Makey Makey Invention Kit for Everyone

Makey Makey Banana Piano | TinkerLab.com

Make + Key = Makey Makey

Would you enjoy playing a game of PacMan with carrots or tinkering with a set of play dough piano keys? If the answer is “yes,” then Makey Makey might be just the toy for you!

I’ve been following Makey Makey by JoyLabz for a while and we finally got the chance to play with our very own set.

Makey Makey Invention Kit for Everyone | TinkerLab.com review

What is Makey Makey?

That’s a great question — before we brought ours home I wasn’t entirely sure either!

Makey Makey is an easy-to-use invention kit that’s essentially a printed circuit board that connects to a computer via a USB cable. Wires connect Makey Makey to conductive objects (i.e. play dough, bananas, aluminum foil, coins), which can then be played much like a joystick or keyboard key.

Basically, Makey Makey takes over the functionality of the space bar and other computer keys, and the conductive objects become the computer’s new keys! Cool, right?

One more thing: Do you see my daughter holding one end of the black wire in the photo (above)? YOU close the circuit to the ground with your body by holding one end of an alligator clip while playing with Makey Makey with another hand.  If you let go of that wire, nothing works. This makes for a strong lesson in how circuits work. Awesome for kids!

What’s inside?

That tidy little green kit you see there is filled with a few important supplies:

  • Makey Makey board with 18 key-press connections and one ground connection
  • 7 alligator clips
  • 6 white wires
  • 1 USB cable
  • Basic instructions

Makey Makey Kit

How does Makey Makey work?

  1. It’s an Arduino Circuit Board. The heart of Makey Makey is its circuit board. The Makey Makey board connects to your computer via the USB cable (see the orange cord).
  2. Ground the Circuit. Connect one end of a wire to the board with the simple alligator clip technology. Hold the other end of the wire with your hand, and YOUR BODY now completes the circuit.
  3. Replace keyboard keys with conductive materials. Attach one end of an alligator clip to a spot on the Makey Makey board, and the other end to something conductive. We chose bananas.
  4. Play a game or an instrument. Then you want to find a digital instrument or game to connect your Makey Makey to. We connected to a piano for our first project, but you could also hook up your new “game controller” to PacMan or Tetris. Here’s our banana piano in action:

Makey Makey Experiments

This is where Makey Makey gets interesting. Once you get the hang of how Makey Makey works, you’ll certainly come up with new ways to tinker and create with it. The Makey Makey website has a pages of creations and games that people have invented around their product: talking water fountains, a heartbeat wall. And my favorite: the Giggling Circuit. You’ll want to try that one! Here’s a link.

And my all-time favorite: Eat the Star Spangled Banner. Oh-my-goodness. Amazing fun.

Makey Makey Banana Piano | TinkerLab.com

Makey Makey in Schools and Libraries

  • According to this Fast Company article, one in five Makey Makeys are used in Makerspaces for after-school and other educational programs
  • The Makey Makey website includes step-by-step tutorials that offer ideas for collaborations in school and other group settings.
  • The Tech Museum in San Jose invented a game for their Maker Space that invited teams of kids to work together to build human-size circuits with a chain of bodies. They look like they’re having so much fun!
  • Combine Makey Makey with Scratch coding (recommended for kids ages 8 and up), and you’ll get a child hooked on inventing and problem solving

What age is it for?

I couldn’t find an official age range on the product’s site. My kids are 4 and 6, and they loved playing with Makey Makey once I set it up. They quickly understood how to build a circuit with their bodies, and also enjoyed the task of testing various objects for conductivity. Depending on a child’s experience with electronics and computers, I would guess that young teens would be able to use Makey Makey on their own. Younger children will need adult assistance, but it’s just as interesting for adults as it is for kids, and makes a cool side-by-side learning experience.

Where to buy Makey Makey

Amazon (affiliate)

Directly from Makey Makey. If you’re a school, you can order with a P.O. from Makey Makey.


We had so much fun with Makey Makey, and look forward to testing it out in more ways.

Thanks to JoyLabz for sending us the Makey Makey kit to review. All opinions shared here are our own.

