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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.

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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!

Forest School weeks 4 & 5

The last two weeks of Forest School have been focused on food! Week 4 began with a game of 20/20 tag. Chloe enjoyed hiding in the forest and hung around on the edges while player after player ran to home inside the circle. When she was finally spotted and turfed out of her hiding place to be chased through the trees to home, her face was a picture of happiness. Nothing quite like running through a forest to make a girl like Chloe come alive!
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Next we needed a fire so we had a session on fire lighting safety and all the group had a turn practising lighting some cotton wool in a metal dish until everyone had been successful. This took a while. Using the fire lighters is not easy and it takes a long time for the sparks to catch and light up.

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Once we had a fire going, Katy set up a kitchen area and the group all made pizzas over the fire!
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Week 5 was a little overcast and it looked like it was going to rain hard, so a little tent area was created to keep the equipment inside.
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As agreed afterr the success of the pizzas, everyone had brought sausages and buns to make hot dogs, so we needed some skewers to cook the sausages on. We were given some loppers and Katy gave a talk on how to carry and use them safely and we went off in search of hazel to cut.
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Once we all had a branch we were given a pen knife and Katy taught us how to wittle the wood into a point to make skewers.
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Then the sausages were placed on the skewers and put over the fire to cook. The hot dogs were tasty, but the best bit was the Krispy Kreme donuts that Gulsoom had brought to share.

Stream of consciousness 10 minute challenge.

I am new to blogging so I have no idea what this is going to turn into. By that I mean this post I am writing right now and my blog as a whole.
I created the blog to follow my daughter’s journey through her home education. We do a lot of activities and I want a space I can keep track of all she does aside from my facebook album which is dedicated to it.
I also want it to be a place I can talk about things that interest me and I am going to make a confession here. I have recently begun studying Wicca and Pagan religion, and so this blog is likely to include much about that as I am learning as well as posts on nature in it’s many forms.
I also have become rather crafty in the last year. I did my first piece of knitting around a year ago and I have created some quite nice things since then. I never considered myself artistic or creative enough beforehand, but I have surprised myself a few times in the last year.
In fact I am discovering a few skills that I wish I had pursued much sooner than the arse end of my 30s. I have been spending a lot of time learning about gardening and have now finally got the confidence to get stuck into my garden which is a bit of a wild mass of plant life at the moment. I will have it sorted by this time next year and looking lovely.
Stand up comedy is another interest of mine. I find that comedians are far more than just people who make you laugh. There job is to state things that we see and do everyday and make it humerous, and for that reason most comics have a way of putting the world in perspective that is so true and genuine. The comeidians who have the balls can really make people think about the world. I am not exaggerating when I say Bill Hicks changed my life. George Carlin too. They gave me tangible things that I could relate to that helped me make sense of the shitty world and to juxtapose that with the amazing beauty and love I felt for life. They helped me realise so much about life and it’s duality, irony, beauty and hypocrisy that abides on this planet. Anyway, my 10 minutes is up so ciao!