What is a Makey Makey?
If you clicked the article, there’s a good chance you fall into one of two camps:
- You know exactly what a Makey Makey is and want to find some interesting ideas on how to incorporate it in your classroom.
- You have no idea what a Makey Makey is but were curious enough to click.
Both camps are my type of people. Either you’ve discovered just how great Makey Makeys are as a tool for teaching children electronics and programming basics; or you’re the type of person who loves learning (and presumably trying) new things.
Makey Makeys are quite simply invention kits that can turn any object into a touchpad / keyboard. It can be used for a variety of applications ranging from art to engineering.
In perhaps the most frequently used example, Makey Makey + Bananas = Banana Piano:
To provide a quick explanation before getting into other applications, it works like this:
- You connect alligator clips from the bananas to the Makey Makey which is also connected to a computing device via a USB cord (note: one of these wires would be connected to an object, perhaps a banana as well, that serves as ground)
- You use a program on the computing device that receives keyboard inputs (in this example, the program simulates a basic piano) to perform an action (e.g., the up arrow plays a piano note)
- Hold the ground object, press a banana, and make music.
And now for the main attraction…
13 Classroom Activities Using Makey Makeys
- Yes, you should definitely use the banana piano example in your classroom. In my experience, it is by far one of the most enjoyable experiences for children and random strangers.
- Take Lamar Library’s lead and make an interactive display in your classroom.
— Lamar Library (@lamar_library) January 29, 2016
- And, in fact, you can make 5 day lesson plan out of it using Teaching Forward’s example.
- Want to host a quiz bowl style competition during test review but don’t own buzzers? Then, you can use the Makey Makey to create your own. And, you can even use it to create a fun scorecard.
- It’s no secret that kids (and let’s be honest, many adults too) love video games. So, what better way to get them engaged than to have them design their own video game controller. Educade has a videogame controller design lesson plan laid out for you. And they include several fun videos as well.
- Use Soundplant (free download) audio software to configure each key with it’s own unique sound. Then set up water cups (or bananas again!) for musical fun.
- Or, you can use it as a final project in a music class.
- It can be used to design interactive learning tools like this one for pre-school children and prepositions:
- Or the digestive system.
— Liane Rae (@lianemrae) February 2, 2017
- You can also use the Makey Makey to teach about conductive materials. Conductive materials allow the Makey Makey to function. Non-conductive does not. Simple but may be an effective visual and hands-on approach.
- And, similarly, Makey Makeys are built entirely on circuit principles. It can be used to explain the basics of ground. One of my favorite demonstrations is running the ground wire from the Makey Makey to literal ground. And, then, depending on footwear (or lack of), people can interact without even actually having to specifically hold on a grounded object.
- Set up a photo booth in your classroom. Excuse the cheesiness!
- Students giving a presentation in class? Have them use the Makey Makey to replace the space bar (key used to advance slides in PowerPoint) with an object that somehow connects to their presentation. The multimodality can be used to enhance the presentation. For example, if you’re talking about the advantages of water vs. soda, then the student can drink from a water bottle throughout the presentation. And each sip advances the slide!
I have referenced her work once on this list, but you should absolutely take a look at Colleen Graves lesson plans over at Makey Makey’s site as well.