The library at Churchville Elementary School has become a place for the imagination to run wild, a place for originality, collaboration, discovery and life skills.
Third-graders recently brought brilliantly colored characters — some good, some evil — to life with Bloxels, which are small, pixel-like building blocks. The characters have names and backstories, and will live in new video game worlds built for them by the students.
“We’re offering kids throughout the school all kinds of engaging activities like this, but in the process of enjoying themselves they are learning how to work together,” said Kathleen Andres, school library media specialist. “They are exercising artistic talents, developing ELA skills, acquiring math and logic skills, and getting an introduction to computer coding. It’s fun with an ulterior motive.”
Students started this project by writing stories about their characters, like Splotch, a little green creature with white wings, who is “deadly, silent and works alone.” His evil nemesis is Callie, who is “sneaky with razor-sharp teeth.”
The characters were created with colorful blocks, scanned into the Bloxel program and animated on iPads. Students made an environment — in this case, a desert full of quicksand — before adding obstacles and actions. Once the video game was created, they refined it by exploring the behind-the-scenes computer code.
The CES library is using various learning tools and projects across all grade levels to engage students, and build science, technology, engineering, art and math skills and a solid foundation for 21st century learning. It is part of the district’s makerspace directive being implemented throughout the schools.
“I couldn’t have introduced Bloxels to my students without the incredible assistance of Churchville-Chili’s instructional coach, Andrea Lynch,” Andres said. “With her expertise and sense of adventure, she has given me the courage to dive into new technologies and open new worlds for kids here in the library.”