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!