Welcome to the New Year! 2019 Sign of the Times Update

“LiraGrim checks out the fishies in the SOTT2019 Aquarium” animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

Members of the @GamingEDUs gang gathered on New Year’s Eve for the Seventh Annual Sign of the Times party. This year our festivities took place on the GumbyCraft server on an island in the middle of a newly-located Aquatic Update coral reef.

In addition to Jack’s Snack Shack, this year’s event featured a Trident Toss with prismarine prizes, a Battle with the Drowned arena, a Dolphin & Squid Aquarium (later populated with tropical fish), carnies, numerous shipwrecks, and for the kiddies, a Fish Pond. We also enjoyed a wonderfully exciting Dophin Jump Sea Steeplechase race, A recently restored Good Ship Blockhead was also available onsite for tours.

2019: The Seventh Annual Sign of the Times event

With the arrival of the New Year comes the annual @GamingEDUs Sign of the Times (SOTT) event.

Our Minecraft worlds have continued to evolve since our first annual event seven years ago. With the arrival of v1.13 The Aquatic Update, JackIsJanx, PhisaGrim and GumbyBlockhead have been working on yet another build sign playground for this year’s event.

Join us on New Years eve, starting at 7pm on the GumbyCraft server for lots of fun, fellowship, and food (Jack’s Snack Shack is back!), as well as our fantastic fireworks!

6th Annual “The Sign of the Times” Party

The sign for the 6th annual Sign of the Times party has been constructed, and the fireworks launchers have been installed. Will you be joining us on New Year’s Eve for our yearly tradition?

JackIsJanx and PhisaGrim and MikeyTyrant were all buzzing around the new Rainbow Island Amusement Park yesterday getting things in order.

Some of the diversions on Rainbow Island include:

  • Rainbow Pathway Race
  • Human Hockey
  • Pig Fishing
  • The p00ter and Janx Improv Theatre
  • The Giant Cage of Parrots
  • Jack’s Snack Shack (and also a “Mysterious Donut”)

Jack and Phisa had started construction of the various amusements several months ago, and had pre-laid out the site for the sign. It was a simple matter for Mikey and I to drop and set up the sign. I’ve been exploring with cement on the nearby mainland for a while, but the action this  evening will be fully focused on Rainbow Island. (We may pop out to visit the previous 5 signs scattered throughout the various reaches of the GamingEDUs survival world that has been migrated from the Professional Play Server.)

Please drop by and join us! The official events will take place between 7-9 pm ET, but things will be going on this afternoon on the server as well in preparation! Hope to see you there!


Map: Rainbow Island Amusement Park

Slash Commands for #MinecraftEE 1.0.17

I had a query this evening regarding a link to the /slash commands formerly available on the education.minecraft.net site. In investigating the link, I encountered a 404 error. In fact, the whole collection of articles previously linked in my Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE Part 3 Digging Even Deeper post  were now broken:

“Broken Links on education.minecraft.net,” image by @gumbyblockhead

Nobody likes broken links.

Searching within the Support – Knowledge Base only led to a list of /slash commands from September 19, 2016, last updated on November 1st, 2016. At the time, the document lists 32 unique commands.

By paging through the /help pages for MinecraftEE 1.0.17, I have compiled the following list of 67 commands that exist in the current release. Each command listed below provides the noted parameters and required syntax. Note that I have not had time to test each one as yet. Something for another day.

Colourful Parrots on GumbyCraft

“Parrots on GumbyCraft,” animatedGIF by @GumbyBlockhead

Colourful Parrots and all the other spectacular goodness of the Minecraft 1.12 update have arrived on the GumbyCraft server. A few parrots have moved into the Gumby Chalet at the site of the 2017 Sign of the Times get-together. Further exploration in the wild should result in more being located.

In the meantime, Gumby is out searching for some new building materials in the far reaches of the Survival world, with plans on building a giant concrete structure of some kind!

Explore far and wide, Minecrafters!

Mojang Releases New Official Minecraft Books!

Minecraft: Guide to Exploration (May 30), Creative (May 30), The Nether and The End (Sept 5) and Redstone (Oct 10)

Yesterday, just after school ended, I checked my email and discovered that Minecraft creator Mojang AB had released some new official Minecraft books! Although the email came from another online reseller, I checked the Chapters.Indigo.ca website and discovered that the May 30th releases were already available in my local store, just a short drive away! It took only a few minutes to stop by and snag a couple of copies of the first two hardcover titles, Minecraft: Guide to Exploration and Minecraft: Guide to Creative.

