Introduction: Makey Makey Show and Tell Display

About: I am the 1st-6th grade enrichment/STEAM/Gifted teacher for our district's elementary school. I try to incorporate hands-on, project based learning in everything we do.

After 19 years of teaching, I have never lost my love of a new, bright, exciting bulletin board! My bulletin board style has evolved through the years from cutesy, store-bought, holiday-themed cutouts, to meaningful pieces of my students' work. I still like the space to be aesthetically pleasing, lively and inviting, but I want my display boards to be an area where students can take pride and ownership in their work as well as a place where other students can learn from what is displayed.

Since stepping into the role of STEAM teacher, I am constantly trying to incorporate elements of STEAM into everything I do to engage and excite my students, as well as elevate learning. One of my favorite tools to do this is Makey Makey.

Makey Makey is an incredible STEAM tool to incorporate into the classroom. It is engaging for all ages, can be used for very simple to very complex projects, and can really enhance learning and understanding for students. The Makey Makey Show and Tell Display is a simple, yet highly effective place for easily sharing teacher and student created information, projects, reports and resources.

Step 1: Understanding! Okay, But What IS It???

The Makey Makey Show and Tell Display literally shows...and tells!

On one side of the display, students can clip a photograph, drawing, diagram, chart or anything they want to SHOW.

  • Biography Project? Show a photo or drawing of person here.
  • Photographs or drawings of ANY possible report could go here, from animals to habitats to planets to ancient Egypt to theory of relativity, and so on.
  • Perhaps a student has worked out a difficult math problem, this is where they would show the problem.
  • Maybe data has been collected, the bar graph or pie chart or line graph or pictograph could go here!
  • If a student has worked on a science experiment, data could go here or parts of the physical experment could be set right in this spot.
  • If it's the beginning of the year, for a get-to-know-you project, students could attach a self portrait, a photograph or maybe even a mysterious silhouette here.
  • A favorite book might be displayed here!

On the other side of the display, recorded pertinent information will TELL about what they showed and why. Using Scratch and Makey Makey circuit boards, when curious peers touch the conductive buttons on the front ot the display, they will be regaled with information about what they are looking at.

  • That biography? Push the buttons to hear about important parts of this person's life. (Example in video)
  • Any report on anything? The buttons are going to TELL you the most pertinent information.
  • Is there a math problem over on the 'SHOW' side? This 'TELL' side is going to to explain exactly how how it was worked out, step by step!
  • Is there a chart or a graph on the show side? Push a button to hear how that data has been broken down and why.
  • A science experiment! The buttons might tell you the hypothesis, process and a conclusion!
  • Is there a photo or drawing or silhouette of a student on that 'SHOW' side? The buttons will give you more information to better know that student or to guess who it is!
  • A new book is displayed! The buttons will give you a book talk about it! It will probably include an exciting hook to get you interested, tell you a little about the characters and the plot, but the book talk won't give anything away! You will have to read the book yourself to find out how it ends!

The possibilities are ENDLESS with the 'Makey Makey Show and Tell Display'. The combination of a visual, auditory and kinesthetic approach to learning is highly engaging and effective for most students. Incorporating Makey Makey and Scratch technology gives boring old reports a much needed refreshing twist for differentiating learning. Best of all, it is SO easy to create this display and even easier for students to create projects to hook up to it.

These easy to change displays full of student voice and choice are going to step in and take the place of stagnant bulletin boards everywhere!

Step 2: Materials and Printables


  • 1 Makey Makey Board w/7 alligator clips
  • Power Source (Chromebook or Laptop)
  • 1 Copy Paper Box With Lid
  • 1 Shoebox Lid
  • Bulletin board paper of your choice of color to cover the box
  • The words 'Show & Tell' die cut or spelled out with bulletin board letters
  • 6 Metal Shower Hooks (I found mine at the dollar store!)
  • 5 MakeDo screws OR Duct Tape OR Hot Glue
  • 4 Clothespins
  • 6 Brass Fasteners
  • 6 Small Binder Clips
  • Velcro Adhesive Dots
  • Box Cutter or Exacto Knife
  • Scotch tape
  • Masking Tape
  • Glue Stick
  • Scissors

Printable Resources

All of the cards resources are examples of topics that can be used with the Show and Tell Display. The blank cards can be laminated and a dry erase marker can be used to write in the topics. All of the cards were created using the 'Canva' website.

