Introduction: Holiday Makey Makey Door Display

About: Educator, maker, librarian, and Director of Community and Instigator of fun at Makey Makey! I love making and creating all kinds of stuff, but am particularly obsessed with circuits and physical computing!

Today, I'm gonna share a super simple paper circuit board that is a miniature version of a holiday door display. Teachers, I know you like your door displays, so I'd love to see you take this idea and run with it! I also know teachers can't always afford copper tape, so I challenged myself to make this without conductive tape! All you need is a Makey Makey and everyday stuff.

This project is made with entirely:

  • Holiday Waste and Scraps (My backdrop is from some candy we bought for our kids' teachers, the snowman I cut out of regular construction paper, and Santa is upcycled from used wrapping paper!)

Step 1: Create Foil Tape

Since foil is conductive and you probably have some in your kitchen, it makes a great way to create interactive touch points on everyday items. Plus, you can cut it in any shape you want! Cut your foil to be your circuit traces and use a gluestick to adhere it to your background. It's best to have one length of foil instead of piecing the foil together. While a gluestick is conductive when wet, it will most likely loose its conductivity when it dries. Therefore if you have to piece your foil together, make sure the two sides of foil touch without the glue acting as an insulator.

Step 2: Create Circuit Traces

For Makey Makey to work, you need one foil trace for your key press, and one foil trace for your ground (AKA EARTH).

For my mini display, I used one foil track for EARTH and hooked my grey alligator clip to it. For the first key press, I've made a small foil trace and hooked the red alligator clip to it. You can either touch both traces to activate the switch, or use a conductive item to bridge this circuit.

Step 3: Making a Switch

I used two different types of switches here. You can decide which version you like better!


You can make your foil trace the key press and attach it to your "ornament." Above, I've made Santa's tummy the key press, and wrapped the foil all the way to the top of this cut out. The foil belly wraps to Santa's hat and the red alligator clip is attached directly to this foil. The other end of the alligator clip is hooked to "space."


The other way to do this is to create a positive foil trace and a negative foil trace. (I used the same EARTH foil trace for my whole project.) Instead of the belly foil being attached to a key press, I've made a second foil trace. The alligator clip is hooked to the right arrow. So instead of the key press, the foil on the snowman's belly, is just a conductive pad that bridges the circuit when it presses and touches both foil traces. (Much like the way YOU bridge the circuit when you play a banana piano.)

Sometimes, it's frustrating to have alligator clips all over your display. So you might try making your own paper circuit board with this second style of switch. This type of switch is exactly how calculators and kid's toy buttons work! Bust open an old calculator and you are likely to find two conductive traces that are only bridged when a conductive pad is pushed to close the circuit.

Step 4: ​Hacking Old Ethernet Cables or Cat5

It's super simple to hack an old ethernet cable and have multiple wires for Makey Makey-ing! This way you can add some length to your project. The wires inside the cable work like an extra long DIY alligator clip. (In fact, I'll make a tutorial soon for adding alligator clips heads to a wire like this, it's really very simple!) Just cut off the outer casing a few inches and strip the wires you want to use. Bonus: This is like making your own ribbon cable! It will contain all your wires AND be color coded. If you want to, you can easily attach an alligator clip head to each wire.

Step 5: Code It in Scratch!

The last step for your door display is to code your sounds in Scratch! I uploaded mp3 files and decided it would be fun to have my song ONLY play when the switch is activated. So if you stop pressing the switch, the sound stops. Adding the "Stop all sounds" makes the sound stop when you let go of the key- or if you stop pressing the switch on the door display.

Make sure to share your creations in the "I made it" section!

For more holiday madness, check out these projects:

More switch ideas:

Step 6: Check Out These Teacher Examples on Twitter!

Finished coding my office door with @handym13 last night! Even if I don't win the door decorating contest at least I learned how to use scratch and makey makeys. Learning around the Christmas tree quoting all the greatests!

— Leah Magana (@IBLeahMagana) December 11, 2018

An interactive Christmas..... tree with kindergarten class at TCEA

— Kalo Haslem (@kjh011) December 11, 2018

Also can’t stop won’t stop with the Christmas spirit here in #MaybornDesignDen! Look at our @makeymakey Christmas tree! 🎄

— Emily Clark (@emilyrclark24) December 12, 2017

Christmas Around the World Project. An interactive bulletin board using @makeymakey and inspiration from

— Stephen Swan (@mrswanjam) December 19, 2018

Our first major project with #makeymakey and #scratch-an interactive Christmas tree for the hallway outside of my classroom!

— Anna Hanrahan (@HanrahanLEAP) December 4, 2018
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