Conductive copper thread or tape added to puppets connects your puppets to the Makey Makey. Scratch adds a huge new dimension to your storytelling.
Makey Makey Classic, Puppets (this lesson uses a puppet made from a decorated paper bag as well as a purchased fabric hand puppet), Copper tape with conductive adhesive, Medium conductive thread, Clear nail polish, Medium sewing needle, Scissors
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Overview
- Copper tape with conductive adhesive can be found in the Inventor Booster Kit
- Medium conductive thread can be found here at Adafruit
This lesson has two parts, one for a paper bag puppet and the other for a fabric hand puppet. In both cases, start by adding conductive material to the puppets. Connect the puppet to the Makey Makey with alligator clips. Use Scratch to augment your puppet show by providing captioning for your lines, sound effects, animation, or other theatrical flourishes.
Note on Standards
These lessons were developed with the idea that teachers all over the globe and a variety of grade levels could hack the lesson plan to meet their students' needs. Therefore, these are just some of the standards the lessons are based on, and not an all-inclusive list. Many of the CCSS align by grade level, so if you teach 9th grade, you could find the stair-stepped standard for CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 by looking at CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6.
Step 2: Paper Puppet
Start with a paper bag puppet. The puppet need not be fancy. I borrowed one from my son, made from a kit. Here is a fantastic site with patterns for many different paper bag hand puppets if you need help getting started: http://www.dltk-kids.com/type/paper_bag.htm.
Turn the puppet over so you are looking at the back of it.
Remove the backing from a strip of conductive copper tape and apply it to the back of the puppet, about an inch from the bottom of the paper bag, nearly completely across the width of the bag.
Fold the copper tape and extend the strip to the bottom of the paper bag. Fold over the copper tape, cut it with the scissors, and apply it to the inside of the paper bag to made a nice, clean fold at the bottom of the bag.
Cut five strips of copper tape with conductive adhesive about two inches long. Apply them perpendicular to the strip of copper tape you applied in steps 3 and 4, making sure to leave a slight gap between the strips. Leave the backing attached to the bottom of the strips of copper tape for now
Continue with the other four strips of copper tape, leaving a space between each strip and leaving the backing attached.
Fold the copper tape with conductive adhesive over on itself, leaving a half inch tab extending from the bottom of the bag. Unfold the copper tape, remove the backing, and refold the tape, adhering the end of the copper tape to the inside of the paper bag.
Use a permanent pen to mark next to the copper tape in this order: Up arrow, down, left, right, space. The last strip of copper tape, the one extending across the paper bag, is the Earth.
Connect alligator clips to each of the tabs and the Earth on the paper bag puppet.
Step 10: Fabric Puppet
For the fabric puppet you will use conductive thread to make connections for the alligator clips.
Put your hand in the puppet and stretch your hand out wide.
Bring your fingers together. Note where on the puppet your fingers touch. This is where you will sew conductive thread “pads.”
Use the scissors to cut about twelve inches of conductive thread. Apply a small dab of clear nail polish to both ends to prevent the thread from unraveling.
Tie a square knot in one end of the thread.
Thread the needle. Starting with the needle and thread inside the puppet, sew stitches approximately a quarter of an inch long. I sewed four stitches to make a small conductive pad in one of the squirrel’s arms. Finish your stitches with the needle and thread back inside the puppet.
Remove the needle from the thread. Tie a knot toward the end of the thread. Put a dab of nail polish on the knot.
Sew another conductive thread pad in the other arm of the fabric puppet following steps 1 through 6. Make sure the second pad is sewn where it will contact the first pad you sewed.
Connect one alligator clip to one of the threads. Connect another alligator clip to the other thread. Connect the other end of the first alligator clip to the Space key on the Makey Makey. Connect the other alligator clip to the Earth on the Makey Makey. Plug the USB cable into the Makey Makey. Plug the Makey Makey into a computer.
Put the puppet on your hand. With your hand spread the circuit is open. When you touch the conductive thread pads, the circuit is closed and the light above Space on the Makey Makey lights up.
Step 19: Using the Puppets With Scratch
You can start with this Scratch project and remix it.
Connect one of the fabric puppet’s conductive thread alligator clips to the Earth key on the Makey Makey. Carefully insert a short white wire into the W header on the back of the Makey Makey. Clip the alligator clip from the second conductive thread to the short white wire. The fabric puppet is now connected to W and Earth on the Makey Makey.
Connect the alligator clips from the paper bag puppet to the corresponding keys on the Makey Makey.
When the paper bag puppeteer uses her or his finger to bridge the gap between the Earth strip of conductive copper tape and the arrow and space keys, one at a time and in left to right order on the back of the paper bag, the lion will say his lines in Scratch.
When the squirrel puppeteer touches the conductive thread pads together, the Sprite checks where it is in its list and says the proper line. Programming Scratch this way allows a single key to do multiple things in a list.
You can use this as a starter for your own Scratch Makey Makey puppet show. Be creative and remix!
Here is a demonstration of how the puppets can interact with a Scratch project.
Step 26: Extensions (Optional)
- Write your own play and use Scratch’s “Say” block to subtitle the dialog for the audience.
- Use Scratch’s Stage and backdrops to change the scenery using the puppet. You can have different backgrounds for different scenes.
- Have your physical puppet interact with a Sprite on the screen using Broadcast blocks in Scratch.