What can’t be done with Legos? I wish I had recognized the potential of this versatile toy when I was a kid! Legos appear quite a bit on this blog because I am regularly astonished by how creative people can be with them, and certainly not because they pay me any money – which they absolutely don’t. For today’s Phun Phriday post, I offer you links that show Legos making music, Legos keeping track of appointments, and Legos that will make your mouth water!
I found myself in Seattle a few weeks ago, stuck in a 12-person van with my daughter’s synchronized swimming team on a road trip. The girls were getting a bit stir crazy, and I was trying to think of a game we hadn’t played yet. I desperately texted a music teacher friend, “What was that fun music app you showed me last month?”
I quickly downloaded it, and got the girls next to me to give their input on the song and style. Once you choose a song and style, the app tells you certain sounds to make as you are recorded, then mixes them into a fun video. The video can then be shared to your camera roll or on social media (if you desire).
The team loved it. Suddenly every girl in the van was downloading the app to her phone and making weird sounds. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a great idea to try it out in an enclosed space…
I was reminded of the app when I saw this article on the Huffington Post about a recent video called, “Schoolhouse Re-mix” by DJ Overeasy. (You should check it out. It’s great!) I don’t think DJ Overeasy used the app to make his video, but the effects are similar.
VidRhythm is rated for ages 9+, and available on iPhone and iPad. It’s free. I’m sharing it today because it’s Phun Phriday, and it’s definitely a lot of fun. Of course, kids will be kids and try to make all kinds of sounds that are not suggested by the app – so be prepared if it’s on a student’s device to hear and see some unique videos that only kids would dream up;)
One pretty standard piece of inventory in a Maker Space seems to be a product called MaKey MaKey. I posted about the MaKey MaKey and its potential for creativity in April of this year. If you ever see one demonstrated, chances are that someone will be using it to play a banana piano, or a Play-Doh piano, or even a human piano. But there are far more uses than just as a piano.
I ran across this Flickr album posted by Josh Burker (@JoshBurker) that pretty much shows every instrument in the orchestra integrated with MaKey MaKey. Josh had the opportunity to be the “Maker in Residence” for the Westport, Connecticut Public Library for a month this summer. As you can see from his Flickr album and this video, you can do a lot with cardboard, conductive tape, MaKey MaKey, and Scratch – especially if you are a kid with an endless imagination and a bit of adult guidance.
My absolute favorite piece is the bird. You will find a video on the 2nd page that details the creation of the bird and its numerous amazing abilities. The 11-year-old girl who came up with this brilliant device is as articulate as she is innovative.
I am really inspired to challenge my students to find a unique way to use the MaKey MaKey when we do this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge. Since we only have one for our classroom, I plan to have a contest and whoever proposes the best idea will get to use it for their game. Josh Burker’s collection of images will help the students to see the amazing potential of this tool.
This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders. My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.” Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged. You can see the post I did on the winners here. During the second week, the students created theme park mascots, and Braeden the Master of Puppetry was our judge. Here is the link to that post.
Our third week of our online “Make a Theme Park” class invited the students to create songs for their theme parks. Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky), who is an amazing music teacher and Master of Making I connected with through Twitter, was our judge for the week. As usual, the creativity and variety in the submissions thoroughly impressed me! Our judge was dazzled as well, and had a very difficult time choosing the winner. There were songs created with Garage Band, piano, Scratch, and even a muffin tin with wrenches! My daughter and I tried to create one with Incredibox and iMovie – but somehow lost the sound :( In the end, Mr. Medvinsky chose the Kittyana Jones Theme Song that was created with Scratch. You can see and hear all of the songs submitted, as well as Mr. Medvinsky’s wonderful comments by going to our Padlet.
For today’s Phun Phriday post, I have a few examples of some unusual ways to make music. As my students explore this with our new MaKey MaKey, I have become more aware of alternative musical instruments. I am awed by the creativity exemplified in these videos!
Pringles Cans Playable Organ
Feel Flavor Playable Poster
It’s time for state-wide testing in my neck of the woods. Even though we are not allowed to have computers on during the test, you might want to consider using GoNoodle after the test, particularly for students who have been sitting for awhile. They also recently added a feature called, “Flow,” which helps with stress.
