I’ve always been a bit skeptical about teaching using video games. It’s so difficult to find high quality video games that actually teach something meaningful. The list of quality educational video games is small, but I may have found another to add to the list.
I should have known, after all, the use of Minecraft among homeschoolers does seem to be a bit of a cliché at this point. However, I never considered it as a history teaching tool until now.
It all started when we saw some pictures of El Castillo from Chichen Itza. The picturesque temple with its straight lines and perfect symmetry proved to be perfect inspiration for a Minecraft build. Before I knew it, the boys had convinced me to join them in a reconstruction.
We counted the levels and the steps, we researched the orientation of the temple, we looked at pictures of the surrounding area. We carefully counted and measured to build the temple. We discussed exactly what angle we would use for the stairs and the sides. We carefully selected materials that would best replicate the look of the temple. When we had finished, we kept building other things that were nearby, trying to replicate the site.
This little whim had turned into a full-fledged study of Chichen Itza. While we built, I talked about the Mayan culture and the boys recounted what they could remember from their studies. Our studies even wandered into geology, as we built some cenotes and discussed how they were formed and how they impacted Mayan culture.
Now the boys are begging for another Minecraft historical build. I am beginning to see some serious possibility here…