Last night, I checked again online and was surprised to see two other titles listed under the “Purchasers also bought” section of the Amazon.ca website. As it turns out, Mojang is also preparing to release two additional titles, Minecraft: Guide to The Nether and The End and Minecraft: Guide to RedstoneAlthough they are only available now as pre-order, they have release dates of September 5th, 2017 and October 10th, 2017 respectively.

As with the previous The Complete Minecraft Handbook Collection (updated edition, 2015), the books are published by Egmont. In checking their website, there is additional news that the four books will be available as a box set, The Minecraft Guide Collection, around the release of the fourth in the series,  listed at October 5th.

The Minecraft Guide Collection (available October 5th, 2017)

Also listed as coming this fall are the following:

Minecraft Survival Tin (Oct 5th), Minecraft Mobestiary (Oct 5th), and Minecraft Annual 2018 (Nov 16th).

  • Minecraft Survival Tin (October 5th), containing the Survivor’s Book of Secrets (2016), a doodle book, a hostile mob identification poster, and stickers;
  • The Minecraft Mobestiary, (October 5th), described as “the definitive guide to every mob in the game;
  • Minecraft Annual 2017, (November 16th)

Read on, Minecrafters! Read on!

  • Minecraft: Guide to Exploration (ISBN 978-0399182013)
  • Minecraft: Guide to Creative (ISBN 978-0399182020)
  • Minecraft: Guide to The Nether and The End (ISBN 978-1524797232)
  • Minecraft: Guide to Redstone (ISBN 978-1524797225)
  • The Minecraft Guide Collection (ISBN 978-1405288576)
  • Minecraft Survival Tin (ISBN 978-1405288200)
  • Minecraft Mobestiary (ISBN 978-1524797164)
  • Minecraft Annual 2018 (ISBN 978-1405287586)

Ocean Monument Garden

I was looking for a nice Minecraft challenge today, and I decided to return and tackle an Ocean Monument that Joop, Phisagram, and I found a few months back. I’d started an approach to the monument via an underground tunnel back then, and and so I had considerable success today avoiding the bulk of the Guardians by continuing the tunnel and then working my way upwards from below.

Ocean Monument Garden, looking toward the Arch-Greenhouse," animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

Ocean Monument Garden, looking toward the monument-arch Greenhouse,” animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

Although my traditional approach makes use of gravel for removing the water from the rooms, I was fortunate enough to run into a chamber of sponges early on, and that made things all the easier. Although I had started mining the Sea Lanterns to begin with, once I found the sponges it was a lot easier to move more quickly and leave the lanterns in place and so a good number of them remain where they were originally located.

"Ocean Monument Garden Dedication," animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

“Ocean Monument Garden Dedication,” animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

Once the main cavity was cleared of water and the chamber walls were broken down, I tackled the arch area, thinking that the existing structure would make for a nice greenhouse. The first crop planted was the wheat in the greenhouse under the arch.

"Greenhouse under the Arch," animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

“Greenhouse under the Arch,” animated GIF by @GumbyBlockhead

The main section of the garden features a large fields of each of watermelons, pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, and beets. To ensure good plant growth, I installed a lot of torches within the monument and also opened up the ceiling to sunlight by enclosing the top portion of the monument in glass.  Once the gardens were planted, I took some time to light up the exterior as well with some sea lanterns from a previous monument.

The end result looks beautiful from the nearby tower.

“Ocean Monument Garden, At Night,” capture by @GumbyBlockhead.

Here is a shot from another angle, showing the Ocean Monument, and the Gumby Tower located on the nearby isle. Joop’s Bountiful Tree is visible beside the tower.

"Ocean Monument Garden with Joop's Tree and the Gumby Tower," capture by @GumbyBlockhead

“Ocean Monument Garden with Joop’s Tree and the Gumby Tower,” capture by @GumbyBlockhead

I once spent the better part of a week clearing out an ocean monument with the intent of building a Guardian Grinder. Sadly the project was on a server that is no longer online, and so I only have screen captures of the progression. I’ll have to return and attempt that project on GumbyCraft, knowing that the world won’t be suddenly up and disappearing on me.

Getting Started with Classroom Mode for Minecraft

Minecraft: Education Edition (#MinecraftEE) has a couple of add-on tools that support the use of Minecraft in an educational setting, Classroom Mode for Minecraft, and Code Builder. This post offers a brief “getting started” overview for the first add-on, Classroom Mode for Minecraft.

