• My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare I had the characters quote, I added the option for…

• This year I have been experimenting with a new tool for my minecraft math class. The tool is called Beton Quest and it is a plugin for my server. Paired with a second plugin called Citizens it allows me to create NPCs (Non Player Characters) that my students can interact with. The Non Player Characters look like normal minecraft characters – like players, villagers, animals or monsters – but when a person clicks on a NPC a little text conversation begins. The player gets to see a number of multiple choice responses which he or she can click on or type the number of, and their responses direct the conversations.…

• Are you looking for ways to convince your children to practice their multiplication facts? There are many places to get minecraft flashcards with random minecraft pictures and random multiplication facts, but I wanted a way in which to give my seven year old more practice with the multiplication that is integral to minecraft itself. I decided to work on just the multiples of four and six and I devised both some instructions for him to work through on the computer and a set of cards to play with at the kitchen table. Download the cards here: minecraftmemorymatchcards The Multiplication Practice Cards The sets are as follows: set for multiples of…

•   The other day on Minecraft my children and I were exploring how to build tunnels quicker. One way of doing this is to use the fill command. Often using fill or clone we can look at the two opposite corners of the rectangular prism we are planning on filling or cloning, and record the coordinates. In building a tunnel we can only look at the coordinates of what will be the entrance to the tunnel, and then we have to imagine how far back we want the tunnel to go and figure out which coordinate we need to change (x, y or z) to make the tunnel. In the…

• This post explains how to build a minecraft castle using the fill and clone commands. The first part is a very simple tutorial on the commands themselves, while the second part explains how to use the commands to build the castle. If you are familiar with the commands already skip to the second part of the post. Fill and Clone Basics Minecraft coordinates are written out as sets of three numbers. For example: 6 5 9. The middle coordinate (the y one) tells you how high the location is. A positive x coordinate tells you how far east you are from an arbitrary location of x = 0, and a…

• We are still into counting books these days. Here are a few more books (and activity ideas) I thought were fun…. the links are to amazon affiliate links, meaning in the event anyone through them Amazon pays me the tiniest share of the purchase, but these books are ones you can probably find at your local library, so check them out there. Math Fables: Lessons That Count by Greg Tang includes ten short stories. Each story is based around a number of animals, from one spider to ten beavers. In each story the animals form groups over and over, exploring all the different ways they can be separated into two…

• One of my children choose a counting book at the library the other day, and I thought about how my youngest was just about able to start counting and maybe I should find another counting book too. So we came home with a collection of them, with me rejoicing in the differences between each book. Some books count different things – five oranges, six apples, for example, while other groups count one group that grows and shrinks. Some books start with one, others with zero. Some start to move into multiplication, grouping things together. I’m describing them here starting with the ones involving the easiest math to the hardest. borrowed…

• This is the 72nd Edition of the Math Teachers at Play (MTaP) blog carnival! The number 72 is a Harshad number in number bases from binary up to but excluding base 13. Harshad numbers are numbers that are divisible by the sum of their numbers. They are base-dependant. In binary 72 is expressed 1001000. Add the digits together to get 2, one of the factors of 72. With a base of 5, 72 is expressed 242. With base 6 it is expressed 200. You can play around checking the bases of different numbers with an online calculator. Now on to the math posts…. Currency of the Weekly Art Show –…

• I love the feel of a handful of buttons sliding through my fingers. I love spreading the buttons out on the floor with my three year old, and watching as my six and nine year olds came to join in the fun. I’ve found its easier to use buttons on a carpet floor than on the table or a smooth surface, because they won’t go shooting around the place. Unless of course I want them to go shooting around, in which case a smooth floor is ideal. Here’s some different ideas for using a handful of buttons as an educational activity: Drawing: Use buttons to make pictures. A line of green buttons can be…

• The last week or so I’ve been reading many different variations of the Pied Piper. I’ve written about some of those different stories. I didn’t share them all with my children, but I read enough of them, and talked enough about the others, that they got a pretty good introduction. Questions to discuss (any of which could lead to the writing of an essay, story, skit or puppet show). Does the amount of time and effort the piper put into the work matter? Should it matter? The people complain that he did the work so quickly it isn’t worth what they offered. Should he have invented a huge ritual to make…