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Makey Makey Game Controller Challenge

By Teacher Librarian Colleen Graves

Appropriate for Grade Levels 5th to HS

Wanna get your whole school involved in coding and game creation? Maybe even challenge another school and host a maker faire? Connect with others by starting a #makeymakeychallenge and start building your maker community.

Lesson Objectives

  • Introduce the TMI Design process from Invent to Learn - Think Make Improve
  • Design and create a video game in Scratch
  • Create an interactive game controller to control the student made game
  • Engage students in innovation and creation
  • Entice students to create with technology rather than just consume it

Designed in Canva by Colleen Graves

Lesson Steps

Note: You will have to teach your students the basics in Scratch before beginning this lesson. Once students have mastered a chasing game or maze game, introduce the concept of the Makey Makey.

DAY 1: Invitation to Innovate

  1. Set out a computer, a Makey Makey and a box of conductive and nonconductive items for each small group.
  2. Share the Makey Makey page and basic how to
  3. Direct students to open one of the games on the how to page.
  4. Help students connect alligator clips to Makey Makey and some conductive items.
  5. Let students play and test out different materials.

DAY 2-3: Storyboard and Design Sketches (Think)

  1. Now that the students are familiar with the Makey Makey, have them create storyboards for a game they would like to design in Scratch.
  2. Students should also begin to sketch ideas for their controller, but don't worry if they aren't ready to do this, it might change as they create their games.
  3. Have small groups discuss game and controller plans. Do the other students think the game sounds playable? Do they have different ideas on how to control the game? Pair up students to collaborate if needed or desired. You may have some students who only want to create the game and some who only want to make a controller. That's okay! Pair them up!

DAY 4-5: Create Games in Scratch and Build Controllers (Make)

Note: Your students may prefer to create the game and the controller simultaneously or separately- all that matters is that the concepts are held together with a common theme.

  1. Give students time to create games in Scratch.
  2. Bring in boxes and boxes of scrap and junk for students to tinker with. See if you can get some old electronics donated. Let students take things apart and use the old electronics for their game controllers. Also, give them a project shelf to store their creations over the course of your design challenge.

While you have students creating games in Scratch, demo some of the different ways a Makey Makey can control a game somewhere in your room. Create a graphite drawing that controls a Scratch Piano, or make a Playdoh sculpture that resembles Tetris. Be imaginative and show the kids that adults can tinker too!

DAY 6: Share student games and ideas with Experts for feedback (Improve)

Find an expert like another class who has completed the challenge, or a group in a makerspace with Makey Makey experience to conference with. Ask them to chat with your students. Let your students share ideas about their creations and gather feedback from the experts. This chat should help to, in the words of Jay Silver, "instill creative confidence"  in your young makers.

DAY 7: Set up Game Installations (Make/Improve)

  1. Have students set up games and controllers in a gallery setting like the library.
  2. Give them clipboards and feedback sheets and allow them to try each other's controllers games and list some "I think" and "I wonder" statements about each game they try.
  3. Allow students to read feedback and improve controllers as necessary.

(Before Challenge) (During Challenge- Embrace the mess!)

DAY 8: Set up a Mini Maker Faire and invite community to participate!

Once games and controllers are finished, invite the community to your Makey Makey Maker faire! If you can, share your student products on social media and have them launch another classroom's Makey Makey Game Controller Challenge!

Lesson based on our #MakeyMakeyChallenge with Diana Rendina.

Videos from Wellington Elementary:


Note on Standards

These lessons were developed with the idea that teachers all over the globe and a variety of grade levels could hack the lesson plan to meet their students' needs. Therefore, these are just some of the standards the lessons are based on, and not an all-inclusive list. Many of the CCSS align by grade level, so if you teach 9th grade, you could find the stair-stepped standard for CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 by looking at CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6.

Common Core

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3: Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.


3-PS2-3: Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.

4-PS3-2: Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

HS-PS3-3: Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.

Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World.

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