Introduction: Book Tasting

Lots of my projects revolve around mathematics, but as an elementary teacher, we have many skill sets, language arts being one of them. It's always a struggle to get some students interested in reading a book and Book Tasting is an idea that's been swirling around twitter, is easily searchable and one that I think could work well integrated with Makey Makey. Book Tasting is a fun and fresh way to introduce your students to some new reading material, by giving them a "taste" of a book. In this project the "taste" will be a voice recording.

For my book tasting, I recorded the descriptions of 2020 Silver Birch nominees in Scratch and then made pressure switches connected with Makey Makey to make them play. In time, I'd love to have students replace my voice with book descriptions of their own. If you're not from Ontario - replace the titles with favourites you'd love your students to dive into!

The Silver Birch books I highlighted in this project are from the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading, Silver Birch Program. You can learn more about this project here.


To get this little Reading project off the ground, you'll need:

  • Makey Makey kit - (I highlighted 10 books so I need a few extra alligator clips than came in one kit)
  • Access to a computer
  • Access to Scratch
  • images of the books
  • cardboard
  • tape, glue
  • sponge
  • aluminum foil

Step 1: Setting Up Scratch

I wanted to give voice to the books, so I decided to use Scratch as my platform.

  1. First I uploaded images of each of the books and made them sprites and placed them on my stage which portrayed a Silver Birch logo. I included the logo for those who might wonder where this book list originated.
  2. Next job - to make new sounds. I clicked on the add a sound speaker icon and recorded a description of the book. If you're not sure how to record new sounds in Scratch, check out this video.
  3. Now to add the MakeyMakey Extensions to Scratch. Click on the blue extensions button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Wowsa - tons of add-ins, but look for MakeyMakey and simply click it and the MakeyMakey blocks will appear in the Code column.
  4. For each sprite, I used a when space key pressed block changing the input for each book/sprite. I knew I'd need some sort of organizing page for which input went with which book, so I made a list to help with set up later.
  5. Finally, I use the play sound block and its pull down arrow to find the right book recording.

Here's a link to the Scratch program I created. Edit it and add your own books ;-)

Silver Birch Book Tasting

Step 2: Setting Up the "books"

I wanted the books to be available for students so I make pressure switches with a picture of the book instead.

To make a pressure switch follow this Instructable Pressure Switch lesson.

If you wanted to use the real thing you might want to think about using conductive fabric tape on the books. Or you could try to make a paper pressure switch and place it inside the book. Check out the Step 3: Station Three: Make a Paper Switch here. Thanks for the suggestions MakeyMakey Support ;-)

Step 3: Connecting Makey Makey

Finally - time to connect Makey Makey. I connected MM to my computer and carefully set about connecting a ground alligator clip and an input alligator clip to each of my books (pressure switches) - being sure to get each switch connected to the right input. In a classroom or library setting, I would tape my wires to a table top so they wouldn't be easily jostled.

Now - to find some students and encourage them to dive into reading these terrific novels!