Jim Henson said, “If you can’t beat them. Join them.”
These days it seems that parents and educators can’t seem to beat the engagement that children experience while playing Minecraft. If they aren’t playing the game themselves, they are watching YouTube videos of others who have screen casted their game play.
For those of you who are not familiar with the game, Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. Simple yet genius concept which as of now has about 13 million registered users! In fact it has become so popular with teachers across the nation that a special version has been created for the classroom called Ideas MinecraftEDU!
According to the MinecraftEDU website:
“MinecraftEDU is the collaboration of a small team of educators and programmers from the United States and Finland. We are working with Mojang AB of Sweden, the creators of Minecraft, to make the game affordable and accessible to schools everywhere. We have also created a suite of tools that make it easy to unlock the power of Minecraft in your classroom.”
Why has Minecraft become popular as an educational tool? Well simply put it encourages many key critical 21st century learning skills – creativity, communication, collaboration and problem-solving. It creates an avenue for people to explore, to think critically about communities and what it means to work together in a society. Creative mode is the popular choice for classroom use where children can choose whether they would like to play as a single player, or join forces with others and play in creative mode where you can have multiplayers. Minecraft has all the elements that create a rich learning experience for children, so how can you use it in the Islamic Studies classroom? The possibilities are limited only to your imagination. To get you started here are some ideas.
Mosques around the World and the 99 Names of Allah (swt)
Have students choose a mosque around the world that they would like to learn more about. Have each student choose a different one so that the students are able to learn about mosques around the world. Depending on the number of your students divide the 99 names of Allah (swt) between them. Have students create a screencast and talk about the history of their mosque along with any special facts. Have them finish it up by talking about the names of Allah (swt) that were assigned to them and have them explain what the significance of the name is.
Prophet Ibrahim and the Building of the Kaaba
In this project have students construct the Kaaba and create a screencast where they explain how the Kaaba was built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. Minecraft is proof that students love to learn, explore, create, collaborate and communicate. Isn’t this what learning is supposed to be all about? Have students cite ayas from the Qur’an and/or hadith that talk about the significance of the Kaaba and why Muslims must face it for prayer.
The Battle of…
During the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) there were many significant battles that took place. Have students reconstruct the battlefield and events that took place and then screencast the story of events. For example students can reconstruct the Battle of Ahzab, a story told through Surat Al-Fil. Noah’s ArkIn this project have students build the famous Noah’s Ark! Have them screencast the story of the Prophet Noah and how he came to build the ark. Want to get some cross-collaboration going? Have students from the Christian or Jewish faith share the story of Noah’s Ark as told in their Holy Book. Through this students can engage in inter-faith dialogue about their different beliefs.
We’d love to see the videos your students make of the above lessons. If you have another idea we’ love to hear about that as well, for it is only when we work together can we truly discover, innovate and share.
Minecraft is proof that students love to learn, explore, create, collaborate and communicate. Isn’t this what learning is supposed to be all about?