Goodbyes … and Hellos …

Class 43F said goodbye to our grade 4 friends this afternoon. They are only moving down the hallway, and we will see them during recesses (and during Minecraft Club!),  but they will be learning with new friends starting tomorrow morning.

We welcomed some new classmates into our learning space this afternoon, and starting tomorrow morning, we will be learning together with our new friends as Class 3F.

Please follow our new learning adventures at

Our Furniture Has Arrived!

“Morning Arrival. Desks and chairs for our classroom. Learning continues …” #TwHaiku

A video posted by Andrew Forgrave (@aforgrave) on

We enjoyed an adventure during the first week of school as we worked on the carpet and floor while awaiting our brand, new furniture.


Our Classroom is SO MUCH bigger when it is a panorama!

The truck started unloading at 7 am this morning, and we now have our desks and new chairs in our room!

We are excited. Mr. Forgrave is excited too! His chair goes up and down and he is already playing with it.


The Learning Adventure Has Begun!

Large Blog ImageWelcome to all of the new students and families to Class 43F at Sir John A. Macdonald School this September! Everyone arrived and found the classroom on Tuesday morning, and everyone arrived back again this morning with lots of wonderful questions! We are off to a great start!

Student Agendas were sent home with students today. Please review the agenda each evening — there is a small spot for a parent initial at the right of each day’s block — and have the agenda return each day. The agenda is a great tool for communication and to help us keep track of upcoming events.

Throughout the week we may share an event or two during the day via our class Twitter account. You can follow us at @43F_SJAM, or just check out our Twitter page once in a while to see the learning in action.

We are looking forward to lots of fun and learning this coming year! Here is a 3D bubble of the class in action:

Get a Head with Minecraft

Look at this wonderful end-of-the-school-year class photo! #MinecraftEDU What a mob!”

Building on our exploration and designing of our own individual Minecraft skins a few weeks back, we took some time during the last couple of days of the school year to realize our designs in proper 3D, human-sized form. We used cube cardboard boxes (10″x10″x10″), lots of squares of coloured paper (1-1/4″ side length to give eight pixels per 10″ side), and glue. We found that our glue sticks worked the easiest!

“Get a Head in Minecraft,” image by aforgrave, on Flickr

Here we are, each wearing our own magnificent Minecraft creations:

"Our Completed Minecraft Heads," animatedGIF by aforgrave
“Our Completed Minecraft Heads,” animatedGIF by aforgrave

How do you get a Head with Minecraft? Make your own! And play the game!

Happy summer, everyone!

Adventures in Minecraft

Written by Class 43F

This year, class 43F has had fun doing a lot of Minecraft-related learning. We have used Minecraft to learn in Social Studies, Math, Language, Art, and even having fun during DPA and gym. We would like to introduce you to some of the things we have enjoyed, and learned from.

This year during Reading, we explored fiction and nonfiction by comparing two Minecraft books, The Minecraft Handbook and Descent into Overworld. The Minecraft Handbook has nonfiction features like a Table of Contents, titles and subtitles, labelled diagrams and charts, and text boxes to provide information. Descent into Overworld has features of fiction, with Characters like Jaina, Hamid, and Ant. It tells the story of three friends who are pulled into Minecraft to save the world from being taken over by the villain Herobrine. The story is set in the real world, the overworld, the Nether, and then End. At the conclusion of the three books, the three heroes solve the problem and save the world.

We read the first two Battle of the Blocks book earlier in the year, and then had to wait until May for the release of an early version of book three in electronic form. The books are written by Canadian author Liam O’Donnell. He has published over 35 books for kids. He also teaches Kindergarten, AND he plays Minecraft! We made up questions to ask him, and then had the opportunity to talk to him live on Skype. We asked him lots of questions like:

  • What do you do when you are stuck looking for ideas when you are writing?
  • What is your favourite thing to do when you are playing Minecraft?
  • Can you make another Battle of the Blocks series called “The Blocks Are Never Coming Back” with lots of cliffhangers? (Asher)
  • Could you make another seven books in this series so that there are ten?

We wrote letters to Mr. O’Donnell give him our feedback on the third book, which he will be editing in July and then publishing this fall. It felt very special to be invited to be beta readers for a book that hasn’t even been published yet.  Last year, Class 3F had a chance to be beta readers for the second book in the series, and they suggested that Mr. O’Donnell put GumbyBlockhead in book three. Everyone was excited, when we ran into Gumby in chapter 17, especially Mr. Forgrave!

