Minecraft and Architecture: the students perspective

Earlier this week, London CLC ran a ‘City Planning in Minecraft’ workshop with the year 5 class from Reay Primary school, Lambeth. At the end of the workshop, the teacher (Miss Coates) gave us some lovely feedback on how the use of Minecraft had motivated many, ordinarily very reluctant pupils, to write. This prompted us to ask if she could pop the feedback in writing for us to share. However instead of doing this, the teacher put the request to her class, who consequently review of their entire ‘Open City Neighborhood’ project. We were amazed by how eloquent and insightful the children’s review was and so over to the students of year 5 Reay primary school…


The students’ review:--We got to do Minecraft and Architecture all at the same time!-

 As part of our partnership with OpenCity (@OpenCityOrg), Reay’s Year 5 have been working hard on their challenge of designing an ‘Open City Neighbourhood’. We have thought about it from all different angles including, how people will move around (transport), how eco-friendly it is (renewable energy/building materials/pollution) and whom will benefit from living there/visiting it (leisure/tourism).



We had designed loads of different buildings, including buildings which had more than one purpose, and designed a community ethos in which everyone would be allowed to visit or to stay and in which people told the truth and were open about things which needed talking about.


We made models of our various different buildings as part of the process and had started to lay them out on the table to work out where they would go, but a load of toilet rolls, cereal boxes and plastic punnets made it difficult to conceptualise, let alone visualise.


It made me see how the neighbourhood was going to fit together.

We were not all on the same page. We had a problem. We needed a shared vision for our ‘Open City Neighbourhood’ in which we could ideally walk around and consider.


That’s where the CLC (@LdnCLC) just up the road in Clapham Old Town came in. It was brilliant, as they designed an afternoon of workshops using Minecraft. We felt confident immediately, as we knew how to do things in Minecraft and we knew what we needed in order to make our designs successful, thanks to the Open City programme. Rowan helped us to understand where to put everything in the neighbourhood by having a grid on a piece of paper and making us think about what building should go where. But brilliantly, this then translated into the Minecraft world. After a bit of designing and building, we were able to wander around our neighbourhood admiring each others’ designs but also problem-solving and trouble-shooting the layout. Of course the court house should be nearer the police station and the library as near to the centre of the neighbourhood as possible, as this symbolised not only our love of reading but also the ideas that everyone is welcome here and trusted to borrow books.


We were finally able to ‘walk around’ (or actually fly around if we double-clicked the space bar) and see how it would all work and how we could improve it. We really worked together too as we were all sharing the same world and had to get used to the idea that we might inflict some damage on someone else’s building by mistake and how we could best rectify the situation and apologise.

Untitled design (2)

Thank you very much to the CLC and Open City for combining our learning in this way. It has given us much more confidence with our project but also with our communication skills because we were having to listen to each other and help each other out.


A note from Miss Coates:

We had such a wonderful time at the CLC yesterday. I couldn’t agree with the children’s perspective more (as above) but would also like to add that the ‘chat room’ was opened up on Minecraft which meant that the entire class spent much of the afternoon reading and writing without even realising. It was astonishing to see often VERY reluctant writers getting involved in the chat room, commenting on each others’ designs or trying to be funny (and sometimes succeeding!) without being disrespectful.


As a teacher with bad previous experiences of Minecraft, I have been reinspired to use it – the children were not online, so I didn’t have to worry about anything scary and Minecraft as a tool was perfect for all of the children as they worked as such a team. Children were merrily going around helping others, offering up their expertise or showing off their skills to the rest of the class. They were brimming over with confidence and pride, something which was just so super (and in some cases very rare) to see. In this sense, it did not level out the children’s skills but sort of flipped them around as some of the most competent architects were now seeking the computer skills of the least.


A parent’s perspective:

I had three children in the back of my car yesterday afternoon who couldn’t stop talking about their trip. They rabbited on about the best layout for cities, the best sorts of doors to use for factories as opposed to houses and about how much fun they had had despite it being the hottest day of the year! Thank you!


P:S (from one of the children in the car):

I would just like to point out that we were sharing the back seat of the car because we were car-pooling to help save the environment, as we were all going to our swimming lesson together instead of three separate cars. That means less pollution for our neighbourhood.

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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