Volcanos & Convergent Boundary Project with Minecraft PE (Updated)


What a fantastic idea for MCPE and Volcanoes!

David Lee EdTech

How It Started

Mrs. Y asked me if we could incorporate Minecraft PE into her plate tectonics & volcano unit. I thought it would be great to have students  create a diagram of a volcano and a plate tectonic boundary.

Here is a short description of what we did for the project:

1.  Research Specific Boundary and Volcano

photo photo_1

I created a graphic organizer with Google Slides that contained the objectives of the project, links and videos of grade-appropriate resources, and student work examples.

2. Find an Appropriate Minecraft Seed

According to MinecraftSeeds.co,  a seed is a specific number that generates a particular world. Seeds allow players to share unique worlds that they find with one another. If all your students type in a specific seed number when creating their local game, they would all generate the same world. Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 9.29.17 PMI googled “extreme hills seeds” for a world that would…

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Coding Summer


Summer Coding Projects


Before explaining our summer coding projects I should explain a little about education in South Korea. First of all students attend school from March 2- February 28. They have a summer break from the end of July until the end of August. Their winter break starts at the end of December until the beginning of February. Unlike North America, Korean students spend their vacations attending different private academies. For example, my daughter attends piano, violin, math, English, science, and badminton classes during the week and on the weekends. My wife and I own and run our own private English Academy. We see students 1-3 hours a week in small classes of 4-6 students per class. I should also mention that we use a class set of iPads. Summer is a great time to do special projects with my students. This summer we decided to explore coding!


Because I teach grade 1-9 I had to introduce coding with many different apps. For my primary students I started with Kodable.

Kodable was a simple but fun way to introduce coding concepts to young students. I didn’t explain to the students how to play. I wanted them to enjoy the experience without knowing they were actually learning computer science. 

Scratch Jr. 

The next step was to formally introduce coding to my students and Scratch Jr. was the perfect app to start with. The Scratch Jr. website offers some great curriculum resources to get you started. http://www.scratchjr.org/teach.html I began by walking students through the basics of the app. I showed them how to add and edit characters and backgrounds. Next, I introduced the coding blocks. Each class I introduced more and more blocks. In the end the students created a story based on the storybook we were reading at that time. Scratch Jr. was a great introduction to coding. It didn’t take long for my students to master it and push the app to its limits. 


The next logical step was to introduce Hopscotch. Hopscotch uses a similar blocky coding format as Scratch Jr. however is it more advanced. Hopscotch offers numerous in app tutorials for students to follow to create games, 3D puzzles, shapes and many other exciting projects with coding. 

We started by creating different shapes. My students were quick to figure out the different shapes because of their strong math skills. As you can see from the above photo, they combined the different shapes to create a house. Once they were comfortable with shapes I challenged them to add a background and other objects to complete a picture. 

After a few classes, students moved on to the game tutorials. I was surprised how quickly and easily they completed the games, even though my students do not speak English as their first language. I only needed to assist them with finding emojis on the iPad keyboards. With their games completed I challenged them once again to upgrade their games by adding more advanced features from games that their classmates created. This was also a great way for students to teach each other. For example, students who completed the geometry dash game taught other students how to add a running score to their games. Once their games were completed students published their games so their classmates could could play them.

Coding Journals 

  My students write weekly journals and reading logs to build writing skills. To document our coding projects I wanted to create a coding journal. However, a paper notebook would not be suitable for this kind of project. A few colleagues Paul Hamilton and Richard Wells suggested I use Book Creator. My students were familiar with the Book Creator app and it would be very easy to add photos and videos of their creations. After adding photos of the code and creations I asked students to write about the process and challenges they faced when learning to code. My younger students needed more assitance with grammar and sentence, however, I was very happy with their journals. 


What’s Next

Our coding summer is not quite over yet. My plan is to finish with Sphero. My plan was to use the Tickle App because of its similarity to Hopscotch. However, Sphero Ed just released a simplified version of their MacroLab. In the fall I’m planning on introducing students to MinecraftEdu: Computercraft and Learntomod. 


