BOOMbox at Home: Minecraft

Image of a Minecraft character running through a field of flowers with bees.

This week we’re covering a Skokie Public Library Lab favorite: Minecraft.


Minecraft is one of the world’s most popular games, and for good reason. You can exercise your creativity by building structures, experience the satisfaction of farming your own food, and pump up your adrenaline by fighting creepers.

Even though the game can be a bit expensive, you can try it out for free with Minecraft Classic. The controls are different, but you can learn how to use them. Alternatively, you can watch Shubble teach her friend how to play Minecraft, watch RadioJH Games play Minecraft with her friends, or watch Zaypixel build a lake house

Minecraft IRL

Pull Minecraft out of the screen and into the real world with paper crafts. Use coloring pencils, grid paper, and this How To: Pixel Art video convert images into unique geometric works of art. Get inspiration from this Creeper template, or design your own.

If 2D crafts fall flat with you, try making some paper cubes. Print out this grass block template, or follow Wikihow instructions to draw your own template and use glue or tape to stick the edges together. When you feel confident about making paper cubes, you can move on to making more complex Minecraft characters using Pixel Papercraft templates.  

Minecraft Survival Resources

In the Minecraft world, you need to find natural resources in the environment around you and figure out how to use them to survive. Some are living resources, like pumpkins and wheat. These items come from plants that are alive, since they need to be fed with water and sunlight. Try growing some plants yourself and make biodegradable planters with newspaper.

Other resources you might find in the Minecraft world are nonliving, like cobblestone and iron ore. Iron ore is a tricky material to work with in real life, because it needs to be smelted in a very hot furnace before it can be used to make swords and axes. Smelting is the process where rocks that are full of minerals get turned into metal. Watch how difficult it is to smelt iron ore and read about how iron smelting works. Although archaeologists aren’t fully sure about when and where iron smelting was invented, people of Africa, Europe, and Asia were able to learn this new technique from each other because they were connected by land. This was when Afro-Eurasia entered the Iron Age.

Smelting isn’t the only way to make metal objects. Did you know that Pharaoh Tutankhamen had an iron dagger made out of a meteorite? And in southwestern Illinois at the Cahokia Mounds, Native American coppersmiths made jewelry and other important ornaments in a massive copper workshop.

What about coal? Is it living or not? Even though it looks like a rock, coal is actually a living resource. Coal is made of the dead bodies of animals from a long, long time ago.

Looking for more ideas for how to link learning with video games? Check out our Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild activity sheet for other things you can do to bring the fun of games into the real world.

Person of the week

Celeste Flores is a blacksmith who works with metals like bronze and steel. She takes metal and uses intense heat to transform the metal to forge it into art and useful objects. She got into blacksmithing by studying art at university and then interning at The Crucible, an art school in California. You can watch her transforming sand into iron and explaining the process along the way.

Written by Michelle.