  1. Make sure you have the latest downloads of
  2. Launch Minecraft: Education Edition and Login with your O365 account.
  3. Choose a world to share. (If you do not have one yet, click Create New.)
  4. The world will load and you will appear in the world.
  5. Press ESC to return to the menu, and select Settings
  6.  Under “World,” click Multiplayer. Ensure that both Multiplayer Game and Broadcast to LAN are on (toggled to the right).
  7. Press ESC to return to the menu, and then Resume Game.
  8. Launch Classroom Mode for Minecraft on the same machine (for initial testing purposes), and Login with your O365 account.
  9. In Classroom Mode, you should see a Connect dialogue, and your hosted world should be listed under LAN, displaying your username and your IP address. Click that entry to view that world in Classroom Mode.
  10. You will then see the map of the hosted world. You should see yourself located on the map. If you move around in the Minecraft: Education Edition world. you should see your pointer moving around on the map.

If the source (host) world is closes down, you will see the following dialogue on formerly connected machines.

Note: Classroom Mode for Minecraft is different from the @TeacherGaming #MinecraftEDU product, which provided a server+control interface. The current Classroom Mode for Minecraft offers primarily a method by which you connect to an already hosted world, be that a teacher-hosted world, or one hosted by a student, and observe where students are located. 

The education.minecraft.net website provides two tutorials for using Classroom Mode for Minecraft.

You can check them out here:

A PDF version of this post is also available for printing.

5th Annual Sign of the Times 2017 New Year’s Party

Please drop by on New Year’s Eve for the 5th Annual Sign of the Times event. The 2017 sign has been built, and plans are underway to celebrate the coming year with friends, fun, and fireworks! The event will begin at 7pm and run to 9pm. This year the event will be hosted on the Gumbycraft server, which now also hosts the  Creative and Survival worlds from the GamingEDUs Professional Play Server. If you were whitelisted on the Professional Play server, you should be able to easily join us! Login and simply take the portal from the Gumbycraft spawn direct to the Sign of the Times 2017 site.

Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper


This is the third post intending to provide an introduction to the newly released Minecraft: Education Edition.

NOTE: You may wish to begin with:

Sunday Evening: Exploring Even Deeper

Minecraft: Education Edition (#MinecraftEE) provides educators with a number of education-specific features that are different from those native to vanilla #Minecraft, and #MinecraftPE (Personal Edition).

In TeacherGaming’s modded #MinecraftEDU, there were dialogue box interface elements and server management features added by TeacherGaming that contributed to education functions in support of managing World files and world features, students permissions and assignments, and a host of other useful functions.

The key (from the end of Part 2, please read) to getting at the important education elements in #MinecraftEE lies in understanding and accessing text-based commands that are “buried under the hood.” To access them, you need to become familiar with using the “slash” / key in the text chat. There is no server option or significant GUI interface for education features at this point in design of the product. In this regard, #MinecraftEE is notably different from #MinecraftEDU. 

In vanilla #Minecraft, there are commands which have no GUI interface but which are accessed by typing syntax-correct text expressions in the chat bar, for example:

/gamemode 0
/gamemode 1
/gamemode 3

The statements above are examples of text commands used to toggle to Survival, Creative, or Spectator, respectively, or to set a home base or return to a home base. Some text-based commands are added to vanilla #Minecraft by the addition of mod files.

#MinecraftEE has a set of similar “slash commands” (accessed by typing the forward slash / key) to access. When typing commands, the #MinecraftEE text box employs a nice prediction feature to help save you time typing and cut down on mistyped keystrokes. Use the TAB key while typing a command to auto-complete the command.

Understanding the slash commands is the path to getting access to the various #MinecraftEE education features (NPCs, border/allow/deny blocks, access to camera/portfolio/) so that you as an educator can unlock its current potential.

Text-based "slash" commands in #MinecraftEE

Text-based “slash” commands in #MinecraftEE

Here is a brief explanation of each of the commands present in #MinecraftEE:

  • /ability Sets a player’s ability
  • /clone Copies blocks from one place to another (does not appear at this time)
  • /deop Revoke operator status from a player
  • /fill Fills a region with a specific block/
  • /gamemode Sets a player’s game mode
  • /gamerule Sets or queries a game rule value
  • /give Gives an item to a player
  • /help Provides help for commands
  • /kill Removes entities (players, mobs, items, etc.)
  • /list Lists players on the server
  • /op Grants operator status to a player
  • /say Displays a message to multiple players
  • /setblock Changes a block to another block
  • /setfixedinvslot Places a particular block type in one of the fixed inventory slots
  • /setfixedinvslots Sets the number of fixed inventory slots (from 1-3)
  • /setworldspawn Sets the world spawn (where new players appear the first time they join)
  • /spawnpoint Sets the spawn point for a player
  • /summon Summons an entity
  • /tell Displays a private message to other players
  • /testforblock Tests whether a block is in a location
  • /testforblocks Tests whether the blocks in two regions match
  • /time Changes or queries the world’s game time
  • /toggledownfall Toggles the weather
  • /tp Teleports entities
  • /weather Sets the weather
  • /xp Adds or removes player experience.