While we were studying Math this year, we explored coordinates, isometric drawings, and logical thinking by doing pixel art, Minecraft 3D figures, and programming for the International Computer Science Day Hour of Code. We coloured cartoon figures on grid paper and then used the X-Y coordinates to transfer the design into Minecraft by placing the correct colour of block at the correct address. Dylan created SpongeBob, Josh did Patrick Star, and Austin did Trap Stilton. Here are some other examples that our classmates did. (pause) Because everything in Minecraft is based on blocks, we were able to practice drawing cubes and other 3D shapes with parallel lines by drawing a variety of Minecraft mobs. Here are some of our drawings. Can you recognize them? In the Hour of Code, we used commands like left 5, right 8, up 3, down 2 to steer sheep, mine for coal, and chop down trees.  We even learned how to write a code to check for lava before we step forward. We wish could do that in real Minecraft!

We have also enjoyed Minecraft during DPA and gym class. In the gym we changed a familiar game called Get the Beanbag Race: Minecraft Edition. In the game each person is either a Zombie, Creeper, Skeleton, Spider, or Ghast. When a  creature is called, we race around the circle and then crawl between our teammates’ legs to try to be one of the teams which gets a beanbag. Whoever gets the most beanbags is the winner. In the classroom, we often enjoyed a collaborative game of Silent Seatball using our foam block of Minecraft TNT. Our goal is to reach 100 tosses without any explosions.

This year in Social Studies, we used Minecraft to show our learning by building a pioneer village, pyramids, and a viking settlement. All of the grade 3s worked together as they travelled on a sailing ship to the New World. After arriving, they had to chop down trees to build cabins and fences, move the animals off the ship, and then plant gardens for food. Everyone worked together contribute materials and build the Community Church.  The grade 4s worked to build an Egyptian settlement beside a river in the desert.

Thank you for listening to our Adventures in Minecraft. We have had a lot of fun learning with Minecraft and have learned a lot. We hope you have a great summer holiday, too!

How Long Have We Been At Sea?

Below Deck, Weathering out the Storm
Below deck, weathering out the storm

by Class43F, Austin, Alexa,  and Jaron

Many people were excited to leave for the New World. After we arrived on Captain Gumby’s ship, he loaded the animals and supplies while we all explored the ship. Some people got lost in the cargo hold. Captain Gumby made clear that his cabin was off limits. And with that, three days ago, we set sail.

We are now out in the middle of the ocean.  We have been sailing to the west for three days. We can no longer see back to our homeland, and we are happy to be finally on our way.  However, some of us are sad at leaving our home behind and are already homesick.  A number of us are not feeling well and have been sick a lot from the movement of the sea. We are hoping that it is only seasickness and not some kind kind of disease, as we are all trapped together on the ship until we reach the New World.

We have already had some unfortunate things happen. Someone was climbing in the rigging, and fell  from the crows’ nest onto the deck, and the died.   The Captain reminded everyone, especially the children,  that they need to be careful when climbing in the rigging. Some people went swimming off of the ship when it stopped and were not on the ship when it started moving again. One person fell overboard and was lost.

For lunch we had bread. If some people had carrots, they also ate those. A few people found some old eggs in the cargo hold but the chick in the egg had died. Some have been sneaking into the provisions Captain Gumby has brought. We will need to keep those for seed for when we arrive in the New World.

On the third night of our journey, the wind picked up and the waves started to get very high. There was thunder and lightning and rain. The Captain told us that we all had to go below deck. Although it was nighttime and we were in our beds, a lot of us found it very hard to get to sleep.

Heading for the New World

“Emigres Bound for the New World,” GIF by @aforgrave

Our intrepid Grade 3s will soon be leaving the Old World and sailing across the Atlantic to create their settlement in North America.

Captain Gumby has arrived with his sailing ship, and excitement ran rampant today as the emigres boarded the ship in preparation for the voyage to the west. Livestock and provisions will be loaded onto the ship over the next couple of days, and Captain Gumby and his shipmates will be on their way early in the coming week.

Stay tuned for further news of this exciting journey.

On a related note, word has come to us of recent explorations in Scandinavia and Egypt. We may have news of Vikings and Pyramids in the days to come.

Let’s Create a New Look!


As part of our preparation for our social studies projects later this spring in Minecraft, we created our own individual skins this past Friday afternoon. Now that we’ve got our feet wet with the skin editor, we  will later be able to create a historical custom skin to help us role-play within our simulation.

For the time being, however, we will each be able to have our own individual look, rather than being limited to the stock student skins that come with MinecraftEDU.

QSP Magazine Fundraiser

We have started a school fundraiser to help support our library renewal project and to fund updates to our school technology.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgParticipating students will be bringing home an envelope with a catalog and order forms so that family and friends can help support the school by purchasing/renewing magazine subscriptions. This program provides access to over 500 magazines which are offered at significant savings off newsstand prices.

Please review the note in the envelope sent home and consider supporting us in this endeavour!