May 8th, 2022

Ways to Use Minecraft in Your Classroom

Make math exciting with the ultra-popular building game

I love to bring my students' interests into math class. That might be their favorite music, sports, or video games. One video game that's been a huge sensation with my middle school students recently is Minecraft.

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a sandbox game (meaning there are no specific objectives) that allows players to build and explore virtual worlds. Players can start alone or with friends. They use blocks to create structures, mine materials, craft items, breed animals, and fight monsters.

It's incredibly popular — between 2.8 and 3.6 million people play Minecraft every day.

Why bring Minecraft into math class?

Minecraft has swept the gaming world, with and it's no surprise that students love to play it. There are several great reasons to integrate Minecraft into math class:

  • It's relevant to students. Students relate to Minecraft and many of them are already playing it outside of the classroom, so this is a way for you as a teacher to meet your students where they're at.

  • It helps promote learning through playing. Kids don't just want to learn math by sitting down and doing worksheets or taking tests; they want to learn in fun ways that are also effective, which is what integrating Minecraft into your curriculum does.

  • It can help motivate reluctant learners or kids who generally aren't good at math. If there are particular kids in your class who don't like math and traditionally struggle with it, integrating games like Minecraft can be a way for these kids to learn while having fun and feeling positive about their experience learning the material.

What topics is Minecraft great for teaching?

Here's a few topics that I've seen Minecraft align well with:

  • Area and Volume: Students can make Minecraft “blueprints,” which show the dimensions of a structure. Students can compare the volumes of materials to estimate costs. They can also build geometric shapes on Minecraft and estimate their volumes or areas.

  • Ratios: The game comes naturally with ratios as students decide how much of each block to use in a building project or how much material is needed to craft a specific tool. They need to figure out what ratios of blocks is needed for a roof, house and other similar projects.

  • Probability: In Minecraft, students have to take into consideration all sorts of variables when they are thinking about their buildings. How deep do they want their moats? How high should their walls be? What will happen if they leave a gap in between the blocks that make up their walls, etc? Of course, having all these variables means there is plenty of room for estimating probabilities and making hypotheses in this game!

How to bring Minecraft into your classroom?

Minecraft: Education Edition is the version of Minecraft that's designed specifically for use in classrooms. It has all the fun components of regular Minecraft, but is enhanced with specific tools that allow you to easily set up a lesson or project for students.

You can download it (for Macs, Windows PCs, Chromebooks, and iPads) and try a free demo lesson to get an idea of how it works:

There's an official PD and lesson plans

If you don't play video games regularly, don't worry. There's an 11-module Minecraft: Education Edition: Teacher Academy that will walk you through how to use Minecraft, and offer ways to use it in different subjects, like Math, Computer Science, and Chemistry.

For math specifically, there's a Minecraft Math Subject Kit aligned to the Common Core State Standards. It includes tons of lessons, including on topics like fractions, area/volume, and decimals.

Talk to your school's IT department

When you've decided to start teaching with it, talk to your school's IT department . Your school may have licenses already through Microsoft 365 — and if they don't, they may be able to purchase it at a discount through volume licensing.

If that's not available, Minecraft: Education Edition is available to purchase directly for $5 - 12 / student / month, with a one year contract.

No computer? Try unofficial worksheets.

If you don't have access to Minecraft at your school and are still looking for ways to incorporate the game into your classroom, that's ok!

You can still engage with your students' love of Minecraft with these printable worksheets. These unofficial PDFs are inspired by the ideas and characters in Minecraft, but can be done with just paper and pencil.

As a quick reminder, of course, the following unofficial activities are NOT AN OFFICIAL MINECRAFT PRODUCT. NOT APPROVED BY OR ASSOCIATED WITH MOJANG.

Surface Area and Volume of 3D Shape Nets

Teach surface area and volume of 3D shapes using nets. With this worksheet, students calculate the surface area and volume of a series of nets, color them, cut them out, and assemble them into the character Steve!

It's a great way to engage with students who like to build and craft:

You can learn more about it here:

Surface Area and Volume of 3D Shape Nets

Slope

Teach slope by having students calculate the geometry of a Minecraft-inspired sketch. Then students can create their own and find the slopes there too:

Learn more about it here:

Slope Sketches: Draw & Calculate Slope of Lines

Summative Review

Give a summative review. Students practice ratios, surface area, volume, and expressions with a Minecraft-inspired adventure. Students build armor and a house on their quest to find mystery coordinates:

Learn more about it here:

Connect with your students today

Integrating Minecraft into math class helps students gain creative problem solving skills as well as a more thorough understanding of mathematics. All this with one game! It doesn’t get better than that.

Definitely check out the lessons above, and consider signing up for my newsletter to get more helpful tips like this. (I'll send you 5 free PDF activities for you to try!).

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Engaging3rd - 7th GradeLow-or-No-Prep