Lesson Plan

Sythesizing Geometry and Ratios with Minecraft

Students will learn how to make 3D models that address a problem or criteria in a fun way that encourages revision.
Sarah M.
Special education instructor
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My Grades 4
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

Students will be able to...

  • Construct a 3D model based on given criteria in ratio and fraction format
  • Calculate area, perimeter, surface area and volume
  • Identify ratios based on materials used
  • create and solve formulas and problem solve to meet the requirements of a given scenario
Grades 6
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Setting The Scene

Welcome students.   Share with students that today they will be working to solve an engineering problem for an alien race.

Play the video from the beginning to 4:32 to set the scene.

Tell students that Bob has worked to create a list of criteria or rules for the structure that needs to be built.  It will be their job to design and build a structure that will work as a meeting place for the aliens. 

2 Minecraft operations refresher

Tell students that they will be helping Bob by creating a structure for his alien town meetings on Minecraft.  

Walk students through essential operations & controls (Recommend printing a cheat sheet or posting one on the smart board):

Left click- remove block

Right click- add block

W/A/S/D move around

Space bar-jump

Double Space bar- fly

Shift- return to ground

E- Inventory:  drag items from your inventory to the boxes at the bottom.   Scroll through the quick bar using the wheel on your mouse.   

Inventory Search- click the compass on the right, type in the item you are looking for ex: "bed" or "glass"

Student Instructions

Watch for some tips & tricks on basic Minecraft operations!

3 Bob's Specifications & Geometric Operations

I would recommend that you chunk this lesson into two days.  Students need to know how to access Minecraft at school and have a basic understanding of how to navigate and build simple structures in the game in order to complete the task with math involved.   If some students are not yet comfortable with the software,  a good option is to pair them up with a Minecraft fan with the expectation that they are both contributing to the building plan and the math calculations.

Day 1- Students should be able to get the initial structure complete and possibly complete the section in which they compare colors with ratios. 

Before turning students loose to work:

1. Model each of the math procedures required.  You may differentiate by hinting that students who need to can count the blocks before or after using geometric formulas. 

2. Explain how you want work shown and units labeled.  I use MC Units (Minecraft units) and expect students to write the formulas and solve with numbers (even though some may count the blocks as an assist).

3. Emphasize that as fledgling builders things may not work out perfectly the first time.  Good builders change the plans often to make the best building they can to suit the purpose of the structure.   Revision is important and smart!

4 And Away We Go!

Now that students have all the knowledge they need, a packet of steps and specifications in hand, and clear expectations, its time to have some fun. 

Have students log in, locate flat land and begin their crafting.   Continuously walk around the room scanning for students in need of assistance with the technology or math. Either respond by supporting them personally or direct them to a peer who is an adept mathematician or Minecrafter.

At the close of the class time, ask students to reflect on their design process for the day.   What was challenging?  How did they solve the ratio and fraction dilemmas?  What kinds of initial dimensions did they come up with?

What is one thing you changed while you were working.  If they changed nothing the first day, they will likely have to adapt some things in part 3 .

At the beginning of Day 2 start of with further support for being adaptable and the idea that the best product is one that supports the purpose of the project.  Encourage students to be creative with decorating their meeting places.  

At the conclusion of the lesson have students share their Minecraft models or take screenshots to print and post around.  Celebrate student accomplishment and growth.