October 8, 2017

Bloxels for a Makerspace


Like many teacher librarians, I run the makerspace at my school.  I have a lot of fun materials that students love like dash robots, makey makey, doodle-bots, legos, spheros, and ozobots.  A new addition to our makerspace are Bloxels.  

Bloxels allow students to build their own video games.  Students use tiny blocks (which mimic a computer's pixel) to design a game board and character.  These images are uploaded to the Bloxels Builder app (a free downloadable app) and their creation comes to life as a playable game!  Here's a video showing what Bloxels can do:  https://vimeo.com/159851845 

My students are like most kids, they love video games!  So they really enjoy designing and creating their own games with Bloxels.  It makes programming a video game easy for young students.  Kids don’t need to know fancy coding to create a video game.  Students can recreate the characters and game board suggestions provided by Bloxels, but most choose to create their own.  I recommend using Bloxels with students in grades second to fifth.  There are great lesson plan ideas on Bloxels’ website to connect to curriculum like build your own fractured fairy tale video game.  Check out more ideas here: http://edu.bloxelsbuilder.com  

There are a few aspects about Bloxels that I find challenging.  Creating with Bloxels sometimes takes students longer than I’d like, when my time for makerspace activities is limited.  The pixel pieces are tiny and can be easily lost.  Playing the game that’s created is a little confusing and somewhat limiting and I wish it were more user friendly.  The games are not high-tech looking and appear very pixelated like the original Mario Bros, Minecraft, and even Atari. 

In the end, Bloxels have been a fun addition to our makerspace.  Students love designing and playing their own video games.  I love that they encourage creativity and teach computer science skills, and easily take young students from video game player to video game designer! 

September 7, 2017

#mustreadin2017


A new #mustreadin2017 update is here and I have so much to share!  Thank you Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That for hosting this reading event.  In January, I did a blog post motivating myself to read over the 2017 year.  In April, I did another blog post update and posted books that I’d been reading.  Today’s post highlights the new books I read over the summer.  So far, making these lists motivates me to read and I've done pretty well achieving my reading goals this year.  

Here are the new books I read since my last #mustreadin2017 blog post:











































Here are some upcoming new titles that I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing for my next #mustreadin2017 blog post: