After nearly 3 months and hundreds of student-hours, our collaborative project with Melvina Kurashige’s students in Hawaii is finished and ready to share. Melvina and I have worked together the past several years designing lessons that our students can complete across the Pacific with Minecraft. I teach medieval Japanese history to my students and Melvina teaches Japanese culture to her kids. For this year’s project, I was thinking big, VERY big. I’ve long been inspired by the incredible work coming from Minecraft big thinkers like Adam Clarke and Stephen Reid. As a class we marvel at the astonishing work from Minecraft build teams such as Blockworks and Pure Imaginations.
I have a period at the end of the day that is an exploratory period. I have assembled 28 students, 14 girls and 14 boys, and together we have challenged ourselves to become a build team. We began the year learning how to work as a team by completing the wonderfully creative Craft Your Future project before learning about the powerful building tools found in WorldEdit. I’ve since split the class in half in order to work on two large-scale projects. Momotaro represents the fruits of our labor for a large portion of this past semester.
In December, we Skyped with Melvina’s students and I opened up the project to my history classes as we were nearing completion. In total, over 150 7th graders worked extremely hard to make this happen. Along the way we all learned how to work together and positively critique each other. We iterated again and again and again until and then worked as specialists to build out the story of Momotaro, the Peach Boy.
Momotaro is a medieval Japanese folktale that tells the story of a boy, born from a peach to excited parents. He grows up and goes on to defend his village from mean ogres and ultimately makes them apologize for being so unfriendly. We decided to tell the story by building a series of 10 “shoebox dioramas” that were each scaled up to a massive size – 120x40x60 blocks. Student teams worked to build out each character and to fill in the background for each scene of the story. Melvina’s students also translated the story into Japanese and recorded the audio you will hear in our video below.
There are three ways to interact with our work:
Please watch the YouTube video and ride a minecart with us through each scene as the story is read to you in Japanese with English subtitles. Feel free to leave your comments here and we will share them with our students.
2. Watch the slideshow that gives you a sense of design, scale, and hard work that was accomplished by our students.
3. Coming soon, you can download the world and have a go. We’re just cleaning it up a bit 🙂