I mentioned GoNoodle a while back in a post I did on “Physical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break.” Shortly afterward, I started meeting with my new Kinder GT students twice a week. On Fridays, they miss Kinder Cafe (when the students go to the gym once a week to dance to different songs) to come to my class. Last year, the students didn’t seem to mind. But, this year I nearly had a mutiny on my hands. Even though, they only meet with me for an hour on Fridays, and we barely sit down the entire time, it was clear they needed a “Brain Break.” So, I thought I would give GoNoodle a try.
GoNoodle is free. You can register your class (no individual student names necessary) and then get started. It’s a fun way to gamify being physical for your entire class. I usually choose a student randomly with Class Dojo to pick that day’s GoNoodle activity. (“Let it Go” and “Everything is Awesome” are huge favorites.) There are lots of videos to choose from – some including more physical activity than others. Go Noodle keeps track of the time spent on the video, and gives the class points toward the next level.
The students enjoy the goofy looking characters and the silly pieces of trivia they offer. But, of course, they enjoy the music and dancing the best. Admittedly, not a lot of dancing goes on with “Let it Go.” It’s actually more of a sing-along with dramatic magical gestures :)
If you are wondering about the appeal to older students, you might want to check out this post from @TechNinjaTodd about the way he uses GoNoodle with 5th graders.
Note: If you are in a district that blocks YouTube, you may have some trouble accessing some of the videos. Our district allows us to log-in, but the first time I tried to go directly “Be Happy” through GoNoodle without logging in, I had a group of very disappointed Kinders!
If you want to spend the best $50 ever on a classroom supply or birthday gift, then I would highly recommend Makey Makey – touted as “the invention kit for everyone.”
For today’s Phun Phriday post, I bring to you the most versatile piece of computer hardware that I’ve ever used. I’ve seen MaKey MaKey demonstrated at several conferences and STEM events, but yesterday was the first time I set one up out of the box. The good news for anyone who doesn’t think that you are technologically gifted is that setting it up is astoundingly simple. Don’t be fooled by the complicated looking circuit-board thingy and ten thousand wires. Seriously.
To get going with MaKey MaKey, hook up the included USB cord to the board, and the other end to your computer. There are no drivers or software installations. Hook alligator clips (ato the board and to whatever you want to use to conduct electricity to the board. When I say, “whatever,” I mean it. As long as it conducts electricity, you’re good. Bananas, Play-Do, people, pencil drawings on a piece of paper, and stairs have all been demonstrated on various videos to be good crowd-pleasers.
The MaKey MaKey instructions give you a few websites that you can go to, but you don’t have to use them. Basically, you can do anything with the board, that you can do with a computer keyboard. Just attach the alligator clips (and be sure to hold one that’s attached to the “Earth” section) to whatever commands you want to give the computer. There are different spaces on the MaKey MaKey board for the arrow keys, space bar, etc… You could even attach a clip (assuming you have that many) to each letter in the alphabet.
Of course, you can type your name with a set of bananas. But my students were immediately fascinated with the piano on our first try. I’ve embedded a video below of one of my students using Play-Doh as the piano keys.
I’ve learned with these types of things that the best thing to do is just stand back and let the students explore. They tend to do the same thing at first, but once they get comfortable the magic happens. That’s when they start getting creative, and popping out crazy ideas that might just work. We just got the MaKey MaKey, so I’m really looking forward to next week when they come back to class after mulling over the possibilities in their heads.
I am very thankful to the parent who donated our Makey Makey, and urge all of you to find a way to get at least one for your classroom. You might want to invest in some extra alligator clip wires ( I know that’s not what they’re called, but that’s what I call them) so you can hook up as many parts of the MaKey MaKey as you like. The kit comes with 6.
MaKey MaKey was developed by the M.I.T. Media Lab, the same group who created Scratch. M.I.T. Media Lab is currently running a free online course that I posted about a couple of weeks ago called Learning Creative Learning. They also currently have a Kickstarter project for Scratch Jr., an iPad app.