Minecraft for Educators Week 1 – What is Minecraft?

For the first weeks assignment we have been asked to discuss the various platforms that Minecraft can be accessed on and to note the differences and limitations that various versions may have.

Minecraft was created by Swedish programmer Marcuss ‘Notch’ Persson and developed and published by Swedish company Mojang first launched on the PC in May 2009, this first launch of the game was a very basic gameplay in which blocks were placed, or destroyed. Various developments were made to the game before the game Minecraft 1.0 was officially released in November 2011. .

The PC Edition holds the full game play experience, and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. There are 6 modes of play

Survival, Creative, Hardcore, Adventure, Spectator and Demo.

The game includes 40 biomes, or environments which can be grouped into 5 broad descriptions – snow-covered, cold, medium, dry/warm, and neutral.

The PC edition also includes 34 possible achievements.

The worlds in Minecraft are made entirely of blocks. By destroying, or placing blocks the player can change and develop, design and create their world. Playing in Creative mode opens all the possible blocks and items and allows the player to create and design freely without having limits on the number or type of blocks available to them.

Survival mode requires the player to mine for resources and create the items needed to find or build shelter to survive the night, when various nasty ‘mobs’ will roam and more than likely kill any player who has not managed to create some kind of shelter. Therefore the player must make a crafting table and forage for materials, and from what materials the player collects, tools and other items can be made. This is achieved by placing resources onto the crafting table, which is presented in a 3×3 grid, in a specific pattern. Also in survival mode the player must find, and often cook food as there is a hunger bar which will deplete.

Other types of crafting within the game are brewing – similar to the crafting interface but with a different grid. The interface gives you a brewing stand which mixes water with various other items an this way potions can be created; and enchanting which allows the player to create armour for protection against the mobs.

One of the best features of the PC Version is the Mulitplayer gameplay which allows users to connect together in the same world and interact with each other. Players can create their own servers and invent, design and create their own worlds – and then invite all their friends to come and join them.

Minecraft PE (pocket edition), was released on Aug 16 2011 and debuted on the Sony Xperia Play Andriod smartphone, which combined the smartphone with the hand held console. It was made available to all andriod devices on 7th Oct 2011. Other subsequent releases for mobile devices were: iOS – 17th Nov 2011, Amazon Fire – April 2nd 2011, and Windows Dec 10 2014.

There are some significant differences in the PE versions – most noticeable is the way the game is played using touch screen controls. There is no brewing interface or hunger element in the PE and the crafting system is very different. In the PE edition the MATTIS (Minecraft Advanced Touch Technology Interface System) system is used. Using this players do not need to place items in a specific order, items that the player hold will be automatically placed and the player will be able to see which tools can be generated from the items they hold, and how many; all the player needs to do is touch a button to craft the item.

There are some features that are exclusive to the PE which include more vibrant and smooth graphics; burning mobs; shadows; pink clouds during sunsets; fallen trees; a biome called the Far Land; some food items – beetroot, beetroot seeds and beetroot soup; and some exclusive blocks – Nether reactor core blocks.

Console Edition – Minecraft is also available on the Xbox 360, Xbox one, PS3 PS4 and PS Vita. There are some new features including tutorials on digging, crafting, building your 1st house and surviving 1st night, fishing, enchanting and brewing.

It can be played in splitscreen mulitplayer with up to 4 players and can be played in multiplayer mode with up to 8 players if the user has bought Xbox Live or subscribed to PS Plus.

Crafting is a cross between the PC version and the MATTIS system in that it uses a grid system, but the items do not need to placed by the player in a specific pattern. The console version also categorises the different items into groups.

Finally there is a version of Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi, which has been developed for educational purposes for novice programmers. As yet the only mode available on the Raspberry Pi is creative and no mobs spawn. This edition is very similar to the PE in its gameplay.

Wise Monkey Crochets.

I have recently decided that’s it’s time to put my masterplan into action. It might not seem like very much in the wider context and in this society where profit is the be all and end all. But for me it’s a big deal. I have been out of work for so long now that the thought of attending an interview makes me want to dig a hole, crawl into it and wait to meet my maker. My youngest child is still a few years away from school age. Once she is at school, my eldest, being home schooled will be needing a lot of my attention to help her through exams. So it will be a while yet before l will need to be working full time but I need to start thinking now about what it is I want to do when the time comes. So, in the meantime I want to try to build up something that, once my children no longer need so much support from me, I can put my time and effort into and hopefully build up a little business for myself. So I decided there is no time like the present to start out on this venture.

