Thrifting, Repurposing, and Frustrations

For my CEP 811 class this week we were challenged to repurpose things that we found in a thrift store, or had lying around the house into something that we could use in our class using our “Maker Kits”.  For my Maker Kit this semester I have decided to use MaKey MaKey.

MaKey MaKey retails for $50 and can be ordered directly from their website. Back to MaKey MaKey. MaKey MaKey allows you to repurpose objects to be interactive with your computer through the completion of a simple circuit.

Makey Makey

When I first got my MaKey MaKey I was excited to unwrap it and have the chance to play with it. I had heard of them before, but never thought that I would have the chance to use one. Much to my disappointment, my MaKey MaKey was defective. The people at Joy Labz were very helpful. They spent about a week troubleshooting with me by going back and forth over email. Upon determining that I had a faulty board they sent me a new one free of charge. I only had to pay the $5 shipping cost. Excellent customer service!

You could turn fruits and vegetables into a keyboard, draw an interactive keypad with a pencil, use PlayDough, along with pretty much any other objects that are slightly conductive. In thinking about using this tool, I began thinking about how I might incorporate its use into a World Language Classroom.

The way that I want to use it as vocabulary reinforcement. I would like to have my students make games using a MaKey MaKey and a program called Scratch. Ultimately, the game will have them identifying vocabulary words (think foods, body parts, classroom objects, etc.) By having them touch the vocabulary object that is connected to the circuit as can be seen in the video below.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 6.35.36 PM

For this prototype I have chosen to use two different foods that I had around my house: an apple and a banana. In my first endeavor with Scratch I had to create two different sprites to represent my apple and banana, and program them with what I want them to say when their corresponding fruit which is hooked up to the MaKey MaKey is touched. For the apple, when touched it will say “La manzana” and the banana will say “El plátano”.

Setting up the prototype:

  1. Connect a lead to earth. This needs to be touching you for the MaKey MaKey to work.
  2. Connect one lead to your apple, and the other end to your MaKey MaKey. Connect it to the part of the keyboard that you wanted it to represent. I chose the up arrow.
  3. Connect your banana to the MaKey MaKey. For the banana I connected it to the down arrow.

Setting up Scratch:

  1. Setting a backdrop: Click on new backdrop in the bottom left corner in order to set whatever background you want.
  2. Creating a sprite:
    1. Delete the original sprite by clicking on it and pressing backspace/delete.
    2. To create a new sprite click on new sprite and select the icon that you desire, in this case an apple.
    3. Repeat this process to create your banana sprite.
    4. To make it “speak” when clicked go into the events tab under scripts and drag the “when _____ key is pressed” bubble to the right.
    5. Go into the looks menu and drag the “say ______” bubble to the right and attach it to the “when ______ key is pressed” bubble.
    6. Repeat this process for your banana.

Enjoy! I am really excited by this and what I will be able to have my students do using a MaKey MaKey and scratch. Check back for a future post on my Maker Lesson Plan.

Note: The photo and my video add meaning to my post by showing the MaKey MaKey working in conjunction with the fruits and Scratch when they are touched. The photo was added because after several video attempts things just weren’t as clear or as visual as I wanted them to be.



One comment

  1. I love your idea about using the MakeyMakey for vocabulary purposes! What grade do you teach? I’m currently using my MakeyMakey for math fluency practice, which is using kinesthetics to control the math practice games. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with for your vocabulary though! I really want to try something similar.


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