Resource: Hacking Poetry with Makey Makey

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Last spring I hacked poetry month with pencil drawings, Scratch Programming, and Makey Makey. Then this fall for the SLJ Summit, Aaron and I led a few brave librarians through the process of hacking poetry with Makey Makey. What I love about this activity, is that by having students visualize poetry with drawings, they think deeper about the poetry. But even better, by having to record their own reading of the poem in Scratch, students actually spend quality time reading and re-reading poetry lines and begin to correctly intonate words and phrases to portray the poem’s mood. I taught ELA for almost a decade and rarely saw students recite poetry with such enthusiasm! I think that by recording their voice in Scratch, and playing that reading through their own drawings, this process makes students want to attempt to add the right pausing and inflections.


Today I thought I’d consolidate those posts and share a challenge sheet so you can try this in your own library makerspace or classroom!

  • Makey Makey Hacked Poetry Post One
  • Makey Makey Hacked Poetry Post Two
  • Makey Makey Poetry Challenge Sheet Google Doc (For printing and sharing with students)


^^This post was sparked by this tweet today! ^^ I love to see public libraries partnering with school libraries as a way to bring Maker Education to schools. I’d never have been able to teach my students to solder if it hadn’t been for the Denton Public Library! Plus, I love to be able to share my own expertise with the community (like when I taught a sewing circuitry workshop at the public library.)

Partnering with the public library is not only a great way to extend your budget, it’s also what the Maker Movement is about- Collaborating and seeking help from experts when needed. 

I can’t wait to see what happens at Salmon High School when Salmon Public Library helps students Hack Poetry with Makey Makey!

Share your own Makey Makey poetry with #makeymakeypoetry on Twitter or Instagram! I’ll collect your examples to display on this post!

Your Work Here Soon^^

More Cool Ideas with Makey Makey and Poetry

And because there are even more cool ideas out there,here is just a few rad ideas I found other educators doing with Makey Makey and Poetry:

  • Interactive Blackout poetry by David Saunders:

  • Ollie and Makey Makey Mashup at Constructing Modern Knowledge 2015!

  •  Three word stories with Scratch and Makey Makey from Ricarose and The Tinkering Studio! First post about this workshop is great too: Read it here. (I know, this isn’t really poetry, but this three word story idea could easily be hacked for a poetry workshop!)

For the love of Arduino -Getting Started


My History with Arduino

I’m not sure of the way most people learn the complicated process of programming Arduino projects because I only know my own convoluted journey. I started the hard way following projects from the Arduino Starter Kit by building photo sensor theremins and electronic magic 8 balls. Here is one of my first Arduino projects I created at a class at the Denton Public Library. (The tweet below is a flashback to the Coding Bonanza I led at Lamar Library in 2014.)

I quickly found that I wanted to do things OTHER than what the projects outlined, but I just didn’t have the code knowledge to hack projects and make them my own. I continued following projects and attempting to tinker with code. For someone with absolutely no background in coding, it was quite an arduous journey. Imagine my surprise when I found out about the ScratchX extension from Kreg Hanning at SXSWedu in 2015!


What a great place to start tinkering with Arduino! I love the work that Ryan Jenkins and The Tinkering Studio are now doing with paper circuits and ScratchX! I see this as a great place to start kids experimenting with Arduino kits (even though one of my favorite things is hooking up wires.) I’m hoping to put my own library Arduino kits on blocks and make first time users more comfortable playing with Arduino and physical computing.

But how can I get students learning the complicated language of Arduino without handing them a large Arduino Cookbook ?

Starter Arduino Kits (Arduino at Heart)

Hummingbird Robotic Kits and the littleBits Arduino module are great places to start. (I have my own littlebits Arduino project featuring Ardublock in our #bigmakerbook and another free littleBits project here. ) These two kits require minimal electronics knowledge, and can be combined with cardboard, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners to make amazing contraptions.

One can also begin to tinker with Arduino coding with any of these kits:

Tinkering with Arduino Lesson Plan

Plus, I’ve developed a lesson plan with the Sparkfun Tinkering Kit that revolves around tinkering with scribblebots and Arduino programming. It’s available at Teachers Pay Teachers.

I wrote it as a challenge to myself because I don’t normally see Arduino as a tinkerable process. It takes quite a lot of knowledge and expertise before one can start to tinker with Arduino coding. That’s why I thought it would be great to develop a lesson around tinkering with Arduino code to actually learn how to write your own code.  Check out the lesson here.

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