Step 3: Wrap Up That Box and Lid

To make the display bright and inviting, I decided to cover mine with bulletin board paper. I chose yellow for no reason other than it's bright and cheerful, but I later thought that our school colors (red and black) would have been been a good choice too. I used regular bulletin board paper, but wrapping paper, no-fade paper, or even fabric would work as well.

Separate the lid from the copy paper box and wrap both of them SEPARATELY with the paper. Don't worry about covering the back sides, only the fronts and sides need to be covered. I used the same color of paper for both the lid and the box, but you could use two different colors if you choose to. The lid side will be the 'Show' side where the project will be displayed, and the box side will be the 'Tell' side, where the Makey Makey will be hooked up for audio recordings.

Step 4: Time to Connect!

Now that you have your box and your lid wrapped separately, it is time to connect them side by side. The lid part should be on the left side when you are looking at it and the box part on the right side.

Line the two pieces up next to each other and connect them. I used MakeDo screws, which were really easy and effective. I poked 3 holes down the side of the lid into the side of the box and screwed 3 MakeDo screws into the holes. The boxes were then securely connected together.

If you do not have MakeDo screws, you can use rolls of duct tape or packing tape to attach the sides to each other. Large brass fasteners or even hot glue would work as well.

The two sides should be securely attached together. These two sides should not ever have to be separated in the future.

Step 5: Add the 'Show & Tell' Letters

Once the box lid and the box are securely attached to each other, it is time to add your 'Show & Tell' letters. My letters are from a bulletin board letter kit from the dollar store. I used a glue stick to attach each letter. For me, the spacing worked out to have the entire word 'SHOW' at the top of the left, lid-side of the display, and the words '& TELL' on the right, box-side of the display.

(Remember, the visual for the display will be completely on the left side, and the Makey Makey hook-ups for the audio (tell) part of the display will be completely on the right side!)

Step 6: Prepare Your Display Cards

A variety of display cards are ready to be printed in the "Materials and Printables" section of this Instructable. The included themes are; Animal Showcase, Biography, Book Talks, Math Master, Star Student and a set of blank cards that can be turned into any topic you or the students wish.

You can also make your own cards on Canva's free website. I used the "Business Card" template for my cards.

I highly recommend you laminate the display cards before you cut them out.

After the cards are laminated and cut out, affix a a velcro dot to the back side of each card. These will later be attached to the opposite velcro dots on the display box. (I used the stiffer velcro for the backs of the cards and the softer velcro for the display box.)

Step 7: Poke Some Holes and Add Some Clips...On the Front!

Once your "Show and Tell" letters are in place, and you have printed at least one set of display cards, you will easily know how to space everything else.

On the left, lid-side, where the words 'SHOW' are, hot glue a clothespin centered right underneath the word. Once the clothespin is glued, you should be able to clip a regular, 8.5"x11" paper into the clip with the paper still fitting within the area of the box lid.

On the right, box-side, you will begin creating holes for the shower hooks which will serve as conductors for the Makey Makey board. Before you create your holes, you will want to make sure you have your spots for 6 display cards evenly spaced out. The display cards I created are 3 1/4" x 2 1/2" in size. I took 6 of the cards with a small piece of tape and spaced them on the right side of the box (under & Tell) in a pattern that I liked. Make sure there is plenty of room next to each card to insert a shower curtain hook. My shower hook 'buttons' are located next to my display cards, but you could put yours below each of your cards or even above each card if you prefer. It's all up to you! Once I had my cards where I liked them, I attached the other piece of velcro to the box where each card was, then affixed the cards to the velcro. The velcro allows for the cards to be interchangeable with new sets of cards.

