Making and Literacy Guide for Doll-E 1.0

When I started at JoyLabz in July, Doll- E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey was still a fairly new release.

This adorable picture book, is about a tech savvy young girl named Charlotte who is given a doll by her parents and she’s unsure at first about what to do with it.

Throughout the book, we see Makey Makey references. In one scene, the dog is even playing a banana piano! (And correctly grounded!)

So I knew I needed to make a guide that coincided with this great little book. (Have I mentioned about much I love combining making and literacy? I love designing maker activities that coincide with great books. Check out this wind tunnel activity based on Rosie Revere Engineer!)

The first thing I thought of after reading this book, was how fun it would be to hand kids a box of spare parts and let them create a doll or a robot. One of my favorite easy maker projects last year was handing 2nd graders junk in paper bag to make robots. (Thank you, Angie O’Malley for the idea!)

But I wanted to kick it up a notch and have them create something they could connect to Makey Makey AND Scratch.  In the book, Charlotte attempts to increase her doll’s database, and this made me think back to a workshop I led in San Angelo this summer. During this advanced maker ed workshop I had teachers take apart toys and re-make them after exploring microcontrollers.

One thing I always focus on during a workshop is “invention literacy” or the ability to look at how things work and make new things.

So during this workshop something one of my participants said stuck with me. I showed these ladies how they could create multiple sound effects by creating variables in Scratch. This would allow them to make multiple sounds on just one button press. After showing them how it worked, one of the teachers said, “Oh! So this is how my granddaughter’s doll works?!”

It was a great a-ha moment for both of us. It helped me reaffirm that one of the best ways to learn how something works is to take it apart, and that another way to become more fluent in invention is to try and create your own version of an invention! (How do we guide kids to think, “Oh, this is how a talking doll works, now can I make my own?”)

Based on the book, I thought it would be good for students (and makers of all ages) to build their own creation and give it a voice.

So I handed my own girls a pile of junk and said, “Make something!”

They made very different creations!

If you want to see how my girls got their creations to talk or you want to make your own talking toy- The full guide for Doll-E 1.0 is now available in Labz!

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Makey Makey Madness

Join the (3)

Since I started at JoyLabz creating content, I’ve been super busy! I wanted to post some of the resources I’ve made.

Gigantic Makey Makey

One of my most favorite things I’ve made in the last month is this gigantic playable Makey Makey.  I can’t believe I never thought to make one before! I saw an example by Jen Gilbert at ISTE and another on the Makey Makey Educators Facebook group by Jason Quail of Amazeum. I just knew this had to be my first tutorial now that I’m part of the Joy Labz team. Find the Instructables here.

Controlling a Mouse Click in Scratch

This was a quick and short tutorial in controlling a mouse click in Scratch! The full guide is here.

Simple Circuits Challenge – Updated

I’ve learned a lot about electronics and circuits since I wrote the lessons for Makey Makey in 2015. So I’ve decided to update each lesson. It was really fun to update this simple circuit lesson and think about how I can push students and teachers to get inventive with materials.

Kid Friendly Alligator Clips

I’ve been sitting on this idea for awhile! It was fun to share this simple hack about how to make a kid-friendly alligator clip with a clothespin.

All ya need is a clothespin and some conductive tape!

Hack #1: Here is the full video of how to make one.

Hack #2: This hack uses a clothespin to make a conductivity tester. You actually wire EARTH and a key press on one clothespin for this one. The full lesson idea is in Labz and includes a Scratch game and both clothespin hacks.

Micro:bit and Makey Makey

I always think mashing up resources makes more sense than choosing one over the other. So I decided to challenge myself to use Micro:bit and Makey Makey together. Thanks to Scratch 3, I was able to control the Micro:bit with Makey Makey and bananas !

Getting started with Physical Computing

Last but most definitely not least! I was able to spend an hour with my good buddy Mark Schreiber talking about physical computing. I ended up writing one massive blog post of resources. You can find that here.

What’s next?

I’ve been working on a lot! But will always take suggestions and make your suggestions if it makes sense! What Makey Makey resources are you wishing for?