Makey Makey Workshop for #SanAngeloMakers

Wanda Green of The Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo invited me out to lead teachers and librarians through the Makey Makey Invention Literacy workshop this summer.

It was a fun day of great learning! Check out the day of learning below. (Note: This is a workshop I facilitate that was designed by Tom Heck. I change things up a little bit, but this amazing workshop and design challenge was designed by Tom!)

Giant Paper Circuits and Switches

We started the day with hands-on learning about circuits and switches. Teachers were excited to learn how to make a simple circuit and construct their own switch out of everyday materials. I like teaching teachers about circuits BEFORE opening up Makey Makey for the first time. After completing circuits with switches, teachers examine Makey Makey, plug it in, and play Makey Makey piano and bongos, etc.

Coding Visuals for Storytelling

After playing  around with the Makey Makey apps, I challenged the attendees to draw their circuits.

I love mashing up literacy and making, so for their first experience combining Makey Makey with Scratch, I ask them to draw four visuals to tell a story (or to retell a story).

After a quick tour of Scratch, they recorded their voices and made their drawings interactive by creating events in Scratch.


For the last half of the day, teachers are challenged to work together to use Design Thinking and solve a real problem they have.

I just love how a good design challenge encourages collaboration and engagement. Plus, by working with recyclables, learners are able to easily see trash become treasure with this everyday prototyping tool.

Design Challenge

Here are some unique challenges from librarians and teachers and the solutions they created using Makey Makey and Scratch!

Problem One: Patrons need to sign a waiver when they enter the makerspace.

Solution: Create a sock puppet to remind someone to sign a waiver as they pick up the pencil to sign in.

Problem Two: Teen librarians find it difficult to get teenagers to play games well collaboratively.

Solution Two: Build a unique game controller system and a game that requires teens to play together in order to win the game.

Problem Three: A child forgets to take medicine before leaving for school.

Solution: Create an alarm that reminds the child to take medicine and detach the alarm from their backpack as they leave for the school day.

Problem Four: Little learners have trouble finding Ctrl Alt Delete AND remembering their user names and passwords.

Solution: Create an interactive display that helps them find Ctrl Alt Delete and helps them with user name and password.

Problem Five: Books are being misshelved in the library.

Solution: Create a system to put books on the shelf in the right way. Use Scratch to tell what title the book is as it is pulled off the shelf, and create a switch that is only pressed when the right book is put on the shelf.


Review: Wonder Workshop Dash Sketch Kit (14)

Dash Robot in #bigmakerbook

In 2016 when we began writing our #bigmakerbook, Aaron and I included the Dash robot for our programming section. This awesome quirky robot is a great robot for beginning to code/program directions. (I also did an extensive robot comparison chart comparing Sphero/Dash/Ozobot.)

In our makerspace project book, Aaron and I used Dash to teach kids how to code an equilateral triangle and even program a dance party with other robot friends. One thing I love about Dash that is different from Sphero is that Dash has a very obvious front and back which helps when tinkering and adjusting code in attempts at driving straight lines and turning tight corners.

Sketch Kit

So I was pretty stoked to try out the new sketch kit from Wonder Workshop. This kit comes with a harness for Dash so you can attach a marker to it. Something pretty ingenious about the harness it that with the movement of Dash’s head, you can place the marker down for drawing, or bring it back up so it can drive to a new spot before laying down tracks. This means our projects from the book, can now be updated for students to attempt drawing different types of triangles, rather than trying to drive Dash on a pre-made track.

The sketch kit contains:

  • 1 marker harness
  • 6 custom dry-erase markers (red, blue, green, orange, purple, black)
  • 6 project cards

The whiteboard mat does not come with the sketch kit, but is offered at a separate price point.


The programming for this kit is integrated into the existing Blockly app. It’s fairly easy to try out pre-existing drawings, but it’s always more fun to draw your own shapes.

Some of the existing drawings need the code tinkered with to be more precise, but that’s always a good computational tinkering challenge.

If you haven’t used the Blockly app, it is similar to the popular kid-friendly programming platforms Scratch and MakeCode. It uses color palettes to differentiate types of code like Drive, Lights, Control, etc.


At $40 bucks, the sketch kit is at a decent price for adding to your existing Dash and Dot robots. The whiteboard mat is really cool, but at $100 bucks libraries and schools may not be able to afford this mat alongside the sketch kit. Also, it is quite heavy, so it’s difficult to roll up and store. (One of my students folded it in half the other day and almost completely ruined it!) If you are worried about cost, use an old white board or pick up some showerboard from Home Depot.

If you can order directly from Wonder Workshop, you can get the sketch pack (with whiteboard mat included) for $129.

Bottom Line

The sketch kit is a super cool addition to your Dash and Dot robots. If you and your students like using the launcher and xylophone, you’ll enjoy the sketch pack and seeing math mesh with art right before your eyes!

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Note: I was not paid to write this post, but I did receive the sketch pack from Wonder Workshop for review purposes.