Makey Makey Meets Hungry Hungry Hippo

Two weeks ago, prior my CEP 811 class starting, I needed to order a maker kit.  After a lot of research and evaluation, I ended up choosing the Makey Makey Classic kit.  The reasoning behind my choice is that the Makey Makey kit seemed safe, easy to use, and age appropriate for kindergarten.  This week in my class we were asked to put our maker kits to use. I began by first looking up Makey Makey on the direct website, reviewing all the different tabs and really seeing how people “played” with Makey Makey.  I started documenting different pages using Evernote, that way I had all of my resources in one area that I could then refer back to when needed.  Once I felt ready, I got my Makey Makey kit out and made sure that I had all the correct items inside of it.  I needed to experiment with it in order to see how it worked through my own experiences, trial and error.  During this time of research and play, I continued to brainstorm ways that I could use the Makey Makey in a lesson when teaching my kindergartners.  I have recently been teaching about syllables and how students can count the number of syllables in a word.  I was hoping that I could relate this project to syllables and create a lesson for my students using the Makey Makey kit.  So my adventure began…

During the week, I visited two different Salvation Army stores in my area.  I didn’t quite have anything in mind exactly, but was hoping for a game that my students might know that I could adapt and use with the Makey Makey kit.  I browsed through both Salvation Army stores without any inspiration or ideas but was hoping something would catch my eye.  I was wanting an “Aha!” moment and for a wonderful idea to pop into my head.  Although we would all like for assignments to be that easy, it doesn’t always happen.  Unfortunately, I walked out of both Salvation Army’s with nothing in hand and no brilliant ideas in my head.  At this point, I was feeling discouraged, stressed, and thinking that this assignment was impossible.  I gave myself some time to think over the next day or so, continued to watch YouTube videos trying to get more ideas and hoping to catch something that would spark an idea.  I knew I wanted to do something with syllables, wanted to make it fun, and do something that I hadn’t seen yet.  It wasn’t until late Thursday evening, the game Hungry Hungry Hippo popped into my head.

This is a game that I played as a child and LOVED!  The only problem was, I did notIMG_2692.JPG own the game nor know anyone who did.  I went back to the Salvation Army to see if I could get lucky in finding it, now knowing what I was looking for and had no luck once again.  I then turned to social media and put out the question for my friends to see, hoping my personal learning network could be of some help.  With nobody knowing what I needed the game for, I had some funny comments about other games like Pretty Pretty Princess or an adult version of Hungry Hungry Hippo (which was hilarious).  However, these comments didn’t lead me to get my hands on the game at all.  Luckily, I work in a school, was talking about my assignment and my idea when the after school care worker overheard me and said “I think we have the game in the closet.”  I got extremely excited and walked with her to check and see.  A few minutes later, a big smile on my face, and Ta-Da! I had the game in my hands!  Now, it was on to trying to figure out a way to use it to create a lesson using Hungry Hungry Hippo and my Makey Makey kit.

Here is a step-by-step how-to guide in getting my prototype setup.

Materials needed:

  • Laptop
  • Tin foil
  • Makey Makey Classic kit
  • Hungry Hungry Hippo game


  1. Take out the Hungry Hungry Hippo game and remove the marbles.
  2. Go to a virtual keyboard, drum, etc. on your computer.  I chose the Piano for this lesson, but you may choose whichever.  You can find others that work with Makey Makey here.  Scroll down to Try Out Software and chose the one you wish to use.
  3. Open up your Makey Makey kit and take out the red USB cord.IMG_2699.JPG
  4. Plug it into the USB drive in your computer.IMG_2695.JPG
  5. Then hook the other end into the maker board (a red light should come on once connected).IMG_2696.JPG
  6. Next, take one alligator clip and hook it into the Earth section on the board.  IMG_2698.JPG
  7. Take the other end of the alligator clip and connect it to yourself (you can do this by holding the metal part between your fingers).IMG_2701.JPG
  8. Next, cover each handle on the Hungry Hippos with tinfoil (in order to make it a conductor).IMG_2700.JPG
  9. Then take a new alligator clip and place it on the arrow pointing left on the maker board.IMG_2702.JPG
  10. Now connect the other end of the alligator clip to the hippo that is to your left on the Hungry Hungry Hippo game.IMG_2703.JPG
  11. Repeat with the rest of the arrows on the maker board (connecting them to the matching hippo).IMG_2704.JPG
  12. Now we are ready to test it out!  With your piano (or whichever musical device you chose) pulled up on your computer, give it a try!  Be sure you are “grounded” (have the alligator click connected to earth in-between your fingers).  Tap the tinfoil on the Hungry Hungry Hippo and you should hear the piano play a tune!

Now moving to the classroom aspect of this.  I have created this to use when teaching syllables.  I currently use a saying “Words go up, words go down, this is how ______ sounds” as my students and I clap out the word.  Over the past two weeks we have been focusing on syllables and they have been doing an excellent job.  In order to make it a little more fun, interesting, and integrate technology, my goal is to use the Makey Makey and Hungry Hungry Hippo together!

When I practice these skills with students, I usually have a small group at my table consisting of 4-6 students.  In this case, I would only be able to have 4 with me.  Each student will take a turn.  I will give them a word such as ‘cupcake’ and they will have to tap the tinfoil on the Hungry Hungry Hippo for however many syllables are in the word (in this case 2 times).  If they get it right, I will then allow them to push the handle completely down, releasing the Hungry Hippo all the way.  If they answered incorrectly, the next student will be given the opportunity to try it.  We will continue going around in a circle, counting out the syllables in words, hearing the piano play as we tap the hippo.  This allows for the students to hear the syllables (with the piano noise playing), tap it out, and then have an incentive of pushing the handle down completely when answering correctly.  It also allows me to work with four students at once rather than one on one using the Makey Makey.  Check out my video below for a demonstration.

I am so excited to try this in my classroom, see my students reactions, and most importantly identify any issues that arise and determine how to fix them.  If you are interested in trying this out yourself, please do!  I would love some feedback and details on how you adapted this to fit your own classroom needs.  Good luck and have fun playing!

Multimodal elements:  Multimodal elements help for readers to see first hand how to recreate what I have just done using Makey Makey and the Hungry Hungry Hippo game.  The pictures enable a visual learner more understanding as well as the video.  Viewers are able to get more of a first hand look and experience with my project than if it were just reading.  The pictures and videos also help to break up the reading and keep the viewer interested.


Brown, L. (2015). “Makey Makey Meets Hungry Hungry Hippo” [Images]. Retrieved from: personal photos

Brown, L. (2015). “Makey Makey Meets Hungry Hungry Hippo” [Video File]. Retrieved from: personal videos

JoyLabz LLC. (2012-2015). “HOW TO: Quick Start Guide” [Website]. Retrieved from:

JoyLabz LLC. (2012-2015). “Piano” [Software]. Retrieved from: