Maths and PSHE: Building Brilliance Block By Block
In recent lessons, Year 5 and 6 pupils have explored the use of MinecraftEdu, a ‘school-ready remix’ of the original chart-topping videogame ‘Minecraft’, to enhance their learning.
Already in use in schools in over 40 countries, this software contains many additions to the original game that make it more useful and appropriate in a school setting; after seeing the children experimenting with the software in Minecraft Club each week, the faculty and I have set to using the package to enrich elements of the main curriculum.
Some pupils in Year 5 have used ‘MinecraftEdu’ this term in Maths to produce models that help them visualise the Area and Perimeter of shapes, for example. Pupils were placed in a virtual environment in which they could work together, developing their collaboration skills in the process, to solve various challenges.
It was surprising how easily the pupils adapted to working in such an environment, with little explanation needed of how to control their character; this ensured they could get straight down to applying their Maths skills.
Pupils in Year 6 also solved ratio problems using Minecraft in their Maths lessons. The block-based building tools within the game are ideal for exploring topics like this, where visual aids are invaluable and where the pupils had an unlimited supply of resources with which to build various models and achieve set goals.
Some Year 6 pupils have even used MinecraftEdu in PSHE this term, as part of our ‘Community’ topic. The children were given a derelict wasteland within a virtual world that they had to ‘clean up’ and repurpose, and in doing so they explored the ways in which natural sites could be developed for a community’s benefit.
The children started by filling in holes in the landscape, removing broken ‘glass’ and digging up weeds, then moved on to considering what resources different members of a community might benefit from.
The children then worked in teams to build virtual cafés, play parks and a community hall, with their ideas about what should work then put through stress tests as part of a simulation.
Of course there is no risk that Bede’s Prep School will disappear completely from the physical world only to exist in Minecraft, but as a suite of tools with near-endless resources within it there is no doubt that there are ways in which we, as teachers, can use Minecraft to hugely enrich topics we have explored in the classroom.