Yes! You are reading the logo right... a program that lets you build your own video games. This educator values the fact that it is hands on and technology! Most of the graphics on my page today come from the Bloxels webpage, but some are my own. Creations by imagination.
If you are not familiar with Bloxels or how it works I recommend visiting their website HERE.
The amazing Bloxels website contains a huge amount of information such as the Bloxels blog, how it works, where to buy it, and even educator lesson plans. Let me tell you how my Bloxels journey began:
One day I stumbled into a Barnes and Noble with my family and there was a Maker Faire going on. I couldn't believe my luck! If you've never been to a Maker Faire you are missing out. There are tons of cool hands on things to do and create and of course technology to play with. Barnes and Noble was showcasing 3d printers, pens, robots, coding, and Bloxels. I fell in love and was so excited to play with it my sweet husband bought it for me and I was hooked. Let me start by saying I had in the back of my teacher's brain a thought for how I could use it in the classroom, but the giddy girl in me was excited about my new toy!!
I did not waste anytime playing on Bloxels and working at creating my own video game. I grew up in the land of the original Mario Brothers and this was right up my alley. I couldn't wait to show it off to my students.
In the beginning I used Bloxels as a reward tool for students who I knew were having behavioral issues. I wanted to use something that they could exercise their imaginations with and work with their critical thinking skills on. I definitely needed it to be not only educational, but engaging. My dreams soon outgrew my one single Bloxels set and I began considering what I could do with this educational tool if I had more than one.
Soon I became a Bloxels Ambassador because I wanted to be involved in this wonderful product in any way I could. Not long afterwards, the great folks over at Bloxels had a contest for educators willing to submit their lesson plans that involved the use of Bloxels and I couldn't resist. Today I'm going to share that with you, and it goes without saying that I can't wait until we start working on fractions in my classroom this year!
Bloxels has a character named "Ugly Sweater Kitty". It is colorful, it is cute, and it is the first thing that I built. When I teach fractions I want to engage my students in things they understand to make fractions come alive. Fractions are a very abstract concept for the age group that I teach, especially when uncommon denominators are considered.
Here is how the lesson works:
I have students build "Ugly Sweater Kitty" and give me the color fractional representations. For example, the Kitty above has 2/73 yellow blocks, 31/73 blue blocks, 16/73 pink blocks, 15/73 purple blocks, and 9/73 white blocks. There are other versions of the Kitty that give a different denominator of course, but for the example this will work.
When students are comfortable with how to build the kitty and understand what I mean by fractional representations we make observations related to the fractions and pictures they have built. For instance could I simplify any of my picture? Obviously in the one above I can't because 73 is a prime number, but how about the sweater? It took 30 blocks to make the sweater so that would mean 15/30 are pink on the sweater and 15/30 are purple on the sweater? Can this be simplified? When the fraction is simplified to 1/2, how do the fractions differ? How are they the same? The key is getting your students to think critically about what they see and how denominators differ but the picture doesn't.
* original character design
Next I issue a challenge to my students. Build their own character. They will need to build a character on their own using at least 4 different colored blocks. This character has to be something other than what can be found in the Bloxels brochures. They need to write the fractions that represent their pictures the same way we did Ugly Sweater Kitty. Can their fractions be simplified? Does that mean their character changed?
This activity is a precursor to building a game. They are starting with their characters in this exercise. My overarching goal is to get them thinking about fractions. They are looking at fraction equivalency and the relationships between numerators and denominators. I find this is a critical thinking concept connecting exercise, and I think it will be a great way to start a fraction unit.
Of course, incorporating building a game in the fractions unit will be next! Tell me what you think about this introductory activity!
* original character design