Thursday, April 16, 2015

Habitat Study: What Do Animals Need?

Second grade is learning about what animals need in order to survive. We decided to experiment with using Minecraft as a way to explore more about that topic.

First, I created a guide for students to get started. I only included animals that are available in the 1.6.4 build 20 version we have running right now, but eventually I'd like to install the MoCreatures mod and give students many more choices. I wanted to include a research piece to tie this lesson more firmly into the curriculum, and I knew everyone could easily access PebbleGo to complete this part. I searched PebbleGo for each of these animals before putting them on the sheet so that nobody would be confused if the animal wasn't available.

We created our set of rules and expectations and reviewed them each time we met in the lab. Our project took three one-hour sessions. Most students stayed on-task, but a couple of students needed some reminders about the goal of the project: create a habitat that would enable your chosen animal to survive, and place signs around your area telling readers why you chose to build what you did. If you completed that part of the assignment, then you could make an environment that would not be a good habitat for your animal and explain why.

Reflections about this project:

  • I chose to use a pre-built world with individual building areas to keep students from getting in each other's way. I would do this again, but modify the spawn area to make it easier to get to your assigned work site.
  • I would use mods to make the project more intricate for older students, but this was a good introduction to Minecraft for 2nd graders. I think it would also work for 1st grade and maybe Kindergarten.
  • Having students sketch out their habitats with labels in a notebook before coming to the lab would yield better results. I had some kids who could not focus on the information part while in-game, so their projects would likely have been better quality with more work completed in-class. 
Check out some screenshots below:

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