Thrifting: MakeyMakey Kit Style

This week was a little tough for me.  The activity for the week required a lot of creativity and I have discovered that creativity is easier to tap into during summer vacation, than it is while teaching.  As I worked through the Learn and Explore activities for the week I was able to come up with an idea for this weeks project, but it was TOUGH mentally.

This week we were suppose to play with our maker kit.  I chose the Makey Makey kit and was initially pretty excited about the fun I could have with it.  My niece, nephew and some of their friends eat lunch in my room on a regular basis.  I showed them the video from the MakeyMakey website and they were immediately interested.  I could see the hook for students.  In fact, my school site has an “Arts for All” day.  I was talking with one of my administrators about the Makey Makey kit and his face lit up.  He asked me to run a booth at the event because their goal is to take the event from an observer model to a maker experience.  I am very excited at this opportunity and I think the kids are going to really like it.  Plus, maybe it will mean the school will foot the bill for a few more kits I can use in my classroom!  WIN!! WIN!!

However, this weeks assignment was not just about playing with the kit.  We also had to consider a lesson plan that would tie to our curriculum.  It is this aspect of the week that I found most challenging.  Most of the websites I saw connecting to the kit were musical or video game in nature.  I had a hard time thinking of a way to tie that to high school English curriculum.  In particular, this semester we are reading The Odyssey, by Homer.  This week, the Explore section of the homework was the thing that saved me.  I spent a lot of time researching how other people had used the kit in hopes that some ideas would pop up.

Thankfully, some inspiration did strike and I was able to get down to business. This blog Toys are Tools and an accompanying video showed a child using Playdoh to play an “Operation” type board game.  It was from this idea that I came up with the idea for my lesson plan.  After we finish reading The Odyssey, I will task students with making a board game style game to depict Odysseus’ long and obstacle filled journey home from Troy.  It was with this idea in mind that I turned to the “thrifting” portion of my assignment.

I started the hunt to re-purpose in my classroom.  As I opened and closed cupboards I remembered that I had a bunch of old board games that I NEVER use anymore.  I can use the boards from those as a base for my students’ projects.  As I thought about how they could incorporate the Makey Makey kit I imagined both aluminum foil and Play-Doh as options.  I found a roll of foil in one of my drawers (I have been in the same room too long!) that would work for this first prototype.  For the game pieces and obstacles I knew my nephew’s room would hold the key.  He is, by nature, a maker and I was not disappointed.  He willingly loaned me his HUGE tub of Legos.  With these tools in hand I sat down to begin crafting my prototype.

How-To-Guide: Making an Odysseus’ Journey game, MakeyMakey Kit Style 

  1. Find some old materials:
    1. Old Board game board
    2. Legos
  2. Collect some other materials:
    1. Aluminum Foil
    2. Tape
    3. White paper
    4. Scissors
    5. pencil
    6. Map of Odysseus’ journey
    7. MakeyMakey Kit
    8. Computer
  3. Measure and cut the white paper so that it covers the old game board.
  4. Draw out the map of Odysseus’ journey.
  5. IMG_5987Cut small pieces of aluminum foil and fold it so that it can be taped to the board and hold the alligator clip.
  6. Attach the aluminum foil to the game board with tape.
  7. IMG_5988Attach one alligator clip to each piece of aluminum foil.
  8. Attach the other end of each clip to one of the letter spots on the Makey Makey kit.
  9. IMG_5991Plug the small end of the USB cord into the MakeyMakey kit.
  10. Plug the USB into the computer.IMG_5992
  11. Load the following DrumKit website on your computer’s browser.
  12.  Use Legos to build a ship for Odysseus.  Wrap the bottom of the ship in aluminum foil.
  13. Attach one wire to the foil wrapped game piece.
  14. Attach the other end of the wire to the Earth section of the MakeyMakey Kit.IMG_5995
  15. Help Odysseus navigate the game board without landing on the obstacles.  Beware: If you land on the obstacle you will cause the drum kit to make noise!

Check out the video of how I made the game board below:


Incorporating the MakeyMakey kit into this assignment will give the students some auditory feedback for the game they are going to create.  By creating a game board of Odysseus’ journey they will be demonstrating an understanding of the plot of the story.  I will be looking for originality in how they design their game board and build the obstacles.  My prototype is a very crude rendition and only one way they could incorporate the kit in their design.  The students will have an opportunity to show off their 4 C’s, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity as they work on their projects.

This blog post is filled with images and videos, making it multimodal.  Images and video footage give more meaning to the text, which is valuable when describing something that many people have never seen before.  In addition, combining the MakeyMakey kit with the board game gives an auditory experience, making it richer for the students.


Choi, J. (2014). Playdough Operation game using MaKey MaKey. Retrieved from

McHorney, D. (2014). MakeyMakey Kit. Retrieved from

Toys are Tools. (2014). Review and Giveaway: MaKey MaKey: Think Less, Create More [blog post]. Retrieved from


This entry was posted in CEP 811, MAET. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thrifting: MakeyMakey Kit Style

  1. rthampi says:

    Hi Debbie. First of all, I wanted to share that the multimodal elements in your blog post were excellent! In particular, I thought that the video you created to capture the learning experience was amazing. I was really impressed by the camera angles, the voiceover, the transitions, the pace and the overall video editing! I now feel motivated to take some video production lessons myself 🙂

    I completely agree with you that the hardest part of this activity was creating a lesson plan for the Maker kit. It’s one thing to simply experiment with the kit and another to create a meaningful educational experience for the students. But I like how you did not venture too far and simply devised a lesson based on what your students were reading in class. Also, I’m sure that allowing your students to create their own rendition of Odysseus’ journey will be a very enriching learning engagement. I would be interested to hear what your students come up with! Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thank you for the kind words. I used iMovie on my Mac to edit this video. Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I shot the footage on my Canon T3i and a tripod. I definitely enjoy doing those kinds of projects. iMovie is not too hard to learn. You should try it!

  2. greeni13 says:

    Deebie, I really like your idea of linking your makey makey to a map. I teach Social Studies and my brain is going a mile a minute trying to figure out how I could implement this idea into my own classroom. I too, really liked your video and was impressed with how professional it looked. This truly is an inspiration to me and I think you did a great job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s