I then took a screwdriver (you can use any sharp tool!) and poked a hole next to each display card. I inserted a shower hook into each hole and attached the shower hooks with masking tape on the backside of the box. On the front of the box, the hooks should now look like buttons next to the cards. They might pop up slightly, but that's okay!

After the shower hooks were secure, I used a box cutter to cut two small holes in the very top of the right, lid-side of the box. Then, from the back, I took a clothespin and stuck one up through each hole about an inch. These clothespins will hold the different display cards for the Show & Tell box.

The final (optional) addition to the front of the box is the 'Makey Makey' logo. I like to have it on my display because it reminds the students what product they are using with this display board, and vocabulary is important. The fun logo also entices visitors to our room to ask about it, and opens the window to showing off what we've been working on and sharing the technlogy with others.

To add the Makey Makey logo, I printed the logo and laminated it. I took took the lid of a shoebox and cut it down to the size that I wanted the logo to be. I then trimmed down the logo to match up with the size of the lid and used a glue stick to glue it to the front of the shoebox lid. I then used MakeDo screws to fasten the bottom of the shoebox lid to the top of the box. Again, if you don't have MakeDo screws, hot glue or duct tape should work just fine.

Step 8: Add Some More Clips...On the Back!

The back of your Makey Makey Show and Tell Display is also a storage area! This is where you can store all of the display cards.

When you turn the display around, where the box part connects to the lid part, you will have almost the whole side of the box part exposed. What I did here was poke 6 holes down the side of the box in groups of two. I then stuck a large brass fastener through the metal part of a binder clip, pushed the fastener through the hole, and fastened the back of it on the inside of the box. After I did that 6 times, I had 6 clips to hold sets of display cards for easy access.

Behind the lid part of the display, toward the top, I hot glued a small clip I had found. A clothespin would work just fine for this as well. I clipped the show and tell banner cards here. It easily held 6 and could hold more.

Now your cards are organized neatly and conveniently, right behind your display!

Step 9: Hooking Up the Makey Makey

The Makey Makey in my Show and Tell Display will stay there permanently. If possible, I highly recommend keeping a consistent Makey Makey in the unit because then students can just plug the usb into their computer or bring up their Scratch program on an already connected computer and it's ready to go. No unhooking and rehooking Makey Makey wires and cords!

Since my Makey Makey board stays in the display, I labeled each Makey Makey alligator clip cord to match up with the symbol on the display cards. The cards each have a symbol on them for continuity, to help students know which order to go in if some sort of chronological order matters to their presentation. I wrapped a sticker around each different cord with a different symbol that corrosponds with a display card. In our room, students know that an up arrow is the top, left button and that is the #1 audio. The down arrow is the top, right button, and that is the #2 audio, and so on.

When hooking up the Makey Makey, the cord with the 'up' arrow, should go into the the top part of the arrow on the Makey Makey. The cord with the 'down' arrow, should go in the bottom part of the arrow of the Makey Makey. The cord with the 'left' arrow should go on the left side of the arrow in the Makey Makey. The cord with the 'right' arrow should go on the right side of the arrow of the Makey Makey. The cord labeled 'space' should go in the hole labled 'space' on the Makey Makey and the cord labeled 'W' will be attached to the 'W' spot on the back of the Makey Makey. (You would need to use a connector wire for this one.)

Once the cords are correctly matched up with their spots on the Makey Makey board, make sure you connect the alligator clip at the end of each cord to the back of the correct shower hook. I used a Sharpie to write which symbol goes with which on the back side to easily match up the cords.

Once that is complete, make sure the usb cord is plugged into the side of the Makey Makey and that there is a cord attached to one of the Earth holes. I recommend using one of the extra long green cords for Earth so that it can easily reach around the display. You can also cut an extra hole at the bottom of the display on the box-side to thread the Earth cord through for easier access when using the display board.

