ETFO Summer Academy: The ABCs of Minecraft

“ABCs of Minecraft (Sky)” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr

@MzMollyTL (aka Diana Maliszewski) and @GumbyBlockhead (aka Andrew Forgrave) will be offering “The ABCs of Minecraft” this July as part of the ETFO Summer Academy 2016.

If you are interested in learning how educators around Ontario and around the globe are using Minecraft with their students, this summer learning experience just may be for you.

Are you often asked what did you do on your summer vacation? You probably never respond with “I blew up mountains with TNT, fought a horde of zombies and built a castle in the clouds! And it was all for school!” This could be true if you choose to join us for this three-day course that will focus on using Minecraft, the popular blocky video game and how it can fit in your classroom. Participants will spend time playing Minecraft while discovering the pedagogy behind play-based learning and games-based learning. Come and join us to learn about how this tool can be used to support curriculum, and more importantly, student learning.

Desktop computers will be available, however participants may choose to bring a personal laptop with Wi-Fi capabilities to use during the course.

The ABCs of Minecraft is session SC-75 on the ETFO Summer Academy 2016 site.
You can access the registration page for this course directly via

We hope you will join us! Please register early as spaces are limited.

“ABCs of Minecraft (Trees)” by GumbyBlockhead, on Flickr


End City Loot


With the arrival of the March Break, I have had a bit of time to explore the newly revised End that exists in the Minecraft 1.9 update.

After hopping and bridging my way from island of End stone to island of End Stone, I finally came upon an End City. I read up a bit on the new mob, the Shulker, and then engaged with the tower’s defenders. It took a while to sort out where they like to hide, but when all was said and done, they were history and I had a nice collection of End City loot. You can check out the receipts in the GIF above.

Since finding that first End City on Saturday evening, I’ve continued to explore and have since found three more towers. No sign of an End Ship yet, but the update is young.

Our Very Best Wishes to You as you Explore and Create in 2016


Hey! It’s Phisagrim, Emily606, Technascribe, Jack1225, GumbyBlockhead, Terragrim, PraxisMaxis, and Liragrim!

We had a great get-together on the GamingEDUs Professional Play server to celebrate 2015 and welcome in 2016. Full details, with pictures and even some video to follow after a few hours of sleep to recuperate!

2016 Sign of the Times Party


The 2016 Sign has been installed, and preparations are underway for the 2016 Sign of the Times celebration, scheduled for New Year’s Eve. This year, members of our community will be meeting in the Northeastern Reaches of the GamingEDUs Professional Play Server (in Survival) at Gumby’s newest build, The Red Castle.  You can join us by logging on and using /warp 2016Sign to get straight to the party. Things will be well underway by 8 PM Eastern Time.

Jack and Emma and CosmicDragon and Joop have all been lending a hand with getting things ready. Jack’s Snack Shack is back again, with the menu already posted. Emily has opened Emily’s Art Gallery right next door. We have a wonderful Viewing Area set up again this year, and Cosmic has started work laying out the wiring for the fireworks. Our Selfie-Station is in place in front of the sign, and we will be taking a group photo just before 8 pm, so be sure to be online a bit early!

New arrivals to The Red Castle may also be interested in undertaking a self-guided tour of the structure, which features a prototype sorting facility in the basement and an XP/ZombieDrop Farm just across the front yard. The recently-installed Pyramid Chickenatorium is housed beneath a nearby Desert Temple a short walk away.

As with our previous New Year’s celebrations in 2013, 2014, and 2015, the Sign of the Times: 2016 get-together promises to be a great event! Be sure to drop by! Party hats provided!

SPECIAL NOTE:  In addition to the Sign of the Times party at 8 pm, we are also hosting the first annual Great Wall of Gumby Marathon Run Event, commencing at 7 PM Eastern Time, one hour before the New Year’s event. To join the run, meet at the Circle Garden at Gumby’s HorsieField Castle. You can get their directly by joining us at /warp GumbyMarathon — arrive shortly before 7 pm so that you have time to get fed and hydrated before we head out. We’ll be running the complete perimeter of the Gumbian Empire atop The Great Wall. We’ll conclude by travelling back by boats from the far end of the wall via the ocean portion as demarked by The Sea Towers.

#BIT15 Minecraft LAN Party at


Conference attendees at the annual ECOO conference, Bring IT, Together! are in for a treat on the evening of Thursday, November 5th, 2015, as Gumby and other members of the GamingEDUs community will host their third annual Minecraft LAN Party in Niagara Falls.

The event get started at 8:30 pm and runs until midnight! Stop by Peller Estates Ballroom B at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on November 5th, 2015 for some crazy Minecraft fun! Details in

So Nice to See Mi

"It's So Nice to See Mi!"

“It’s So Nice to See Mi!”

Taking Care of Your Skin

Despite the fact that I usually play Minecraft in the first person view, it is always reassuring to see yourself and know that your skin is representing your Minecraft self.

gumby_skin It’s really quite amazing that the entire external appearance of a Minecraft characters is captured in a tiny (231 byte) .png file.  I’ve not adjusted my skin since I initially designed it back in June 2012, but I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any tweaks that can be made with the newer Alex skin that is now available.  At least some headphones or sunglasses might be cool to try out once in a while.

