Minecraft – I’m sure over the past couple of years you’ve come across at least the mention of Minecraft. It is one of the most popular games in the world. It is played by millions of children across different platforms around the world.
I have to admit, up until just over a year ago I dismissed it as just another game that children loved playing, just as I had loved, and still do, playing FIFA football games. Then I got around to thinking, imagine I had walked into my classroom as a P5 child back in the 90s and the teacher had said that we were going to use FIFA in a Literacy or Numeracy lesson. I would have loved it. As would a lot of children. We would have been instantly engaged and ready for learning – this is essentially what Gamification is.
Minecraft can be used in the classroom not only to engage and inspire, but to aid and develop learning in Literacy, Numeracy, W.A.U. and Digital Citizenship. You will probably be asking yourself, how on Earth can this be used in the classroom? Well, perhaps you are a P5 teacher and you are trying to think of a few Guided Reading activities for your new class in September. The children could be reading Roald Dahl’s The Twits. Why not ask them to build the story setting in the Minecraft World. Or, perhaps you will be studying Vikings. Children could be working on a recount text, writing about a day in the life of a Viking child. The children could then recreate a Viking village in the Minecraft World, complete with blacksmiths, farms and a ready for battle Viking Longship.
Because Minecraft is a sandbox game, children can design, create and build absolutely anything. If you think of it as a digital version of lego, using a range of different materials, or blocks as the children call them, you can build the Giant’s Causeway to scale, complete with a coastline and water. Perhaps the children are studying Castles in P2. They could visit Dunluce Castle, write a short recount text about their experiences then create the castle in the Minecraft World, complete with towers, turrets, drawbridges and moats. Think of the learning and discussions along the way.
More importantly – it could be an excellent way for children to engage with their parents. If at school you make parents aware of how you might be using Minecraft in the classroom, parents could discuss with their children at home what they have been building, how it links with school work, what materials they are using and why they are using them.
As a teacher you might think that you have no idea of how to set up Minecraft for use in the classroom. Click on the following link to view a video showing how to access the Minecraft World for use in the classroom. Accessing a Minecraft World.
Below I have included a few screenshots of structures that children have built using Minecraft Pocket Edition on the iPad.
Space Shuttle as part of Reach for the Stars topic.
Three Little Pigs – Storyboarding with Foundation Stage pupils.
Viking Longship as part of Raiders and Traders topic.
Letter formation in Foundation Stage.