For my Course 5 final project I chose to re-invent the Ancient Egypt unit by integrating even more technology and going even deeper by introducing MinecraftEdu to Year 3 students and creating the Ancient Egyptian civilisation. Last year at the beginning of the year we did the same unit but our main mode of presentation was MS Power Point – students went on a web quest to find information regarding different aspects of the life in Ancient Egypt like daily life, food, pyramids, mummification and hieroglyphics. This year the students went on a web quest to find out the same information as last year and re-create it as much as possible using MinecraftEdu.
There are fine Year 3 classes and we had six sessions with each of them. Most of the kids were familiar with Minecraft or played it once at least. We spent the first lesson going on a web quest and finding out about daily life, hieroglyphics, pyramids – students researched for the pyramids’ size, the materials they were built with, sketched a few pyramids on their worksheets in order to have a visual during the re-creation process. During the second lesson I introduced MinecraftEdu and we explored an already created Ancient Egypt world which I found online. It was a great opportunity to go over the basics of MinecraftEdu, practice using navigation keys and inventory menu. We went inside a pyramid, explored temples and houses, had a look how Sphinhs and Anubis were built.
I was very lucky to find an Ancient Egypt mod which had many Ancient Egyptian building blocks to use. I installed this mod after my second lesson, after the students had already started building, and it transformed all the structures turning them into Ancient Egyptian style. The students were thrilled. So was I!:-)
I was hesitating whether to go ahead with this project or not and I am so happy that I did! The students really enjoyed their projects.
- First of all, the level of their collaboration was a way higher than I expected. The students formed groups and discussed their projects, how they wanted to build their structures, why they needed water running near the houses, what the structures were built with. They used lots of decoration blocks to decorate their structures to make them look beautiful but they understand what the actual pyramids and temples were built with.
- It took them some time to figure out how to build a pyramid – how to attach a row of blocks to the edge of another row but they did it on their own and can be proud of themselves.
- Although they did a great job with pyramids and temples I should admit that the houses they built look more like modern rather than ancient Egyptian. (I can not be hard on the students for this – half of them used Minecraft a couple of times in the life but I can be hard on myself, I guess:-). Probably we should have invested more time into looking at the architecture of the Ancient Egypt.
- Another thing we did not have enough time for is labelling. My idea was to add labels to the pyramids stating their names, sizes, and the dates they were built.
- I feel that it would probably have gone better if we had worked in the same building area instead of having five separate areas so that the students could continue building on what the previous class had built. In this case we would have more time to finish what we planned and pay more attention to details.
- Looking back and comparing this unit with the last year’s Power Point presentation, I see that the students made the same amount of research but instead of putting slides with pictures together and typing, they just created their own version of Ancient Egypt. It’s far from being perfect but they gained invaluable experience of creating and collaborating.
Ancient Egypt World (this is the world we used at the very beginning to let the students explore and practice their navigation skills. It can be downloaded here). If you want your students to access this world from their computers, you just need to install it on your computer only and allow for the server access.
Ancient Egypt Resource Pack (it contains many building blocks in the Ancient Egyptian style. It can be downloaded here). If you want your students to use this resource pack on their computers, you need to install it on each student’s computer and Select this resource pack in Options – Resource packs on each computer.