Minecraft–Three City

Here’s a peek of Zoey’s Minecraft world, Three City!

This is what the city looks like from the sky.  Instead of doing the "buildings" flat, we decided to build upward for a skyscraper effect.

This is what the city looks like from the sky. Instead of doing the “buildings” flat, we decided to build upward for a skyscraper effect.  Do you like our giant 3?


This is the building that represents the fact 3 x 2. She marked each building with a sign after making them.


Here’s 3 x 3. She did all the facts up to 3 x 12.

I did help her a little by going into the world that she was working in at the same time she was doing it.  I have Minecraft on my phone and she has it on her iPad, so we sat side by side.  I built a few of the larger buildings and she counted the blocks and made the signs.  Then we decorated it a little!

My next project is going to be to make word problems with matching Minecraft models (gardens, pumpkin patches, who knows?)…I’ll let you know how that goes! =)


Virtual manipulatives

When I was a classroom teacher, I always made sure to have base-ten blocks on hand. It’s a tactile and visual tool that’s very useful in teaching place value. Handy as they may be, they can be pricey. I am happy to spend money when necessary but I’ll go to great lengths to get around it when I can! =)

I found a suitable substitute on the App Store (iOS) called Number Pieces Basic by the Math Learning Center. This free app is open-ended, meaning that you can just use the pieces as you would use real pieces (there’s no game or lesson on the app). Zoey and I will use this when working with problem solving. She is able to do arithmetic but has trouble with number sense. I think this is a product of learning rules in math before she understood what the numbers were actually doing. Having this app open when she is working on her problems is super helpful to her because she can show her thinking as she is solving the problem.

One feature I love about it is that you can group and ungroup very easily. When Zoey is adding two numbers, she can put together all the ones, tens, and hundreds. When she has enough to make a ten in a place value, she simply selects ten of the blocks and taps the grouping button. This puts those blocks together. It’s easier to understand than the “trading” that kids are often taught in school (if you have 10 ones, trade them for a tens stick).

Our set-up looks fancy and expensive, and I suppose it is, but we used things that we already had around the house. I used a tv that we already had as our monitor, and we also already had the iPad and VGA connectors. I don’t miss the tv in its old location. =) If you are interested in learning more about how to use your tv to show your iPad or iPhone screen, let me know in the comments and I might do a post on it soon! IMG_5737.JPG



Minecraft Multiplication Project #1

My 3rd grader, Zoey, loves Minecraft PE for the iPad.  It’s one of her favorite leisure activities, so naturally I found a way to use it to my advantage for homeschool (duh).

Zoey is learning her multiplication tables.  I’m trying to have her work with them in a variety of ways so she learns the concept well.  She’s mastered 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, so now we’re working on 3’s.  Since she enjoys playing Minecraft, I decided to create a project for her to build arrays for 3×1 through 3×12 and label them with the wooden signs.

I made an example for her using the two times table (since she already knew it).



For the lesson, I had her join the world I’d created the night before.  I didn’t tell her much about what I’d done.  I wanted her to figure it out for herself, which didn’t take long.  I told her that she could use this for her multiplication work to practice her 3’s.  Needless to say, she was one happy crafter.

Her project is to create the 3 times tables using Minecraft.  She commented that my world was boring. so I told her to make hers better than mine.  She’s still working on it (about halfway done) but I peeked at it and saw that she’d hidden most of the signs underground, among a few tunnels, “party rooms”, and “toilets” (she is very random and silly).  I expect that she’ll be done with it in the morning and will be eager to show it off.

She’ll also know those threes. =)




Number Photo Puzzle

number puzzle

number puzzle

I take way too many photos of my kids.  I’m sure no one else has that problem *wink*

I am also awful at keeping photo albums, framing photos, sending pictures to grandma (sorry Mom), or doing anything really productive with actual photos.

I found some pictures in my closet that had multiple copies.  I decided to take a few and turn them into schoolwork for my 3-year-old.  I glued several popsicle sticks to the back of the pictures and let them dry.  Then, using my trusty craft blade, I carefully cut them all apart.  Lastly I numbered the ends of the sticks.  Then I gave them to Penelope.

I told her to try to fix the picture, and that putting the numbers in order would help her out.  She got to work, counting aloud and looking for each number.  She enjoyed this activity a lot.  She was able to practice number recognition and putting numbers in order.   The activity was self-correcting because if she got a few numbers mixed up, the picture would not look right.  And yes, that did happen a few times!

You can practice different skills with this activity, including (but not limited to):

  • spelling your child’s name (write the letters on the ends of the popsicle sticks instead of the numbers)
  • skip counting for the older kids
  • learning your phone number

I’ll try to think of more and share later!


Color Match with LEGO bricks

Color Match with LEGO

Color Match with LEGO

**OK, so they aren’t true LEGO bricks, but it was the easiest way to describe the big fat Mega-Blok things that we have!**

I am a big cheapo, so I’m all about repurposing toys for educational use.  Penelope doesn’t play with the “big LEGOs” very much.  They were just taking up space and I was about to donate them to Goodwill before I thought about using them to teach with.  I’m glad I didn’t get rid of them!

Penelope is only 3 but she can recognize all of the letters as well as tell what sound they represent.  Therefore I’m working with her on initial sounds (paying attention to the first sound heard when saying a word).  I labeled some of her big LEGOs with color words.  Each one of these has a matching brick with a colored piece of tape on the front.  

I encourage her to pick up a brick with a piece of colored tape.  She looks at the tape and says the color she sees.  Then I ask her what sound she hears at the beginning of that word.  We then look at the blocks with the words written on them.  She finds the one that has the word beginning with the same initial sound as the color she chose, and she puts them together.  As you can see from the picture above, she is quite proud when she “puts all the friends together”.

Since she is so young, I have built in a self-correcting piece to this activity.  For example, the block with the word “purple” and the block with the purple tape are both the same shape.  This way she can see if it all “looks right” at the end.  Once she gets comfortable with the activity, I will change it by using blocks of all the same shape/color so she isn’t relying on that as much.  Baby steps though.

This can be modified to use with many different skills at various levels.  As we continue to use LEGO bricks in our classroom (pre-k and 3rd grade) I will be sure to post our experiences.