Step 10: Utilizing Scratch for the Makey Makey

In order to add the audio to the display box, we use Scratch. Scratch is a free and easy platform for students to record their information for the 'Tell' portion of the display. I recommend you setup a classroom page to be able to easily access all projects from one place on Scratch.

Once you have your page set up, follow these instruction for students to record audio.

  1. Click the 'Create' button at the top of the page.
  2. On the lefthand side, click the yellow circle that says 'Events'
  3. Drag out the block that says "When Space Key is Pressed"
  4. Drag that same block out FIVE MORE TIMES.
  5. Go to the dropdown menu of each of the yellow blocks and change one to 'up arrow', a different block to 'down arrow', a different block to 'left arrow', a different block to 'right arrow', a different block to 'w' and leave on of the blocks to say 'space'.
  6. Next, up at the top of the portion where the blocks are stored (left side) click the tab that says 'Sounds'
  7. If there is a box in there that says 'Meow' click on the 'x' in the garbage can to delete it.
  8. Down at the bottom, in a blue circle, is something that looks like a speaker. Hover your mouse on that and then scroll up to the icon that looks like a microphone and says 'record'. Click on it.
  9. Here students will be able to record what they want to have audio for in their Show and Tell display. Click the orange button and record everything for the first button of the display.
  10. Once finished recording, students can listen to their audio and decide if they want to keep it or re-record.
  11. Once they decide to keep the audio, click the blue 'Save' button. It will be labeled 'Recording 1' but they can change that if they would like to. (For example, they might change it to 'Up Arrow' since that's the spot where the first recording will go on my Show and Tell example and it will make it easier for them to remember which yellow events block to hook it up to.)
  12. After all recordings are finished and saved, click back on the 'Code' tab at the top of the page.
  13. Students should now click on the purple 'Sound' circle.
  14. Drag out 6 'Play Sound______until done' blocks and attach them to each yellow block.
  15. Student should then use the drop down arrow to correctly choose which sound goes with which block. For example, recording 1 will go with the up arrow, recording 2 will go with the down arrow, recording 3 will go with the left arrow, recording 4 will go with the right arrow, recording 5 will go with the 'space' box and recording 6 will go with 'W'.

Step 11: Putting It All Together!

Once the recordings in Scratch are complete, students are pretty much ready to go!

If the topic matches up with one of the ready-made cards, make sure those are velcroed to the front of the display in the correct order. If the topic is unique, the blank cards can be displayed and students can write appropriate titles on them using a dry erase marker.

If a computer is already connected to the back of the 'Makey Makey Show and Tell Display', students can pull up their program and get going. If they need to use their own computer, all they should need to do is connect the red USB cord to their computer and pull up the program on Scratch.

The 'Show' side can be anyting they choose to display. A photograph or a drawing of their topic, a written report, or a physical model can be set in front of it, like a Lego or Makerspace creation, toy or model.

Using the cord from 'Earth', students should touch it to each button to hear the recordings play. This cord can be turned into a 'Magic Wand' using conductive materials such as alluminum foil. Students can also simply hold the metal clip between their fingers in one hand and touch a button with their other hand to make the audio play.

Step 12: A Little Something Extra

In my classroom, most of my students are visual and kinesthetic learners. Because of this, I created individual 'Makey Makey Show and Tell Display' boards for each student while they are working on their projects. Students can hook these up to their own Chromebooks and test out their projects before they are ready to show their work on the main Show and Tell board. They can even use dry erase markers to sketch on the 'Show' side.

If you would like for your students to have their own individual boards, simply print the enough copies for your students, laminate the boards, and cut them out. Then, insert brass fasteners into each circle under the 'Tell' side. You can access a copy of the individual student practice show and tell boards HERE.

Once students have completed their recordings on Scratch, they can hook up their Makey Makey to their own board to make sure their recordings corrospond with the correct symbol before hooking it up to the main Show and Tell Board. They might find that they need to re-record something, or that a wire is attached incorrectly. It's a great way to have them test it out and work out and problems before presenting their project to a wider audience.

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