Makey Makey

I decided to recycle a post from early 2016. Scratch has changed, but the experience is the same. If you are looking for a fun activity with an elementary aged child, try this…


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I recently got the Makey Makey out of the drawer to teach my 8 year old how to program using Scratch. She has had some experience using Blockly with her Dash robot by Wonder Workshop. She has also used Scratch Jr. for the iPad, but this is the first time programming for herself.

The program was simple, but the impact was great.

The program used the “when a key is pressed” event to play a note. Each key played a note in a song from my daughter’s song book she uses for her piano lessons. She had to know the keys and read the music just like when playing the piano. We wired the Makey Makey to match the program. She had to change the half notes (0.5 beat) to quarter notes (0.25 beat). That gave us the opportunity to talk about fractions and decimals.

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When using the Makey Makey, you have to connect yourself to complete the circuit. This gave us the opportunity to talk about electrical circuits and why our large piano works.

We also had a problem solving opportunity. Two of the “keys” had aluminum foil touching. This made two notes play at once. We talked about why the aluminum works to conduct electricity and how the tape and cardboard kept the electricity from one key from connecting to another.

To finish our programming, she got to play her song and others. This was a quick 30 minute activity, but we both had a blast and she learned a great deal.

Start with Scratch

When starting off integrating computer science into your classroom you have lots of choices. I don’t think there is any better place to start than Scratch.

I like Scratch because it allows students to be creative. Because you can do so many things with Scratch, students can grow and grow and grow. Unlike many other entry level coding apps and programs, Scratch can be used at a very young age, but also can be used in the high school setting. Actually, Scratch is an approved program to be utilized in the AP Computer Science Principles course. I also suggest Scratch because it works great on a Chromebook, which many schools are using due to the low cost of the device.

I have personally used Scratch with 7 year olds and they did a fantastic job animating and telling cute stories. I use Scratch with my seventh graders. I ask them to be way more elaborate in their stories. I also teach students to create video games in Scratch.

No matter what subject or grade you teach, Scratch is a great tool. If you would like some professional development on Scratch, I am offering a mini course through Kent State University starting on February 10. It is a two week course and earns one CEU. The cost is $50. If your interested, either contact me or keep checking Twitter. I’ll post on Twitter as soon as the registration is open.

It’s time to take the first step

Many times in life we don’t start something because the problem is too big and fear of failure keeps us from trying. The same goes for integrating computer science into the classroom.

Lots of teachers don’t know where to start. Many don’t feel confident and comfortable with coding, especially elementary teachers.

I’m here to tell you to start with the first step. Don’t worry about getting to the top. Just focus on the first step. That’s what I did.

For the beginner, no matter what grade you teach, I would suggest you start with Scratch. Scratch is a block based programming application that is free and works on EVERYTHING! Scratch 3.0 works on Windows, Mac, Chromebook and tablets. (It also works on smart phones, but the screen is a bit small.) You can do so much with Scratch. That makes it easy to integrate into the classroom.

Do you need some integration ideas? Hit me up!

So, take that first step!