    Movie Making with Minecraft PE in the Classroom


    Making Movies in the Classroom 


           Making movies is a great way for my EFL students to practice their writing and speaking. However, as the students reach the upper elementary and middle school grades they shy away from showing their faces on screen. To remedy this problem I started using Minecraft PE (MCPE) instead of live action movies. All of my students, no matter their age, love Minecraft. So when I asked them if they wanted to make a movie using MCPE they were pretty excited.

    Script Writing

    We started with the script. With my primary classes we wrote the script together using the iPad app Celtx. Celtx is a fantastic and simple app for writing, screen plays, podcasts, and even TV commercials. With my upper elementary students we used Google Docs to create the script.

         Once the scripts were completed we began practicing. It is a challenge to teach expression and emotion to Korean students. To help, I showed them a few videos of the making of Frozen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SET0DeKtHkc


        After practicing and revising the script we proceeded to create storyboards for the movie. In the beginning we used just simple paper and pencils. However, when Paper 53 for the iPad came out it was our go to app for storyboarding. To help my students understand about storyboarding we watched the kids from Animation Chefs explain storyboarding for stop motion. Even though we weren’t creating a stop motion movie the kids on the site did a fantastic job explaining how to create a storyboard for a movie.

    Set Building and Filming 



         The final step before filming was to create the setting. To save time I imported buildings from PC Minecraft into our MCPE world. This was very simple using a few programs on my Macbook. However, when Minecraft PE was updated to version 0.10.0, and IOS updated to version 8, it is not possible to import worlds or structures into MCPE on the iPad unless you use Pocket Mine. Because certain blocks and mobs are limited in pocketmine we often built scenes in both Pocketmine and regular MCPE. This allowed us to film monster fight scenes.

    With the scripts printed and practiced we began filming. I used Reflector and Screen-Cast-Omatic to record the screen cast of my iPad. I would act as the camera. One tip here would be to turn off the GUI on the iPad to hide the D-Pad and items. It’s a little tricky to move around but it gives you a nice clear picture.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9zv2Idm2r4 (trailer)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi8cEwF88Ho (Full Movie)

    Experimenting and Having Fun

    We began experimenting with filming techniques such as green screen and camera angles. Also, we used a lot of different apps to add special effects to our movies. Here are a few apps that we’ve used and how we incorporated them into our movies.


    Toontastic is the best cartoon creating app on the App store. I use it a lot with my primary students for story telling activities. Toontastic has some fun and cool special effects, like rain, snow, bombs and much more. With the use of a green screen (More on this later for minecraft) we added these special effects to our Minecraft movies.

    Green Screen by DoInk

    There are a few green screen apps on the app store, however, Green Screen by DoInk is by far the best. We use it all the time for any live action videos we produce in class. Using green screen in Minecraft was a really easy. All we did was create a background with either green wool blocks or blue wool blocks. Once we’ve completed filming students could easily edit the videos in the Green Screen app and add any background or video they wanted.

    Super Power Fx by Kuju

    One of our Live Action/Minecraft movies was about superheroes. This app was perfect for giving each student super abilities. There maybe a way to incorporate the app into Minecraft but we haven’t experimented with that just yet.


    X-Mirage is a screen mirroring and recording app for the Mac. I was able to pick it up for free during a sale on Cult of Mac. What I like about the app is that it allows students to mirror their iPads to my Macbook and it allows me to record their screen. I have a 15 inch Macbook Pro, so I was able to mirror and record 3 iPads at once. This allowed us to use multiple camera angles.

    Green-screening in Minecraft PE




    Creating your own green screen in MCPE is very simple. All you need is some green wool or green emeralds as a background and you are all set. We even experimented with green windows in vehicles to simulate moving. In the photo above we used a blue screen to simulate a large forest.

    Overall the experience has been very positive for me and my students. Students learned a lot about how to create a movie and spent a lot of time practicing key English skills. This summer vacation we will be working on coding skills. I look forward to sharing our experiences!