Talking Book Shelf With Makey and Scratch




Introduction: Talking Book Shelf With Makey and Scratch

About: Teacher, Maker, Grower, Gamer - Librarian and Coordinator for "Make It...Awesome!" GMS Makerspace

Make the displays in your classroom or library interactive with Makey Makey and Scratch. Students can now access booktalks and information about our reading program any time by adding interactive audio.


Book stand or bookshelf, copper tape, wiring, Makey Makey, computer

Step 1: Building the Display

Using a library book cart, we started to plan a display for one of our library programs. Though we introduce this program at the beginning of the school year with all the books, having an "always on" interactive and independent display for this program seemed like a great way for students to visit and revisit the books in a book program as often as they want.

Alternatively, in the classroom, this same display on a shelf or cart could be used for student created book reviews so that your whole class can share the books they love with each other. One quick template to have students write their own "booktalks" is three sentences of summary followed by three sentences of personal response.

Each book will be wired to the Makey Makey using a length of wiring leaving room for students to pick up the book and hold it in their hand while listening to the audio. The wiring is connected using copper tape on the back edge near the spine. The wire is connected at the bottom using a piece of copper tape under the wire, then sealed on top by a long piece of copper tape that will run parallel to the book's spine, sandwiching the wire with the tape. This way someone picking up the book anywhere with their left hand would make the connection.

The student will be invited to touch the copper wire running along the handle of the book cart with their right handle. By touching both the cart handle and any book on the shelf will trigger the audio.

Step 2: Continuing the Display

After wiring up the books, which will be displayed on the front of the cart, all wires will run through the back of the cart and be connected to the Makey Makey. We will hide the electronics on the back of the cart in a cardboard box to conceal the mess and keep it intact from lots of use. We wanted to also to have a physical sign for students to learn more about the program and be able to touch to hear an audio introduction. This plastic display was set up similar to the books with wiring on the back and copper tape running over the top and onto the front of the display stand.

Alternatively, if you don't want to tie up the books for your display, print a color copy of the book cover and back it onto cardboard. The picture of the cover could be wired up the same way as you would the actual book!

Step 3: Writing Your Scripts and Setting Up the Audio

Start to plan your book talks. I always try to write about something that will connect any student to the book, something universal. Once you have your scripts in place, use Scratch or audio recording software, like GarageBand or Audacity to record. We used Scratch for these recordings. Using the Sounds tab on a new project, we recorded an audio segment for each book. Once all audio files were recorded, set up the coding by defining which key would be mapped to each audio file. This is done by following your wire from each book to the back of the Makey Makey. For example, the "w" key was mapped to play the "Intro" program file. By labeling each wire as you go, you can easily see which wire is connected to each book.

See the Scratch Project:

Booktalks for Ghost, Mysterious Messages, Fuzzy and Real Friends

Ghost - How fast are you? Castle Crenshaw must think he’s pretty fast, because there he is, watching for the sides as a track team warms up and a showboat of a guy in expensive sneakers and running gear is hotdogging as he runs in his sprint. Castle must think he’s fast as he lines up with the kid, even in his saggy jeans in hightops. Castle must think he’s fast because at the whistle, he’s running too and keeping up pretty well against the flash over there, but see Castle knows that he must be fast, even though he doesn’t run. He must be fast because he did have to run that one time when he and his mother were chased by someone with a gun.

Mysterious Messages - It’s up to you to figure out the message. A message that could find the truth, unlock a criminal enterprise or even stop a war. Code breakers have been a crucial part of history. They employ a craft that requires both natural talent and careful practice. You can learn all about this craft in mysterious messages.

Fuzzy - Robotics Integration Program, part of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army, just started a program to bring a human-like robot to our middle school to develop its ability to function in the real world. Excited? Well Max is, when she and her friends find out. When she meets, Fuzzy, though a robot in a bad wig, she is less than impressed, especially when it fails the first time it tries to navigate a middle school hall during class changes. So Max is invited to help Fuzzy function and along the way she’ll discover hackers, a military conspiracy and another robot that just may be out to get her.

Real Friends - We all know friends are important, especially when you’re young. Shannon doesn’t have it easy with “the group” though, these are most popular girls in her grade that she just gets to be a part of because of her best friend, Adrienne was invited. Now Shannon doesn’t know, is she in? Is she out? Some people in the group seem okay, others seem like they want to hurt Shannon. And all Shannon wants is her best friend back. How will this rollercoaster end? Find out in Real Friends.

Step 4: Invite Students to the Display!

Once you have signs in place telling students how to interact with the display, you are ready to go!

Step 5:

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    3 years ago

    So good! We've seen Makey Makey book talks, but not talking book carts! GENIUS! Gotta love library integration ideas! Great project!