By Awnali Mills
Since it’s spring break around here, my boss, Chris, decided that he wanted to do some great programming for kids who might not otherwise have something to do. He decided to go with a Minecraft program—something I had been researching on my own. After much discussion, we ended up with two programs. The first, on Monday, would be Minecraft games and crafts, and the second, on Friday, would be Minecraft play on a dedicated server.
Monday was Minecraft Mania:
While kids were arriving, we played a Minecraft trivia game. Chris made sure that each child won at least one prize. Our prizes were leftover goodies from summer reading.
Once everyone was gathered and had won a prize, we set them free on the stations:
Bottle cap magnets: We used bottle caps left over from Attack on a Fort. I found examples of these on Pinterest. I used Publisher to create 1” circles that I filled with Minecraft images. A couple of pages of these was plenty, with about 12 different images repeated. These were cut into squares. The kids cut out their circular image, put glue in the cap, inserted the image, added a 1” adhesive bubble sticker, and stuck a self-adhesive magnet on the back. These were pretty popular.
Creeper Toss: Meghan created a terrific creeper beanbag toss, and I sewed green fabric beanbags. Kids got four tries. Eyes were worth 4 points, and the mouth worth 2. Kids won prizes for 16 points (I think at some point Chris lowered it to 8).
Minecraft Smash: Meghan pasted Minecraft faces onto pieces of cereal boxes, then strung them together. We used plastic balls, and kids had five tries to see how many characters they could smash. If kids hit something will all five balls, they won a prize.
While the kids were playing and crafting, Chris played a compilation CD he’d made of Minecraft music. We weren’t crazy vigilant about the prizes, since we were really trying to get rid of them. If a kid told us he won, we sent him to the prize basket.
To bring everyone together and wind up the party, we did a post-it note race. We divided the kids into four teams, and gave everyone post-it notes in green, blue, yellow, orange (substituting for brown) and black (Yes, there are black post-its. You cannot find brown for love or money, but they have black. Go figure.). I had created picture grids of a creeper, a pickaxe, and a sword. If we had a wall that post-its would stick to, we’d have done this on a wall, but since we didn’t, we used large pieces of cardboard that I had scavenged. We explained the game and then started them all with the creeper. The object was to use the post-its to create a replica of the creeper on their cardboard before the other teams could finish theirs. We only gave the teams 5 minutes to do this because we were running short of time. It took the kids a few minutes to get their team mojo working, but they were starting to get the hang of it when the timer sounded. Nobody finished their creeper in time, but the team with the most “creeper-like” composite won prizes. We had the kids strip the post-it notes off their boards, which they did with great joy in a flurry of flying notes. (As you can see from the pictures, this is of the second round, hence the notes all over the floor!)
Next, we did the pickaxe. Again, each team had five minutes to work. This time, the kids sorted themselves out rapidly and did a fantastic job. One team finished before the timer, and they all won prizes. The kids asked to do the third graph, but we’d run out of time, so we ended it by asking them all to help clean up, which they graciously did.
I had been a little nervous about this game, since it depended on kids’ ability to use a graph and work together. But, we reasoned that if kids were able to create houses and towns in Minecraft, they should be able to use a simple grid. Turns out they can. It helped that we had limited the ages from 8 to 12. Lots of younger kids had asked about the program, and we felt bad about limiting it. We weren’t sure if anyone would show up, since the program had been advertised in-house only, but we had a nice turn-out—just the right amount. And the ages of the participants dove-tailed perfectly with the games and crafts.