With the huge popularity of Minecraft with elementary-age students many teachers are exploring ways to incorporate this building game in the classroom. Minecraft is basically about placing and mining blocks of different types of materials to build just about anything the user can imagine. The game world consists of 3D objects—mainly cubes—that represent materials such as dirt, stone, various ores and woods. Players gather these material blocks and use them to form various constructions. (Drzewiecki, 2016). Using Minecraft in the classroom is an intriguing way to engage students and help bring a topic alive through hands-on experience. The students can work in teams to create a Minecraft project, exploring and comparing solutions to a specific school assignment. This addresses the fourth component of ISTE Standard 4: Explore and compare solutions with various technology tools.
Allowing students to work on Minecraft projects in the classroom can be beneficial to their life-long learning skills. Minecraft gives students the freedom to create and push their imaginations to the limit, it helps students work on their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and it helps students work together in a positive classroom environment (Drzewiecki, 2016). One example of using Minecraft in the classroom is with a social studies project. A social studies teacher can assign a project where students have to create a community similar to one they are studying about in their current history unit. In a recent Edutopia article about gaming and coding, the author reviews a 5th grade social studies project where the students work as a team to create a Minecraft community and they face many of the same issues as the Pilgrims coming to the new world. Minecraft is more than a game to these fifth graders. It is a simulation, a learning environment and a morality play all wrapped up in one incredibly engaging, shared experience. It makes a powerful impression (Kiang, 2014).
In addition, there are several programs that teach students the basics of coding using a Minecraft model. My 5th grade son’s elementary school class used a program like this and my son raved about it. He would come home from school talking about the Minecraft game he created and couldn’t wait to get back to school to work more on his project. The beauty of using a fun tool like Minecraft in the classroom is that the students are having so much fun they don’t even realize their learning!
Unfortunately, with the limited time and resources available it would be difficult to incorporate Minecraft into an elementary school physical education setting. This type of technology tool is definitely best left in a regular classroom environment.
Drzewiecki, J (2016). Why Educators Should Use Minecraft in the Classroom. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/benefits-minecraft-classroom-students.shtml.
Kiang, D. (2014). 3 ways coding and gaming can enhance learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/coding-and-gaming-enhance-learning-Douglas-kiang.