Art Portfolios in Minecraft: a Game Changer with the Power to Affect All of US

Attention teachers, parents, young artists and Minecrafters,

Any avid Minecrafter knows how to put paintings on a wall in game. Imagine if you could choose any piece of artwork you want and with ease, import it into Minecraft; that would be really cool. But even better, imagine if the paintings or artwork were yours, your child’s or your students’. ! That’s a game changer! Literally!

Enter Creatubbles, “a safe social platform for creative kids.” Creatubbles allows kids to share their artwork with other kids around the world in a totally safe, curated environment. Kids “Like” each others’ artwork by adding a bubble on a removable layer of the photo of the piece. Kids aren’t counting likes, they’re counting bubbles! What kid doesn’t like bubbles?! What a wonderful way to foster a love of art in young people. Creatubbles is creating museum goers, maybe even museum creators of the future. And get this, it is absolutely free! Teachers can also create galleries for each one of their classes for students to upload their artwork to.

How does Minecraft come into play? The founder of Creatubbles noticed that kids were uploading screenshots of their Minecraft creations. This got them thinking about streamlining the process so players wouldn’t have to take a screenshot, leave the game, upload to Creatubbles and then go back into the game. They created a mod with a shortcut to allow players to upload their Minecraft screenshots directly to Creatubbles from inside the game. But then, and this is really cool, they created a pipeline going the other direction to allow kids to import photos of their own artwork into the game as “paintings.” One of my students “hung” his artwork above his bed in his house.

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Kids now have the power to become museum designers and curators. Imagine kids flying through the game as they create and screencast tours through galleries and museums of their own artwork as a portfolio piece for school describing their growth and thought-process for each piece. This opens up a whole new Minecraft landscape to explore and expand upon. Like Minecraft in its early years, who knows where kids could take this new idea.

To be fair, there are videos describing how to import photographs of anything into Minecraft, but these procedures involve technical rigamarole involving bin files and more that would deter almost anyone. The Creatubbles Minecraft mod is easy to use; once photographs of artwork are uploaded to Creatubbles, the uploading and placing into Minecraft is all done from within the game. No technical rigamarole!

The mod pack is now live and available. Below are three links. The first is to the Creatubbles website where you can create an account for yourself, your daughter or son and for your class if you are a teacher. Creatubbles doesn’t have to be used with Minecraft. Connecting with other young artists all over the world is wonderful enough. The second is a link to the directions on how to install the Minecraft mod and how to use it. The third is a link to a Global Challenge created by a 9 year old boy named Owen.

Whether you are a teacher, a parent, a young artist, or a Minecrafter, I am sure you can see the incredibly, powerful potential of this new tool. Leveraging the super engaging environment of Minecraft, the Creatubbles mod has the power to foster creativity, communication, collaboration, appreciation and empathy for children around the world. In this day, while countries and people seem more polarized than ever in their opinions and viewpoints, through the sharing of art, Creatubbles has the potential to bring young people together by revealing their similarities before their differences divide them.

I would love to know your thoughts. And as always, thank you for reading.


Minecraft Student Letter…Chills

Below is an email from an eighth grade student. This is the third year of the Minecraft Exploratory at Brentwood School. Looks like the kids might take this to the next level. Three has always been my favorite number.

Mr. Kahn,                                                                                                                     When you sent me the email about league of legends, I happened to notice you had your blog link in the signature, so I decided to check it out. I am planning to join the [Minecraft] exploratory again this year, and had a few ideas about Eaglecraft.

I have recently been experimenting with a terrain generation program for Minecraft that allows you to customize your world map. I think it would be fun to have a game where we put everyone in a variety of environments with varying difficulty and see how well we can survive as a team. I have also found plugins that can add a harder survival environment, such as adding thirst and seasons, as well as things like heat, increasing the need for fire.

I think it would be fun to have Dylan (See previous post) help run the server as well. I took a java  corse over the summer, and have done some experimenting with plugins for Minecraft, and would like to learn more. It would be great to have someone with experience in plugin development manage the server. I look forward to meeting him, and having a great year in the Minecraft exploratory.

I hope you like my suggestions,

The more I think about this letter, the more moved I become. Being a middle school (within a k-12 school) with only a 7th and an 8th grade, there has sometimes been friction between the two grades. After all, the totem pole only has two levels, the top and the bottom. This year, a considerable effort is being made to stymie this friction and turn the tide. Indeed, the eighth graders this year do not even see a totem pole. The letter above speaks to this point as well as to the power of Minecraft.

Furthermore, this takes me back to a post from March of 2012, the day “Minecraft Ends.” I wrote,  “I am now even more determined to provide a safe place for the “geeky kids,” to be, to play and to explore their interests. And I thought I was just getting into Minecraft.”

Minecraft is not only a wonderful game, but also a conduit for creating incredibly valuable human interactions and friendships, ironically born out of a virtual reality environment.

What if Sander and Dylan strike up a friendship centered around Minecraft that lasts a lifetime? Who knows what, together, they may create.

I have the chills.


One Year Wiser…

…but not wise enough.

The school year is under way and we had our Exploratory faire a week and half ago. Eighteen students signed up for Minecraft, including 2 eighth grade boys, 14 seventh grade boys and 2 seventh grade girls. That’s 2 more girls than last year!

All the computers were updated with the newest version and we were ready to go for our first Exploratory which was last week. I made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that I would hear about the computers not working if there were problems.

I arrived 10 minutes early and students were already there. I was hit with the bad news: “Bad video card drivers.” I called the tech department but they could not fix it in time to salvage our first meeting. With 18 kids in a computer lab, I had to think fast before things deteriorated into chaos.

“OK everyone, pair up (I love having even numbers of students) and play the game, Fire Boy and Water Girl.” This is a great game because kids solve problems together.
The video cards have since been updated and the computers have been checked. All set for this Thursday.


The video cards have since been updated and the computers have been checked. All set for this Thursday.



Minecraft and other virtual worlds can be feasts for the eyes and ears. In addition, these worlds can evoke deep emotional responses, inspire creativity and create lasting memories. Nevertheless, there are some senses that virtual worlds cannot stimulate:

  • The feeling of the crisp, cold mountain air in the morning.
  • The heat of the first rays of sun hitting your campsite.
  • The butterscotch smell of the bark of a Jeffrey Pine Tree.
  • The feeling of the cold river water engulfing you as you jump in a pool.
  • The smell and taste of coffee in the morning and s’mores around the campfire in the evening.
  • The tug on the fishing rod and the taste of fresh caught trout.

Can you tell where I have just came back from? Continue reading


“Today, Minecraft Ends!”

Tuesday: Like all good middle schools, we constantly educate our kids on how to be kind to each other. In response to some recent bullying incidences, a teacher produced a wonderful activity for a grade level meeting of 120 students. They shook hands with 10 kids with whom they have never eaten lunch. The activity went beautifully. The whole idea was to foster inclusiveness and acceptance of everybody in our community. The kids felt good and there was a lot of laughter and friendliness. Ten minutes remained, and the teachers opened up the floor to “What’s on your minds?”

There was, of course, the continual commentary on the food. Then one kid, who happens to be a minority, (you’ll see why this is important), said something that some kids chuckled at. He then shouted, “And today, Minecraft ENDS!” The students erupted with applause and laughter. The teachers quieted the group and swiftly pointed out what the boy had just done; he single-handedly undid everything the group had just accomplished. He used his “power” to single out a minority (the geeky kids) to be targeted and picked on. Please read on…

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