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How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

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Minecraft social studies and history activities will immerse your students in a creative and collaborative environment. Get ready for history to come alive!

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Minecraft Social Studies and History

Minecraft is a popular sandbox video game where players can create and navigate within a blocky world.

Because of its creative nature and exploratory style, it works well as an educational tool.

Minecraft social studies and history projects are both engaging and easy to implement.

Benefits of Social Studies and History with Minecraft

Minecraft can mimic the real world, albeit in a blocky style.

Because of this, you can travel to faraway lands or even past time periods.

The immersive nature of the game will captivate students. History won’t just be something to read about.

With Minecraft, students can experience history!

Minecraft social studies activities promote creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

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Integrating Minecraft into a Social Studies Curriculum

Social studies is a blended field that blends history with the social sciences.

Economics, government, anthropology, geography, and political science are all part of a social studies curriculum.

Minecraft social studies activities can provide immersive experiences that augment your curriculum.

Lesson Plans

When you are making your lesson plans, think about your objectives.

Can a session in Minecraft help you achieve those goals? Minecraft works exceptionally well for social studies projects.

For example, you task your students with building a structure (like a legislative house) and adding elements to the inside to show what they have learned.

Curriculum Alignment

If you are a classroom teacher, align in-game projects with social studies standards and learning objectives.

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Examples of Using Minecraft for Teaching Social Studies and History

Here are some examples of projects and activities for Minecraft social studies.

Historical Reenactments

You can recreate historical events within the game of Minecraft.

For example, Minecraft Education Edition has a five-lesson sequence on World War I.

You can also recreate famous speeches and debates within Minecraft.

For instance, you can download a skin resembling Abraham Lincoln and deliver the Gettysburg Address.

Building Historical Landmarks

Minecraft works exceptionally well as a building platform.

Construct replicas of famous landmarks or historical sites.

Students can learn much about a landmark by building it block by block.

Creating Virtual Tours

In Minecraft, you can build anything!

Find an existing Minecraft virtual tour, or build your own!

You can build virtual tours of ancient civilizations, faraway cities, or your community. Everything is possible with Minecraft.

Role-Playing Activities

Engage students in role-playing scenarios to understand historical perspectives.

You can role-play situations in government or historical events.

Interactive Timeline Projects

Build interactive timelines of key historical events using Minecraft.

You can walk your character through the timeline itself (and show it off to other players).

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Best Practices for Minecraft Social Studies

Blending social studies and history with Minecraft works well when you follow these best practices.

Set Clear Objectives

Have a plan before you begin. What do you want your students to learn from this activity?

Define learning goals and objectives for each Minecraft activity.

Provide Guidance and Support

Not every student plays Minecraft (or even video games), so there will be a learning curve for some.

Even if students are familiar with the game’s structure, they will need help with the social studies and history content.

Offer scaffolding and support for students as they engage in the activity.

Don’t just “turn them loose” in the game and expect them to achieve your lesson objectives.

Encourage Reflection

A time of reflection and self-assessment is an ideal way to conclude a project or activity.

Here are some sample reflection questions:

  • What did you learn?
  • What is [event, place] like in your experience?
  • What did you do well?
  • How could this activity improve for next time?
  • What would you do differently if you could do this activity again?

With a game like Minecraft, you can even reflect within the game environment.

Find a meeting place to share ideas.

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Assessing Student Learning in Minecraft-Based Social Studies Activities

Minecraft lends itself well to history and social studies projects. How do you assess those?

Rubric Development

You can create an assessment rubric to evaluate student projects and activities.

This allows you to turn observations into numerical grades (if needed).

Peer Evaluation

Students can assess each other’s work, too.

While they should not give one another grades, they can assess by answering the questions:

What is something this student did well?

What is one thing they could improve for next time?

Showcasing Student Work

Minecraft history projects don’t need to be stuck in the Minecraft world.

You can showcase student creations in virtual tours for parents or other students.

Overcoming Challenges and Limitations

Any time you incorporate technology into an academic activity, you have the potential for obstacles.

Technical Issues

You can run into technical issues within the game.

If possible, beta-test the projects and activities you assign to the students.

Run through the activities on a computer the students will use (not just your personal computer).

Time Constraints

Time constraints can also be a factor. How much time can you allot to this activity?

Use another time block if this activity takes longer than planned (think through this beforehand).

Tech Access

If this is a “finish at home” project, consider whether your students can access the needed technology.

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Examples of Minecraft History and Social Studies Projects and Lessons

Check out these history and social studies lessons available through the Minecraft Education edition.

Remember, you can always develop your own projects too! Join a forum for educators using Minecraft.

Medieval Britain

Wander through a village in medieval Britain and build your own Medieval structures.

Build a Landmark

Research and recreate a famous landmark.

Contour Maps

Learn how to make a contour map of the Earth’s surface.

Ancient Egypt

Learn all about ancient Egypt with this multi-lesson series.

Visit Florence, Italy

Navigate through Florence’s streets, churches, shops, and museums to experience its architecture and history (and interact with NPCs, non-playing characters).

How to Teach Social Studies and History Using Minecraft

Minecraft Social Studies Lessons

Minecraft is an excellent tool for enhancing the study of history and social studies.

It can replicate real-world experiences and places from past and present.

Its creative and collaborative nature draws students in and makes them excited to learn.

Minecraft is an educational tool that makes history more hands-on and immersive.

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