The Original Television Gumby

Of course, the Gumby of my childhood was an animated clay television character. With the recent cold and wind chills, we’ve had a good number of indoor recesses, and on a few occasions I’ve fired up YouTube during our nutrition breaks and my students and I have enjoyed a few of Gumby’s early adventures.

Re-emerging into the First World

"Gumby on a Bucket" by @GumbyBlockhead

“Gumby on a Bucket”

In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying my custom personal GumbyBlockhead figure from Following the simple acts of filling in my Minecraft name, forwarding a small sum ($9.99 for the simple, or $14.99 for bendable legs) and waiting for a couple of weeks, my 3D plastic self arrived.  My First Life incarnation of my Minecraft self has taken up residence in my classroom, commanding a view from a bucket perched high atop one of the shelves at the front of the room.

Descent into Overworld

"Gumby Gets into Descent into Overworld"

“Gumby Gets into Descent into Overworld”

Earlier this week, my physical copy of Liam O’Donnell‘s first Battle of the Blocks Minecraft novel arrived, and the First Life Gumby figure followed in the footsteps of his progenitor by going into Liam’s Descent into Overworld book to get a first hand look. We read the electronic eBook release in my classroom on the iPad earlier this year, and we are now anxiously awaiting the second in the series, Nether Nightmare, due out for beta readers in the coming month! In the meantime, the students are waiting in line to read the paper copy of the first book! Talk about motivation for reading!

Immortalized in Green Wool!

"A Giant GumbyBlockhead, built by Raj"

“A Giant GumbyBlockhead, built by Raj”

And then, this afternoon, at the end of the day, I was more than overjoyed when some of my students called me over to an iPad to show me the result of their efforts. Having finished their assigned work, they had taken a few free moments in the last period to collaborate on the creation of a giant, scale copy of GumbyBlockhead in their Minecraft PE world.  How wonderful! They really have done a excellent job, getting the scaling done very accurately, and even getting the slope of my Gumby head looking just right!

What a nice gift to end the week!

The Tower of Pi (with Pie!)

Tower of Pi distant

“Tower of Pi (distant),” by @GumbyBlockhead

While exploring the far reaches of the new GamingEDUs Multi-School MinecraftEDU server, I have so far encountered a huge ocean with only a few dots of grassy islands and two or three mushroom biomes (certainly a statistical anomaly).

However, on one of the islands in the far west is a most amazing construction, The Tower of Pi. Gumby’s Tower of Pi is fashioned in the shape of the figure of pi, built using the MinecraftEDU-specific blue pi-blocks, and is decorated in an appropriate fashion. To enhance the visitors’ positive experience, the top of the Tower observation deck also features a goodly number of double-wide chests FILLED WITH PIE!

"Tower of Pi (closeup)," by @GumbyBlockhead

“Tower of Pi (closeup),” by @GumbyBlockhead

Be sure to stop in and take in the beautiful ocean panoramic view, and enjoy the tasty pie treats that are waiting, just for you!  (And don’t forget, teachers new to Minecraft are welcome to join us for our weekly Tuesday Evening Build ‘n’ Learn Nights, starting at 7 PM ET).

Explore far! Explore wide!

Your pal in Minecraft,


Tuesday Evening Play ‘N’ Learn Events on GamingEDUs



  • Would you like to have a supportive place to poke around in Minecraft?
  • Are you looking for a safe place to lay down some creative blocks?
  • Do you want to get up to speed in how you can use Minecraft to support learning?
  • Are you keen to n00b It Up with your peers?
  • Do you want to have a better understanding about what all these kids are talking about?

GamingEDUs Professional Play Server is just the place! And Tuesday evenings (starting at 7pm) is just the time!

First introduced in mid-October 2014, our Tuesday Evening Play ‘n’ Learn Nights are an ideal opportunity for you to hop onto the GamingEDUs Professional Play server and hang out with me (GumbyBlockhead) and PraxisMaxis and the other Elders. Master your keyboard and mouse in our Teacher Training Zone, stake your claim on some land, and build up an inventory of materials and skills so that you are ready to sally forth (or fifth) into the World Of Teaching with Minecraft. Yes, indeed, there is such a land!

The hardest part in joining us is making the decision to join us! Once you’ve done that, the rest is easy peasy!

  1. Get yourself a Minecraft account (pick a cool username!) and download and install Minecraft ($26.95 USD).
  2. Let us know your username so we can add you to our server.
  3. Log on to our server Tuesday evenings starting at 7 pm (eastern time) and join in the fun!

You can always drop me a line at gumby [at] gumbyblockhead [dot] com, or connect with me on twitter (@GumbyBlockhead) so we can prepare a fine welcome for you. Or just drop in spontaneously starting at 7 pm, and join us for some delicious Minecraft cake!

Remember, everything you do for the first time is a great opportunity to learn — and learning new things is what we’re all about! n00b It Up with us and get your learning on!

Put Tuesday evenings on your calendar now, and we look forward to seeing you in the near future!

Your Friend-in-Gaming,