Welcome to Tynker’s Minecraft Modding camp/after-school course. With this course, your students will go from little or no programming experience to confident coders who can express themselves creatively with modding. They’ll learn how to create custom resource packs, use code blocks to build mods, program simple mods, use the drone tool to construct buildings programmatically, and code full multiplayer Minecraft games in Tynker. Students can deploy their mods and resources to their own private server within the Tynker multiplayer server.
10 scaffolded, self-guided lessons, approximately one hour each
5 additional DIY projects that kids can work on if they finish a lesson early
15 lesson guides: one for each lesson, plus one for each additional DIY project, that will teach you what is important to emphasize and how you should teach important concepts
2400 minutes per student of time on a private Minecraft server over the next two months to test out their mods and resources
A computer (desktop or laptop) capable of running Minecraft for each student
A Minecraft client and login for each student (this must be the classic Minecraft, not the Xbox, Windows 10 Beta, or Pocket Edition)
A Tynker camp administrator account for yourself
A Tynker student account for each student
We recommend spacing this course out over at least one week and no more than two months. Your students’ time on their private Minecraft servers will expire after two months.
If you’re running a one-week camp, assign two lessons per day. When you assign a lesson, all students will have access to that lesson. You should assign lessons in order because they build on each other.
Remind students that they have limited time to access their private Minecraft server, so they should be careful with how they use it! Each student has 2400 minutes on their private server over the next two months (starting when the student first accesses a Minecraft lesson in Tynker).
Assign additional DIY projects (such as the Lucky Block mod) whenever students finish early. These are especially helpful if you have 6th-8th graders, who may be able to grasp concepts more quickly.
Review the teacher guide before each lesson so you have a sense of what students will be working on and what issues you should anticipate. This is also a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with the concepts they will be learning.
Do each lesson yourself before assigning it to students, including all the extra suggestions at the end of the DIY projects. This will make it much easier for you to help students as they have questions. You can also experiment further with the concepts in Tynker’s Mod Designer.
Pull up the answer key for each lesson before class so you have it available if students run into any issues.
For the most part, students should be able to progress through lessons independently. This frees you up to help younger or struggling students, as well as to creatively brainstorm with kids about how they can improve their mods and games.
Tynker’s lessons intentionally do not check whether a student’s DIY project is “done” because this would require checking against a single completed sample to see whether the project matches exactly. This would discourage students from customizing projects, which we hope they will do. However, this means that the system will mark a DIY project as complete as soon as the student clicks the “I’m Done” button on the last slide of the tutorial, even if they haven’t completed the entire tutorial. It is up to you to check that students are actually completing DIY projects. A good way to do this is to ask them to show off their completed projects. This will encourage them to complete the project as well as to make it their own!
At the end of each lesson, review the key vocabulary from that lesson and see if there are any gaps in understanding.
Expected Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Students will be able to apply these concepts:
Set up a Tynker account
Find your Minecraft username
Link your Minecraft account to your Tynker account
Customize your character’s skin
Enter Tynker’s Minecraft server and your own private Minecraft server
Deploy mods to your private Minecraft server
Design your first mod using code blocks
Use simple event blocks to detect events that happen in the game
Send messages using the Minecraft command line
Tynker code block: These blocks represent programming concepts and can be attached to create programs.
Event block: The event blocks will run any blocks attached to them when the specified event occurs. Examples include the “on start” block (runs all attached blocks when the program starts) and the “when [player] moves to [location]” block (runs all attached blocks when any player moves to a new location). You can recognize them because they are shaped differently from other blocks (notch in the bottom but not the top).
Tynker Mod Designer: This is where you will create all your Minecraft mods and games. On the left, you’ll see all the code blocks and in the middle, you can drag the code blocks to create your program.
Skins: You can change the look of your Minecraft character by designing a new skin and uploading it to your Mojang account.
Sounds: You can play sounds in Minecraft, but you have to specify where the sound will originate as well as how loud it will be.
Particle Effects: You can create special effects in Minecraft that normally appear for events like explosions, death, fireworks, spells, and more. Particle effects refer broadly to effects created by many small sprites, usually being emitted from a source and only visible for a short amount of time before disappearing.
Parameter: You can use parameters to access or pass additional information. For example, the event block “when [player] moves to another block [location]” has two parameters: player and location. This means that you can drag out these two blocks from the event block to access information about which player moved and the player’s location.
Materials, Resources, and Prep
Have one computer (laptop or desktop) for each student that can log on to tynker.com.
