall, “What is a conductor?” Its a pretty simple way to teach students the difference between a conductive item and a non-conductive item. There are several ways to prove this with the Makey Makey. The first is the “cat photo booth project”, if you are asking what that is, its pretty simple, lay down a bowl of water and a mat made out of tin foil and plug your Makey Makey into your computer that is set with Photo Booth if you have a Mac or related snap shot program if you have a PC. The cat comes to take a drink of water from the bowl and by connecting to the tin foil and then drinking the water, completes the connection and a snap shot is taken by the computer. Have a set of items from play-doh to a stalk of sunflowers and set up the basic programs from Makey and see what causes the Makey Makey to work with the snap shots on the computer or tablet device if you have a USB adaptor. How fast can it take a picture? What else can the item do besides get the camera to take a picture? Its a great exploration lesson with STEM.

5. My last one I’m going to talk about is being creative, there are hundreds of Makey Makey projects for beginners to advance. Head over to Youtube or Vimeo or look on Twitter with the hashtag #MakeyMakey. There are so many projects and assignments out there that it will fuel your creativity. I’m finding more and more each day or coming up with great ideas to use the Makey Makey. The limits of endless when it comes to using a Makey Makey in the classroom. Get started today and Build your Maker Space.


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