Mar 13, 2013

Minecraft Math

A few weeks ago, I searched for Minecraft and the best option for bringing it into the classroom. Keep in mind, I have no money and my team has no money and the school has no money. So, I settled on the Minecraft Demo from It's free! And timed! Fifth graders can't run off and build a castle instead of working on the project.

After the last benchmark, I needed to review our weak topics, but I didn't have to make it boring. I scoured the web for Minecraft activities, found several high school level lessons and lists for other subjects, and became impatient. So, I came up with my own activities. Six of them.

I wrote up the assignment sheet. I used screenshots from my full version and created ShowMe videos, illustrating the end results. Once the videos were uploaded, I made QR codes and added them to the assignment sheet. While one partner used graph paper to plan the task, the other partner gathered materials and found a spot of flat land.

TASK #1: The students created a rectangle with a perimeter of 14 units. Next, they doubled the length and width, creating a second rectangle. For both rectangles, they had to calculate and post the perimeters and areas. Result: I wanted the students to learn that doubling the dimensions would double the perimeter but quadruple the area.

TASK #2: The students created a tower of prime numbers. Initially, I asked for the first 10, but, after watching the speedy groups take forever, I let the groups stop after 6 or 7 rows. Result: I wanted them to remember the first few prime numbers. Not only were they saying the numbers over and over, they were building the only possible arrays.

TASK #3: The students created three towers with the same height and different depths. From one direction, the towers looked identical. Result: I hoped that they would notice that equivalent fractions are the same but different. Admittedly, I cheated on this one. Fractions are huge in the fifth grade, so I had to have an equivalent fractions task. Ideally, like fraction strips, the towers should be the same width and height--just divided differently. As it is, my students did some ratio work. That's okay.

TASK #4: The students converted an in-game object into other objects. With the time constraint, converting wood into planks or sticks or fences were the most obvious choices. Result: I wanted them to "physically" convert objects.

TASK #5: The students transformed a design with reflection, rotation, and translation. Result: With the new and improved state test, the students are asked to transform figures before finding an ordered pair, so I wanted them to practice the act of moving the design.

TASK #6: The students gathered animals or objects, wrote the probability of choosing one type of whatever, and, using equivalent fractions, made a mathematical prediction. Result: The students make the connection that predictions are simply equivalent fractions.


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