Prepare teacher computer screen to display to the whole class.
Use your camp instructor or administrator account to set up a free Tynker account for each camper before they arrive.
Print student username/password cards. You can find these if you click on the relevant classroom in your Tynker dashboard, go to the Students tab, and click “Generate Student Cards.”
Make sure that you have a Minecraft account for each student. If they are using their own accounts, remind parents ahead of time to write out their login information. If you are providing Minecraft accounts, write these down for students as well. Tynker is only compatible with the Mac and PC versions of Minecraft.
These activities provide an introduction to Tynker and block-based coding. You will need to be very involved in making sure that each student has successfully linked their Tynker and Minecraft accounts. Before continuing with the activities, ensure that each child can get onto the Tynker server and join their own private server. This first lesson will be the most intensive for you as an instructor because students are still getting familiar with the tools and getting set up.
For this first lesson, it’s nice to do the activities together as a class, talking through the logic and working on a large screen at the front of the class. Because students will make some large final projects using everything they’ve learned at camp at the end of the week, remind them that they should be brainstorming and sharing their ideas for what they might make!
1. Getting Started (video)
Watch video with students.
Explain that Tynker is a creative platform that will allow them to use code to create anything they can imagine, and that Tynker can interface directly with Minecraft so that they can change the rules of Minecraft.
Ask students to start brainstorming as they go through the course. What mods or games would they like to make?
At this point, you need to make sure that all students are able to successfully join Tynker’s Minecraft server and link their Tynker account and Minecraft account. While students are waiting for help, they can hang out in the Tynker lobby world. This will give them a chance to explore the kinds of games and mods they will be able to create with Tynker and will give you time to help other students.
Make sure all students are able to log in to their Tynker accounts.
Help all students navigate to the “Minecraft” section, then the “My Server” tab.
Make sure all students enter their Minecraft profile name. Note that capitalization does matter and there should be no spaces or extra characters. This is a crucial step and one that will prevent students from finishing the linking process if they do not do it correctly.
Allow students to name their world.
Direct students to open Minecraft and log in. From the title screen, select the “Multiplayer” option and add a new server. The server address must be mc.tynker.com and we suggested putting Tynker as the server name.
Have students join Tynker’s Minecraft server for the first time and allow them to explore.
To test whether their Minecraft and Tynker accounts are successfully linked, have students type “/join” from the Tynker lobby world or walk through the central purple portal. The first time they join their own world, it may take several minutes and it may even cause them to exit the server. This is not a problem. Just have the student re-enter the Tynker server. All subsequent times should be much quicker.
2. Minecraft Skins (video)
Before you start the video, ask students to explain what a skin is. Most will already know, but if you have any students who are less familiar with Minecraft, they might not know.
Ask for ideas from students about what skins they might want for their Minecraft character and have them make a sketch of what they want to make.
Watch the video with students.
After finishing the video, direct students to make at least one new skin. For now, they should make a skin and not other resources (like items, blocks, or mobs) because skins must be deployed in a unique way.
Make sure students experiment with all the drawing tools at the top of the skin editor, including the paintbrush, the texture brush, and the skin rotator.
For any students not interested in making their own skins, allow them to explore the skins in the Tynker community and save one that is their favorite that they want to use.
When most students are ready to move on, tell them to check whether they’ve used an “Alex” or a “Steve” skin, then download and save their new skin. They can always go back and work on their skin more when they get home. Any time making mods, skins, or items in Tynker doesn’t count against their server time limit.
Have students log into their Minecraft accounts at minecraft.net, click on their profile name at the top right, and choose “Profile” from the drop-down menu. Now they can choose whether they were using an Alex or Steve model and upload their file.
Direct students back to Minecraft and have them join the Tynker Minecraft server. As soon as they join, they’ll be able to see their new skin if they’ve uploaded and saved it correctly. They can click the F5 key (or the function key with the F5 key on a Mac) to see their skin from third person.
3. Start Modding (concept project + DIY project)
Before having students do this activity, do it yourself on your projected screen to reinforce the process of deploying the mod and viewing it in your Minecraft private server.
This is where students are first introduced to the idea of code blocks. If students are new to coding, this will take some digesting!
Make sure students realize that they can drag code blocks directly from the side tutorial bar if the blocks have a gray background. Code blocks that are just on a white background cannot be dragged.