5 Easy Steps to Invent a Recipe with Kids

invent a recipe with kids

Do you like to cooking with kids or do you yearn to cook with your child? Today we’re sharing five easy steps to invent a recipe with kids, which will get you into a creative cooking mindset. Think Master Chef + little kids = a fun afternoon.

But you might wonder, “why would I want to invent a recipe when I can easily follow a recipe?” The answer is that inventing recipes instills children with confidence to invent their own solutions to a problem, encourages independent thinking and problem solving skills, and teaches children how to find their way around a kitchen.

5 easy steps to invent a recipe with kids | TinkerLab

My house smells like pancakes.

Which really means that it smells like cooking oil and caramelized sugar. Sort of a happy, greasy smell that has lingered for days.

Every afternoon, for the past three days, my 3 year old turns into a kitchen alchemist as she gathers ingredients and invents her own recipes.

She is in heaven. And it gets even better once we cook the cakes up and proudly serve them up to hungry family members.

Do you ever give your kids free reign over your kitchen?

Experiments like this set children up with a real-life science experiment that fosters creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving skills. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to be okay with a bit of a mess, but I think the trouble is well worth it for the amount of creative confidence it builds in children.

So, after three straight days of wild pancake combinations, I present five lessons learned on how to invent recipes with kids…

Cooking with Kids: Invent a Recipe

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #1…Get Familiar with the Kitchen.

If your child doesn’t know where things are, give him a little tour. And start with a simple cooking project that introduces him to some key ingredients and tools for a favorite recipe (such as a mixing bowl, mixing spoon, measuring spoon/cup, flour, and oil).

We spend a lot of time cooking together and my oldest (N) knows her way around the kitchen. She can find the biggest mixing bowl in the house, all the baking ingredients are at kid-level (this will no doubt pose a problem once her little sister figures this out), and we have amazing little foldable step stools like these that give her access to the fridge (unless she wants the butter…but we do have a taller stool for that).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #2…Come up with a General Plan.

In our case, N has been making pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes. We tend to make a lot of pancakes in our house anyway (they’re not just for the weekends), so she’s super-familiar with the key ingredients and general direction of what might taste good together. For example, she didn’t pour ketchup into the batter (although if she did, I probably would have let it happen).

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you could riff off of? 

To start, she collected a few ingredients (white flour, wheat flour, flax seeds, and blueberries), and added them to the bowl. I tried to step back and allow her to make decisions about quantities, but every now and then I’d throw out a suggestion to help guide the journey.

As you can imagine, her pancake recipe has WAY more than the usual tablespoon of sugar (see the next picture), but it turns out that sugary pancakes are absolutely delicious.

invent a recipe with kids

Lesson #3…Green Light all Ingredients.

Of course you want to be safe about this, as things like raw meat and raw eggs need special handling, but try to keep an open mind as your child selects her ingredients. One of N’s batters had chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, mango juice, dried cranberries and walnuts in it. It was amazing.

The most recent batch contained raspberries, strawberry cream cheese, diced apples, and goat cheese. It was a bit chunky, and I’m not so sure about the goat cheese, but we drafted a recipe in case they end up being the best one yet.

Which bring me to the next lesson…

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #4…Write the Recipe Down.

This is validating and makes the whole game so much more fun. As N added ingredients, I tried my best to write them down. Some things were carefully measured and others weren’t, but it didn’t really matter. I’m thrilled to have documentation of her first recipes and I’m sure she’ll treasure them as she gets older.

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #5…Embrace a Good Experiment.

As we cooked, I repeated multiple times that this is a grand experiment and that we’d be surprised one way or the other. We chatted about how it’s possible that not one person has ever made this exact recipe, and that chefs go through a similar process when they invent something new. Like scientists, they hypothesize (what ingredients might taste good together?), they experiment (let’s make this batter with yogurt and the next with sour cream), and they test (how does it taste? which batch do we like better? why?).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

After one of our cooking sessions, my husband took the kids off on a run in the stroller. These two hot cakes were eaten before they left the driveway, which I suppose speaks to how delicious they came out.

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