Minecraft!

minecraftThe game that everyone seems to love has finally arrived in our house! For some reason I’d been holding out until we could get a decent computer set up for the girls to run Minecraft on, and then it hit me that a friend of ours plays it on the PS3, and… well, we have a PS3!! So, I downloaded it.

The girls were beside themselves with excitement. We’ve had the game for three weeks now and I don’t think there has been a single day that they haven’t been dying to play it. And quite frankly, I have been stunned with how quickly they picked it up. Lauren struggled with the controls for all of a day before she got the hang of it, and they build SO fast these days.

The beauty of having it on the PS3 is that the two big girls can play it together, and we only need the one account. They take turns generating worlds, and are actually being really mindful of the other. I was surprised. Even when their friend came to play in their world, there were no issues. They ask each other before they do anything (Can I build here? Can I live in this particular building of yours? Is it okay if I add/change this), they never break something someone else has built – so courteous and respectful, which is wonderful! I actually think it’s improved their play outside of the game, because they are now more aware of the effort that other people put into things.

Anyway, I’ve given them free reign over the school holidays. They play for several hours a day, and spend a couple more watching minecraft videos on youtube (Stampey is their fav), getting ideas which they then take back into their own worlds. Lauren wanted to know a good way to build a castle, so they watched a video on that and then she went and made her own version of it. Pretty cool! The complexity of their buildings is increasing daily, as are the number of buildings they develop. Not knowing a lot about the game myself, I’ve not been able to give them any instruction and they are learning as they go. It’s wonderful.

Because I like to use their passions to help with home schooling, I’ve been kicking around some ideas for how we can use Minecraft to expand their knowledge even more. There are quite a few places online that offer lessons for homeschoolers using Minecraft, but I think because we’re using the PS3 version, and are in different times zones, that might not work so well. So this morning I broached the topic and asked how they would feel if we did some learning about different cultures and times in history, and then they could work on building villages from those times and cultures.

They thought that was an awesome idea! They are always looking for new things to build.

I suggested we start here at home, with a Maori Pa. I have heaps of resources from New Zealands history, so this is a no brainer. We have already done quite a lot of learning there and I don’t think it will take them long to learn the basics and design their own. The school term officially begins on Monday, and I’m dying to see how this plays out. Looking forward to sharing with you how it goes!

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Term One Planning

Yesterday morning was a beautiful, peaceful day. Summer seems to have finally arrived and so I did a little gardening while the kids jumped on the trampoline, and then we got some paper and a pen and sat down outside to do some brainstorming.

The following are some of the ideas we came up with – they aren’t fully fleshed out, but they will give you an idea of the kinds of things the girls want to learn about, and incorporates some of their most recent interests, and some new ones. This list does not include all the basics, like english, maths, and science, and while other subjects which are part of the core of the NZ Curriculum are not specifically named, there is plenty of room to cover them in the topics the girls have chosen. Also, on top of ‘school’ stuff, each of the girls takes a dance class, and Ivy is a Brownie – Lauren will be a Pippin as soon as we can find someone to be the Pippin leader, and Natalie is already keen to start coming along too. They have a wide group of friends, both home schooled and traditionally schooled, and as of this term, have some special time lined up to hang out with their Nana’s from both sides of the family, which is pretty awesome!

I think the only real challenge here will be how on earth we manage to fit it all in 😉 As always, this is flexible and will no doubt change over the course of the term, with some of these things extending beyond term one, such as swimming lessons. That is one of the beauties of home schooling – you can follow your kids leads, and tumble head first into whatever their passions may be, which means they are super engaged and motivated. Love it!

Topics of the term:

We’re going on a Moa Hunt – inspired by the Going on a Bear Hunt book (which is currently Natalie’s favourite book). We’ll learn all about the Moa – what it ate, where it lived, why it became extinct (which might flare out into the wider issue of why things become extinct and looking at other animals which are in danger of extinction, and what we might be able to do to prevent that from happening), visiting the museum where there are some Moa bones, and ending with a day of bushwalking in areas where the Moa might have lived, going on a ‘Moa Hunt’ maybe looking for the things it used to eat and places it might have lived, and then we can make up our own Moa Hunt book.

Triptych art – how did it come about? who were the first people to use it? Looking at all the different styles, and choosing our favourite ones to make a collage out of. Trying to make our own triptychs with a variety of mediums – paint, photography, collage, mixed media, exploring whatever theme they want. (I can’t wait to do this myself!!!)

Monarch butterflies – they are out at the moment and the girls want to learn all about them, and get some swan plants to see if we can attract some of our own, and watch through the process. It’s a reasonably short project which introduces a good working knowledge of life cycles.

Buildings – Ivy expressed a desire to look at buildings and make buildings, so I suggested we look at some famous ones so we can learn about them and their designs, and then try to copy those designs in different mediums. I asked if she’d like to do some field trips where we go out and draw architectural features around New Plymouth and she thought that was a good idea.

Swimming – the girls all expressed a desire to get back into the pool! I’m keen too, seeing as we’ve avoided it all summer with the holidays on, it gets too crowded and the kids don’t enjoy it so much. I will find the swimming resources that I got from the swim training course last term and we can do some age/skill appropriate learning which we can then practice in the pools to help them improve their swimming skills.

Stories – all the girls love stories. Lauren has started telling a lot and asking me to write them down, and Ivy is really enjoying writing stories as well. Natalie is always telling them, and I will start writing them down for her so that she has a record of them. So this term they want to do more reading and writing, as well as trying to turn some of their stories into scripts that they can then make into movies. Ivy in particular is very keen to make some movies, and the younger girls, to act in them. I really want to foster this love of story and their beautiful imaginations at this point, so we’re focusing on that angle for now, rather than getting everything right. I can see already from their desire to dress up as different characters that we’ll be experimenting with costume design and creation as well.

Natalie wants to learn something about ballet, most likely because she has her first lesson back this afternoon and is VERY excited about it 😉 I’ll find something interesting for her to do which means she can learn some more about ballet.