Reinforce the idea of an event block. You can recognize an event block because of its special shape (rounded on the top with only a notch on the bottom) and by its orange color. Blocks that are in your code will not run unless they are attached to an event block, which will trigger the blocks attached to it when a given event occurs.
The back-and-forth editing cycle of creating a mod, deploying it to the server, going into the server to check it, then back into Tynker to debug or edit may seem confusing at first, but students will get used to it soon.
This first mod is simple, but should familiarize students with the process of deploying a mod and using code blocks.
Some students may have already used block-based coding, in which case this activity will seem very basic. Reassure them that it will get more challenging very quickly!
If any students are having trouble getting their DIY lesson marked as “done” by the Tynker system, show them that they need to click the “I’m Done” button on the last slide of the tutorial for Tynker to accept the project as done and move them on to the next module.
4. Twinkle Toes (concept project + DIY project)
This concept project introduces another event block, “when [player] moves to another block [location].” This is the first block students have seen that may not be immediately intuitive to them. It will be triggered any time any play moves from one block to another.
Students will notice that the “when [player] moves to another block [location]” event block has two words in blue. These blocks are called parameters and can be used to access additional information about the player that has moved and the player’s location. When creating a mod, you can drag these blue blocks out of the event block to use in your code. Parameters are a tricky concept, so it’s not important that students fully understand all the ways they can use parameters yet. They’ll do more with parameters later!
The “play sound” block is the first time that students will see a block with a slightly darker text box that says “add location block here.” Ask them what they think would happen if they deployed their code without putting a location block into that field. How would the program know where to play a sound? The correct answer is that the block would do nothing because it doesn’t have enough information to run.
Tell students that they must add a block whenever they see that kind of text field, or their program won’t work. A good sanity check to do before deploying a mod is to make sure there are no text fields that say “add block here” still visible. If there’s no block there, your code won’t run!
Have students complete this short mod and deploy it to their servers. If any of their mods don’t work, have them check against their neighbor’s code. Do they have a value for each field in the “play sound” block? Are the two blocks fully connected? Is the mod activated? Are they joining their private server correctly? Note that mods won’t work in the Tynker lobby.
Students who finish early can go back into Tynker to tweak their code by choosing different sounds or notes.
5. Smoke Trails (concept project + DIY project)
The concept project first explains the subtle difference between “when [player] moves to location” and “when [player] moves to another block [location].” Make sure students can articulate the difference between these blocks. Ask them why they might use one over the other. Which one will be triggered more often?
Spawning particles is really easy with the “spawn particles” block. But, as always, remind students that the block will do nothing if you don’t put a valid location in the “add location block here” field.
Ask students what they think would happen if you put the “player” block in the “add location block here” field instead. After all, players have a location, so why couldn’t the “spawn particles” block detect that location? Well, it turns out that this won’t work. If a block calls for a location parameter, you can’t pass it a player parameter. Pay attention to what kind of parameter each block needs!
This is a good time to review turning off mods. Students can click the home button at the top left of the screen to go back to the course page. Then click on the “Minecraft” tab and choose “Mods.” From here, you can activate or deactivate any of your mods by clicking at the bottom right of a mod. Alternatively, you can click the “My Server” tab and control which mods are active in the “Installed Mods” section.
Eventually, students may want to turn off some of their first mods. Some mods may even interact with other mods or make it so that new mods don’t work. If you ever can’t figure out why a mod isn’t working, try deactivating all the other mods on your server.
6. Block Reporter (concept project + DIY project)
You’ll learn about “when [player] breaks [block],” which is triggered whenever any player breaks any block.
Ask students if they understand the difference between the “say” block and the “say to player” block. Which players will see each message? When would you want to send a message to all players or just one?
Next is the “get type of [add block here],” which allows you to find the type of a block. This will give you the type (such as brick, stone, or grass) of a block.
Did you notice how the concept project used the plus button on the “say” block? This allows you to add multiple fields that will be said, instead of just static text.
In the DIY project, the students will make a short program that tells the player what kind of block they just broke! If their mod doesn’t work, make sure they compare it to the picture in the tutorial and check that all the blocks are positioned similarly.
Celebrate with students as they earn their first badge!
Wrap Up and Extend the Learning
As students start to understand what is possible using Tynker’s Minecraft modding tools, encourage them to brainstorm what they’ll want to build in the future.
Make sure you remind students how the time limits on their Minecraft servers work. If they’re not actively using their server, they should disconnect from it so that it doesn’t stay on. Depending on the plan you’re using, you may want to caution them from signing on at all at home, lest they use up all their time.