In my life I have tried many paths. I have been to university and earned a degree in English. I loved every minute of it. But from there the natural path seemed to be teaching. But I didn’t feel that teaching was for me and since I only have a D in maths, I would need to retake my GCSE in maths again before thinking about trying to apply for the PGSE. The thought of that made me want to dig a hole, crawl into it and… You get my drift.

So I went onto study a for a masters in Library and Information Managment. I managed to complete the year and earned my post graduate diploma without shooting myself – just about. I came away with a post graduate diploma, a lot of debt and the sense that I had just wasted the most amount of time and money I ever would.

So I have achieved a few pieces of paper for all my hard work. I learned one thing though. You need to do what you love. And over the last year I have discovered what it is I love doing. Crochet!!!

I have recently made a couple of gorgeous ponchos for a local shop called Knit and Stitch and am quite proud of them. Being paid to crochet makes me very happy!

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So I decided that is the way forward. I decided my crochet business name would be Wise Monkey Crochets. I recently bought myself a logo and started a Facebook page for Wise Monkey Crochets. To help me spread the word and to advertise the items I create.

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So, wish me luck! I hope to build up a good stock so that in a year or so I can hold stalls at craft fairs and make a little bit of money out of what I love doing. I know I will never be rich, but I will definitely be happy!

Crochet Diary 2 – Building Confidence

My first big crochet project was fairly complicated for a beginner. I had some good sources of inspiration. First a lady I know via Facebook whose page is called Those Darn Kids and can be found here creates some lovely pieces including star blankets that look stunning. Looking through her pictures inspired me to keep learning so that I might be able to produce pieces as lovely as these.
My 2nd and biggest source of inspiration came from my kids. Who once they saw me creating items gave me a continually growing list of things they wanted me to make. One of which was a Sonic the Hedgehog plushie. So I decided to give it a go.
It took me AGES, but I was quite pleased at the end result.
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My next pieces gave me the chance to learn and practise more skills:

Edgings, triangles and letters:
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Shells:
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Following more complicated patterns:

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Creating items freestyle without following patterns gave my confidence a great boost:
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And now after a full year of being totally obsessed with crochet, I feel ready to move onto the next level 🙂

Cerridwan and the Cauldron.

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Cerridwan is a Celtic goddess who represents the Crone aspect of the three feminine powers. She is the goddess of Wisdom, Inspiration, Knowledge, Fertility, Harvest, Transformation, Death and the Celtic Underworld.
A shape shifting goddess, Cerridwan had a son named Afagdu who was extremely ugly. Wanting, as all mothers do, to give her child the best chance in life she created a magik brew within her cauldron, which contained all the knowledge and wisdom the world holds and would make her son revered for his inspiration, wisdom and prophecy.
Cerridwen worked on the potion for a year and a day, perfecting the brew with care. She left the brew in the care of her servant boy Gwion Bach. Whilst stirring the cauldron the potion spilled onto his hand. He put his hand to his mouth and took the potion into his body. On doing so he aquired all of the power within the potion. Fearing Cerridwan’s wrath once she realised what had occurred Gwion fled with Cerridwan in pursuit. Using his powers Gwion changed form. As he became a hare, so Cerridwan shifted form  into a greyhound. Gwion changed to a fish and swam through water with Cerridwan behind in the form of an otter. He then took to the sky in the form of a swallow. Cerridwan shifted into the form of a hawk and continued her pursuit. Finally Gwion became a grain of wheat and attempted to hide in a field. Cerridwan became a hen, found Gwion and ate him.
On consuming Gwion in his form of grain, Cerridwan became impregnated. As her baby grew inside her she became overcome with wrath and hatred for the unborn child, whom she knew was Gwion reborn as her child. She planned to kill the child, but when he was born his beauty was such that she could not bring herself to harm him. Instead she wrapped him in leather and set him afloat on the sea.
The child was found and rescued by Elphin who raised him as his own. He was named Taliesin and he grew to be the best and most revered bard in all of Wales.

