Lil’ Minecrafters: Day 1

Today was the first day of my newest workshop: Lil’ Minecrafters! I chose to develop this workshop for rising 1st and 2nd graders. I knew I was taking on a big challenge with this age group, but if you know me, you know I went for it anyway! This was a different version of my Minecraft Makershop for the older students. Lil’ Minecrafters was developed with the assistance of a 7th grade student a few months ago. I still felt that it was above the level of the students I would have, but I needed to start somewhere and test my work.

This morning I dressed in my Steve gear. This week I had a diamond sword, and I brought my crocheted creeper named Jax. He was a gift from my Secret Santa on Reddit a couple of years ago.

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I grabbed my littles and gave them their instructions. Off we went to our classroom. I had been having issues with getting Minecraft loaded that morning, so I was hoping that enough time would pass that it would work. In the meantime we had a morning meeting and I explained things to the students. I was able to get them logged in, though I’m hoping to avoid that tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Our first lesson was on the PC controls. If any of my kids had played Minecraft before, it was on a tablet or the console versions. I was correct to assume that none of them had played on the PC. We reviewed controls and I demonstrated. Then I let them try their hand at the controls. Some students did pretty well picking them up quickly, but others were easily stuck in holes or behind objects. I definitely heard a lot of “I’m stuck in a hole!”, but we worked through it. I knew it was practice that they needed.

While they learned the controls, I let them build whatever they wanted with the blocks to assist in their learning. Some of them concocted odd structures, while others accidentally broke their classmates’ blocks.

After some time had passed, we began a discussion on houses and why people need houses. We also talked about what goes in a house. I gave these students the same requirements as the older kids: walls on all sides, 1 window, roof, and a door. I let them begin trying to build, and that was probably not the best of ideas. Unlike the older students, these students started stacking blocks and left them as they sat. There was no rhyme or reason to the shape at all. Still, I let them have some time doing this, as it helped them learn the controls better.

I then used the board in the room that is laid out like graph paper. I demonstrated how to use it to draw a layout, and the kids then did the same. They then turned to Minecraft, and were only asked to do the layout first. From there we talked about the floor. This worked better, as more of them understood what to do. There were still issues, but this was to be expected. I watched the students try to draw on the graph paper, and some got it, most did not.

Therefore, tomorrow we are going to start with the graph paper on doing simple shape layouts, and then putting those into Minecraft. From there we’ll work on the floor, and the walls once again, and hopefully by the end of tomorrow we’ll end up with a house. This is going to revamp much of my workshop plans, which is totally fine. They will still be able to do the final project and demonstrate their knowledge.

I do want them to learn how to plan on graph paper though, as it’s a skill that carries on into their academics and into the higher KidsCollege courses with Minecraft. If I can find my notebook, I’m going to take it in tomorrow, as it’s where I made my first layout designs in Minecraft. I think I am going to take the students to the room next door to the computer lab, as I can sit the students in groups and they can draw easier on the graph paper. It also makes it easier for me to work with them, without the pain of navigating the horrible computer lab set up or the students being distracted by the computers.

Once the graph paper part is computer, then we’ll translate the drawing to Minecraft, add the floor, walls, roof, windows, and a door. I’m not sure if I’ll get to decorating the interior or not, but we’ll see. We just need to have Thursday and Friday to work on their final project. I know that will take awhile.

Unlike the dance parties we had with the older class, I have done something a little different with this crew. I took the children’s song “Going on a Bear Hunt” and revamped it to fit the Minecraft world. I use the tune of Dr. Jean’s version. Today we went through the song and the motions little by little. I think they’ve got it, and I’m pleased. They will perform it for their families on Friday during the final showcase. I’ll share a copy of it once I’m sure I’ve got everything fixed just the way I want it.

Check out some of these shots from our server. We are learning and having fun!

Ready for Day 2!

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