For those familiar with using such commands in #Minecraft, knowing that the commands are present and how they need to be used will likely be sufficient. For educators who are newer to #Minecraft or to text-based commands in general, it is important to know that many (but not necessarily all) of the commands require additional text-based arguments (parameters) — details to complete the instruction.

An Example: Changing the weather

The command /weather (which makes in-game changes to the weather) requires one of three possible arguments to identify the type of weather. If you type /weather (and then a space), the three possible options appear above the chat bar as prompts:


Note that one of these three options is sufficient to effect a change in the weather. Try each of the following, pressing the return key after each to initiate the command.

/weather rain
/weather thunder
/weather clear

Note that the /weather command can also take a second parameter after the selected weather option (clear/rain/thunder) in the form of a number to specify the duration of that weather type. Try the following:

/weather rain 20
/weather thunder 1200 
/weather clear 2400

Time in Minecraft is measured in “ticks.”  20 ticks is about one second in real time. Did you wonder why the rain only lasted for a second? 20×60=1200 (one minute).

The Key: Accessing the Educator-specific Features of #MinecraftEE

The key to accessing the education-specific features of #MinecraftEE is to use the command /ability for whenever you wish to make such changes.  The /ability command takes three parameters to effect this change (a username, the specific ability, and the boolean value true):

/ability GumbyBlockhead worldbuilder true

As of the June 2016 release, there are two possible abilities that may be effected using the /ability command:


Giving yourself the worldbuilder ability as well as setting your /gamemode to creative opens the door to the following:

  • NPCs: place NPCs using the multi-coloured spawnNPC egg (third tab in creative), and edit them by right-clicking to access their name, text box, and learn-more URL.
  • Slates, Posters, Boards: place slates, posters, and boards (second tab in creative) by right clicking. Right-click again to edit.
  • Deny Blocks: place deny blocks (first tab in creative) underneath an area which you do not want users to be able to change.
  • Allow Blocks: place allow blocks (first tab in creative) above existing deny blocks to allow users to make changes to the area above the allow blocks.
  • Border Blocks: place border blocks to restrict movement of players (a larger border around a specific learning area with the spawn inside will stop students from wandering off)
  • Fixed Inventory Slots: provide up to three additional inventory slots (cycle through the by using the 0 key) to the right of the standard 1-9 slot using /setfixedinvslots
  • Set Contents of Fixed Inventory Slots: assign a specific block type (camera, portfolio, etc.) to a specific fixed inventory slot using /setfixedinventoryslot

Try the following:

/setfixedinvslots 3
/setfixedinvslot 1 camera
/setfixedinvslot 2 portfolio
/setfixedinvslot 3 slate

To test things out as the user will experience  (to see if your NPC web links are working, or to test your boundary blocks, etc, you will need to remove your worldbuilder ability.

/ability GumbyBlockhead worldbuilder false

Note that when you use the /ability command, you would specify YOUR username, not mine! As soon as you have typed /ability and a space, your username should appear as a possible target in the pop-up above the text bar.


If you have followed through this far, you are well on your way to understanding the education-specific features of #MinecraftEE Minecraft: Education Edition. Play around with the features and explore.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions! We can learn together.

You may wish to download and check out GumbySample.zip which includes a GumbySample.mcworld file and ReadMe.txt file. Import the world file into your #MinecraftEE using the Import button.

Profile Types

There are 3 types of “profiles” in #MinecraftEE: normal, operator, and worldbuilder.

  • Users who connect to a world over a LAN will join with a normal profile.
  • If you are hosting the world for others to connect to, you will automatically have an operator profile, which gives you access to the “slash commands.”
  • If you have opened the world as operator, you can give yourself the /ability  worldbuilder to make use of the education-specific features.

Learning More

There are a number of posts on the education.minecraft.net/ site that will serve as reference in the initial stages of your exploration of #MinecraftEE. I’m sure other resources will be forthcoming over the next few months.

Keep an eye out for Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 4: Analysis in the next few days which will offer a comprehensive overview of the options available to educators (#Minecraft, MinecraftPE, and #MinecraftEE) who are looking to use #MinecraftEd in general  with learners.