Beyond the myth of Cerridwan and her cauldron is the importance of Cerridwan and what she represents within Pagan religion. In Celtic mythology, Cerridwan is the keeper of the cauldron of the Underworld. She stirs the cauldron which holds all the world’s inspiration, knowledge and wisdom. As the goddess of transformation, Cerridwan’s cauldron contained in addition all the souls of the dead. She stirred the cauldron and in doing so brought forth rebirth.
Cerridwen is represented by the sow. The sow is highly revered in Celtic mythology and has affinities with the moon and the goddess, as a giver of life and death and a symbol of nourishment and truth.
Cerridwan can also be associated with the Buddhist symbol of the Wheel of Life which symbolises birth, life, death and rebirth; continuous change and transformation which are all of the facets Cerridwen herself represents.

The cauldron is an integral part of Wicca. Symbolically it represents the Goddess, fertility and the essence of  femininity. It is used for practical purposes such as cooking meals (if large enough). It is often the focal point during rituals, it can be used for burning incense in, or filled with water and used for scrying. It can be used during spells or to place items inside for brewing, or charging.

Crochet Diary 1 – Birth of my new obsession.

It was almost exactly a year ago that I did my very first piece of knitting, a stripy scarf of pink and green full of holes, completely skew whiff, and perfectly imperfect for a first piece of knitting.

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After this, I knitted a little snood for my then 8 month old baby girl. I was so very proud of seeing my baby wearing something I had made myself!

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Then I managed to follow a pattern and I made a hat. It looked nothing at all like the pattern, but it was wearable and it did the job it was supposed to and the level of smugness I felt at seeing my baby in a hat made by my fair hands was actually quite sad. But I had the bug. I had never ever thought I would consider myself creative enough to make anything worth making. But I realised that the enjoyment of creating is addictive and I guess I figured that it doesn’t matter if what I make isn’t perfect, or even very good. I loved it and thats enough.

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Soon after, my daughter was given a lesson on how to crochet. I always thought crochet looked so much harder to do than knitting. I watched my daughter being shown how to make a chain and tried myself, and I could not do it. At all. I watched my friends hands moving so fast making what seemed to me to be extremely elaborate stitches, and figured I would never be able to pick up how to do it, especially since I couldn’t even get my head around making a simple chain. I was all fingers and thumbs. But for some reason I was determined that I was going to learn. So I practised. My niece was pregnant and I wanted to make something for the new arrival, so I just kept trying. And after a few weeks I had created a little blanket and even a pair of booties from a kit I bought at Hobbycraft.

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At this point I was totally hooked, but still slightly confused by a lot of the stitches and how to follow patterns. And why did it have to be made more confusing by the different terms used in the UK and the US??

I bought a book which I am probably going to be using for a while to come to learn more new stitches and techniques. I Iove this book and recommend it to anyone new to crochet.

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Forest school week 7

Today at forest school our task was to use the bow saws and cut Sycamore trees down to make a shelter. I worked with my friend Ethan. When we cut the tree down we cut some extra little branches with loppers. Me and Ethan cut about 2 or 3 trees down. Katy showed us how to cut a notch out the side of the where we wanted it to fall then we had to cut a line down the opposite side of the trunk. This made the trunk fall  in the direction we wanted it to fall. After we cut them we put the bows and the loppers away and carried the branches back through the forset to the camp.

After that we put some marshmallows over the fire and hot dogs. I had two marshmallows and I called them “fluff muffins” they reminded me of fluff crossed between a meringue because it was gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Katy showed us how we are going to start to build the frame of the lean-to, but then we had to stash the branches away for next time, and pack up. Its half term next week so no forest school so we will have some pictures of the finished lean-to in a couple of weeks time!

The Raven – from poem to story.

It was a cold, dark and gloomy night. I was feeling frail and feeble, drained and drowsy. I was reading a book in my room, but suddenly there was a gentle tap at my door…
I remember it happened one cold, grim, dark and wintery night; and embers from the hearth were reflecting, flickering and dancing, like a ghost, upon the floor.
I wanted the night to be over and for tomorrow to come faster. I was trying to forget the grief I felt for losing Lenore by reading books, but it was pointless!! Worthless!! Senseless!! How? How can I forget a girl such as Lenore? A girl so beautiful, so fine and rare as the wonderful Lenore? Her name is no longer spoken here, her name is now filled with emptiness and sadness.

