A Journey to Jamestown through Minecraft

Mr. Van Wyk put a new spin on teaching "A Journey to Jamestown" with his 7th grade students this year.  For this lesson, his students had to take on the role as John Smith and create their own Jamestown colony using Minecraft.

To help get started, the students watch the short video, "A Life in Jamestown" to better understand what it took to be a settler in the early-American colony of Jamestown.  They discussed some of the main problems the first settlers of Jamestown encountered, and would could have been done differently.  After learning the backstories of leadership in Jamestown and the impact the Native Americans had, the students were assigned to take on the role as the newly appointed leader, John Smith.  Their goal?  To rebuild Jamestown.  

As John Smith, they not only had to build Jamestown, but also had to defend it from the Native Americans, develop a central meeting place to plan attacks, and also provide shelter and a food source for the colony.  The students were eager for this Minecraft mission.  

In addition to their Minecraft simulation, the students also needed to write and keep a 5 day journal to express their experiences as John Smith in Jamestown.  In their journals, they needed to explain a day in the life of John Smith and also include any hardships encountered or any positive events worth noting. 

A 7th grader's Jamestown simulation created through Minecraft, while taking on the role as Captain John Smith.

Based on the feedback from students and the Minecraft simulation results (see above), it was definitely an overwhelmingly fun and educational experience for both the students and Mr. Van Wyk.   The students were given quite the challenge of stepping in the shoes of John Smith.  But in the end, their Minecraft simulations and journals displayed both creativity and a wealth of historical knowledge while showcasing their Jamestown colony.  The students knew they had a big job to do at Jamestown, and they did not disappoint.  Because in the words of Captain John Smith himself, "Work or Starve!"


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