This week I visited our local thrift store called Revive.  I had googled different squishy circuits webpages and watched several demonstrations of how the squishy circuits could be used in a math class.  Many of the examples were games that students could play so I set out looking for a game board I could possibly change into a coordinate grid.  I teach 6th grade advanced math and regular math and in both classes the students learn about the coordinate plane.  After searching through all the games I found Chinese Checkers and then had an idea to some out incorporate the Pythagorean Theorem into a game.  After sitting at the kitchen table for an hour I decided to the Chinese Checkers board wasn’t going to work.  I decided to raid my parent’s basement in hopes of finding my old Stratego board.  I found a blog form 2013 that used squishy circuits to make a coordinate plane with a Stratego board.

Exploring Squishy Circuits

Insulating dough (Blue)               Conductive dough (Red)

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 Insulating Dough Recipe           Conductive Dough Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Flour                            1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Sugar                               1 1/2 Cups Flout

3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil                    1/4 Cup Salt

1/2 Cup Deionized water               9 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

After mixing all the ingredients into a pan I continuously stirred over medium heat until the dough formed a ball.  I did this for both sets of dough, although, the insulating dough was extremely sticky and called for continues adding of small amounts of water.

The Squishy Circuits box came with a battery holder, piezoelectric buzzer, mechanical buzzer, electric motor, and 25 LED lights (red, green, white, yellow, and blue).





Using the conductive and insulating dough I created a circuit to get the lights to light up.  This was after I had explored (played) with the circuits and light for about an hour.  I had to refresh my memory about open and closed circuits.  Which wire touched which post of the LED light.


How to Create a Coordinate Plane Game

1. Label your game board with the x and y-axis and draw in the axis with permanent marker and label your numbers.

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2. Next, decide how many LED lights that you are going to use.  I used 19 lights and randomly chose points on the board.  For example I picked point (-1,1) and (-1,-1) because I want to make sure that the students know the difference between the four quadrants. I wrote the order pairs on flashcards to be used for the game.  I also labeled each quadrant a specific color so the students can check their answers.

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3.  Once I had chosen my points I use small nails and hammered each nail into the points I chose.  Caution do NOT hammer the nails into a nice table I used only plywood underneath the board to hammer my nails in.  Once the nails were hammered in I pulled them all out so I had tiny holes to put my lights through.


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4.  Next, I rolled the conductive dough into strips to cover the holes on the back of the board.  The dough was sticky enough so when I flipped the board it stuck to the board.

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5.  Next, add the LED lights to the board (recommended to stick the long end (red) through the hole)  All the lights have to have the same end going through the holes.

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back                                             front

Once all the light are in make sure that the leg (long leg) is covered by the conductive dough on the backside of the board.

Backside of board when finished

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6. Making the wand 

First, disassemble a pen and use the plastic tubing.

Second, line the inside of the tubing with conductive play dough.

Third, I added a wire I found in my dad’s tool shed to the end of the pen.

Finally,  connect the other end of the wire to the battery pack (black end).


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I added duct tape around the wire and black wire of the battery pack (hint I also added a little play dough inside the duct tape).

Final Step play the game!!!

To play draw a card with an ordered pair touch the pen to the correct ordered pair and the light should match the color written on the back of the card.  If the colors match you win that card if they colors don’t match you do not win the card and it is your partners turn.


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Demonstration on How to Play the Game




Lesson Plan

6th and 7th Grade Common Core Standards

I teach 6th and 7th grade math and both grades have Common Core Standards that address the coordinate plane.  What better way for kids to practice than creating a game!

Make tables of equivalent ratios relating quantities with whole-number measurements, find missing values in the tables, and plot the pairs of values on the coordinate plane. Use tables to compare ratios.

Explain what a point (xy) on the graph of a proportional relationship means in terms of the situation, with special attention to the points (0, 0) and (1, r) where r is the unit rate.

I would use this game as an extension activity for student they may finish their assignments early.  I might even give them the challenge of creating their own game.  I hope that this game can be used for my RTI students to help motive them and make math fun!


4 thoughts on “Thrifting

  1. I am very impressed with your maker project. I am in the MAET program over seas and was thinking about using squishy circuits for my project but then gave up because it I couldn’t figure out how to make a meaningful lesson using this tool. You did a great job and have changed my mind on the many ways to use squishy circuits. I really like how you made the circuit was interactive, the students have to complete the circuit by touching the wand to the light to see if they are correct or not. I can see many students being very excited to learn coordinates if they get to play this game. i hope your students will benefit from you hard work.

  2. Being a fellow math teacher, I really enjoyed reading how you incorporated the Squishy Circuits into graphing ordered pairs. We had very similar ideas in creating our activity! You had great luck in finding a game board to use as your base. I think that will be very helpful when using the game in the classroom. Good job!

  3. I appreciated your ideas and also the work and time that inevitably went into creating this complicated system, Jamie! I especially valued the way you highlighted and clarified the steps of your process using examples (“For example I picked point (-1,1) and (-1,-1) because I want to make sure…”). They helped me understand the specific ways your students would benefit from this game. It makes sense that you would use this game as an extension, though as I read your post, I found myself picturing it as a great anticipatory introduction to a unit, too. The project is too cool for all students not to access it, and I think it might be especially engaging and motivating for your students who find this type of learning to be particularly challenging, too! You should definitely check out Jackie’s project, ( since she similar ideas but for different content. Thanks for sharing your thinking and your process in a clear and organized way!

  4. Jamie, I enjoyed reading your blog post and watching your short demonstration. The coordinate plane can seem like a foreign language when it is first introduced; you managed to create a game that makes it seem much less threatening. I also appreciate the thought that you put into the selection of your points – choosing points that are easily confused such a (1, -1) and (-1, 1) was a smart strategy. Thank you for sharing this innovative game – it is one that your students will love!

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