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I was locked in fear by the rustling of the purple silk curtains at my window, they sent thrills of horror to my heart. I tried to tell myself it was just a visitor and there was nothing to be afraid of. I tried to talk to whoever was at the door. I gathered my courage until I was brave enough to approach the door. I opened the door…

but there was only darkness, as black as the night.

I stood in the doorway, staring into the darkness. My mind was racing with thoughts of terror. My intuition was telling me that someone was watching me. My senses tingled with intense fear and harsh foreboding. I whispered  ‘Lenore.’ And the sad sorrowful name echoed back from the darkness.

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I returned to my room feeling distressed. My feelings were a storm of agony, a raging sea of misery , flaming in a fit of frenzy.

I heard a louder tapping. I muttered to myself “There is something tapping on my window loud! I must calm down and find out what it is.” I got up and flung open the window and then suddenly a beautiful, elegant, majestic, massive and glorious Raven whooshed in like a flash. It perched on the bust of Pallas above my door.

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I was stunned to see a such a glorious bird land on the bust of Pallas. His manner was so sober and solemn, dignified and dour that I couldn’t help but smile with amusement. I said to the Raven “You’re brave to fly in to my home! Tell me your name?” The Raven replied “NEVERMORE!!”

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I was amazed! The Raven had spoken ‘Nevermore!’ I was in awe, I must be the first human being ever to have a raven sit above my door speaking the word ‘Nevermore!’

I spoke gently, in barely a whisper ‘I have had other friends who have all left me before, I’m sure tomorrow this raven will leave me too.’ And the Raven said ‘Nevermore!’

I was shocked again at the Raven speaking the word, in such a way as to reply so appropriately. Could this bird really mean that he is never going to leave me? Could the bird really be named Nevermore? Could this bird really understand what I am saying? ‘I am sure, that this word is the only word this bird knows. His old master must have been so depressed that he kept on saying ‘Nevermore’ and so it is the only word this bird has ever learned.’ I told myself.

I was amused and intrigued by this Raven. I pulled up a chair in front of the door so that I might sit a while and contemplate what the meaning of this Raven placing itself above my door and speaking the word ‘Nevermore’ could be.

This is all I did, I sat and wondered. I looked at the bird, and said not a word, and all the while, the bird sat and looked right back at me. He stared right into my soul. His eyes burned into my heart. As I sat thinking about the bird, I reclined my head onto the velvet lining of the chair and I became aware of the fact that the feeling of the velvet lining pressed against flesh is something that Lenore shall never again feel. I will never again have her sitting in this room, in this chair.

At the thought of Lenore the atmosphere in the room changed. It became thicker and dense and a scent filled the room. I imagined that an angel was walking in the room swinging a censer. I was filled with hope and I called to the bird ‘God has sent you! By way of this angel God has sent you to help me forget about Lenore! Let me drink the potion that will help me to forget about Lenore!’ The Raven said ‘Nevermore!’

In desperation I begged the bird ‘Tell me please! I implore you to tell me, will I ever forget about Lenore? Will this pain ever go away? Will these wounds ever heal?’ The Raven replied ‘Nevermore!’

I begged the raven to then tell me ‘When I die and am in heaven, will I then finally be with Lenore again. Will I hold her and be reunited with her when I die?’ The Raven replied ‘Nevermore!’

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In that instant, with that one word all hope was gone. Replaced by darkness, despair and a desperate rage. I no longer felt that the bird was an angel sent from heaven, but rather a devil sent from hell to curse, trouble, torture and torment me in my sorrow!! I stood and shouted at the bird ‘Let that word be the last I hear from you! Get lost! Leave me alone in my sorrow! Get out of my house!!’ And the Raven replied ‘Nevermore!’

And the Raven is still there. He is still there above my door. He has the appearance of a demon, with the light behind it casting a long shadow on my floor. And I sit within the shadow and my soul lies darkened inside the shadow. The Raven remains still and his shadow holds me locked in despair. My sorrow complete as I lament the lost Lenore, and from my grief I shall escape – Nevermore!

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By Chloe and Kerry Dawes.