The excitement at Blair Elementary is growing with the news that they are going to be installing a new playground in the near future. Fundraising is in full swing but one thing remains to be decided – the plan for what features will be in the playground. April Chan, the school librarian, teaches a gifted group each week and she proposed that the students make a plan for the playground.
Students in the school were surveyed to find out their favourite parts of both the existing playground and the playground at a nearby community centre. Students then brainstormed materials and ideas for making the playground and sketched it out.
Then they created a model of the playground with various materials, including wooden skewers, pipe cleaners, plasticine, paper towel rolls and more. Students used problem solving, cooperation, creative thinking and communication skills while working on their models. One aspect that was reinforced throughout was the processes used during the project. Students wrote reflections in their ‘Inquiry Journals’ and used these to help guide them through the process.
Two groups took the planning stage to the next level and created a minecraft version of their playground. To create these virtual models, students used cooperation, a lot of problem solving, spatial sense and creative thinking.
For teachers who want to take the leap of using Minecraft in the classroom, there are countless online resources – ideas of how to get started and ideas of how to integrate Minecraft into your curriculum. A great starting place is the recent post on Edutopia. Another great starting place is with your students – ask them how many kids play on Minecraft and ideas of how to get started. It won’t be for all students in your classroom, but providing this as an option for students might create an engagement level never before seen in some of your students.