Twas’ the weeks before Christmas and all through the schools, the students were using Minecraft: Education Edition to Play, Craft and Learn! December is a busy month in schools, full of excitement and joy as the holiday season approaches.
It’s no secret. Students love to create using Minecraft: Education Edition. It’s also no secret that Minecraft helps students at all levels, develop their Spatial Thinking skills (also commonly referred to as Spatial Reasoning Skills). Spatial reasoning includes mathematical concepts such as creating or designing objects, orienting, scaling up or down, imagining objects moving in space, decomposing shapes, seeing connections between 2D and 3D shapes and perspective-taking. I’ve had students learn and explore various math concepts over the past few months and decided that this month would be a great time to consolidate their math learning while incorporating literacy skills by creating a Santa’s Village.
Yes! Santa’s Village! Our process started by brainstorming structures or elements we would include in Santa’s Village. Students’ enthusiastically responded with buildings such as Santa’s workshop, elves homes, candy shops, present factories, reindeer stables etc. Students then chose groups of 3-4 to work collaboratively.
A host was chosen from each group to download a seed. When discussing where Santa’s village would be built, North Pole was the obvious answer so, we needed a snowy biome.
Once the snowy biome was set, the students got to work, exploring the biome to find the perfect area to start building their village. One student taught others how to incorporate commands to fill land in a more efficient way. Another student was busy researching names of the reindeer.
As the students worked away, their snowy Santa villages were coming to life with details. Santa’s Villages were adorned with candy cane poles, Christmas trees sprinkled with snow and decorated with ornaments, workshops busy with elves, a dungeon for the Grinch, and even tracks were set up with carts to move the toys.
The village was then hit with a blizzard of snowflakes which they had never seen happen in Minecraft. Cheers rang out for the virtual snowfall and snowmen were built.
To capture student voice and enable them to add a literacy piece, students were given a choice to either set up a ‘board’, publish a story using the ‘book and quill’, or add a Non Player Character (NPC) to have characters give greeting, introductions or instructions.
Students are continuing to build their Santa’s Village and are being inspired by classmates when sharing their worlds.
It’s snow joke. Using technology to leverage student engagement across the curriculum is a positive way to inspire life long love of learning and develop 21st century skills. There is always room for a little bit of creativity and imagination within Math and Literacy. Try it out! Your students will thank you for it.
Special thanks to Ammar Aquil (Microsoft Modern Classroom Experience Manager) for the ongoing Minecraft Support and to Benjamin Kelly (@BBTNB) for the snowy biome seed.
Author: Evelin Niemiec. Elementary School Teacher. Currently Math Special Assignment Teacher (Math Coach) with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, in Ontario, Canada.
Get access to Minecraft: Education Edition and free resources, lesson plans and a community of mentors at education.minecraft.net