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Friday, March 27, 2015

1st Grade Pixel Exploration (January - March)

This year's 1st Grade has been very passionate about the game Minecraft. During Technology class we followed the students' curiosity of what makes Minecraft characters "look like blocks".  Below you can read about our exploration journey.

Come and see the 1st Grade Minecraft Pixel Portraits at the Lower School in the Lehner Center (1st floor)!

What Are Pixels?

While using a drawing software called Kid Pix, 1st grade students were very interested in talking about why the stamps in the program looked like they belonged in Minecraft. The first graders began to make observations about the different stamps.

Why do the stamps in Kid Pix look like they belong in Minecraft?

“They can’t be from Minecraft because there are something [objects] that don’t exist in Minecraft” – Hakan

“Only some of the things look like they are in Minecraft. The things that look like they have blocks in them could be in Minecraft” – Skylar

“Some stamps have square edges and some stamps of smooth edges. The smooth edges [stamps] can’t be in Minecraft.” - Salar

“I know that the squares are called pixels” – Jonathan

Pixel Play
“What is a pixel?” – Skylar

“They are apart of pictures and scenes.” – Jonathan

“When you write letters or notes you can find a lot of teeny tiny pixels in them.” – Alex


Students create pictures on Kid Pix only using stamps. A few students experiment with the “Edit” button. The class visits each other’s computers and shares what they have learned.

Student Quotes:

“I found how to edit a stamp. You go to the pencil button and click on it. Then you can change the stamp however you want. “ – Salar

“If you click on the eraser tool the whole stamp will erase [the stamp]!” – Ryan

“You can make your own stamp if you erase the stamp that was there” - Danny

“You have to move the mouse slowly or the squares don’t line up.” – Ben F.

Pixel Play Part 2

Graph Paper Sketch
Students create a picture on large graph paper. Each box represents a pixel. First graders then recreate their image in the editor screen on Kid Pix. Students can then create a picture using their stamp as many times as they would like.

Pixel This!

Students play an online game on the NASA website called Pixel This. After playing the game we learn, “each square is called a "picture element," or "pixel." The more pixels there are, the more details we see. This is how digital cameras work.” 

Student Quotes:
“[Looking at the screen] The “O” looks like its circle because it is smooth, but I think they are square pixels” – Chloe

“A pixel is a square” - Finely

“You can make things out of them. Like the picture on the computer.” – Carl

“Pixels are really small but they can be big” – Emma

“Pixels are made out of even tinier squares that form something” - Ben F.

Are Pixels Important?

Students watch a short clip of how pixels are used in TV screens (color and black and white). The class discusses where else they might find pixels.

“They make up everything we see on the computer or iPad or TV.” - Sofia

“The [projector] screen uses pixels! You can see the pixels in each letter!” - Alex

“Pixels can be different colors” – Chloe

“It [pixels] can be any color” – Riley

“You can draw with pixels to make a character.” -Ryan

Pixel Portraits 

Students create pixel self-portrait (Minecraft character) with a photograph, graph paper, and Kid Pix stamp editor. Before starting their self-portrait the class discussed what symmetry means and how symmetry can be used in our pixel drawings.

*In Math students have been learning about symmetry.

Step 1: Take a photo of each student.

Step 2: Draw an outline of head, arms, body, legs, and feet on graph paper. Check that both sides of portrait are symmetrical with the other.

Step 3: Add facial features and hair to the portrait. Students do not need to make these features symmetrical.

Pixel Portraits: Coloring 
Step 1: Students start with coloring their hair color. 
Step 2: Students then add color to their face and then work their way down their portrait. 

Pixel Portrait Feedback

Students have been talking about giving feedback to their peers in homeroom. In technology, the students continue to discuss how to give or get feedback and how it can help improve their work. After coloring their pixel portraits students take a museum walk and give one person in the room feedback about their work.

“I notice that you colored outside of the line. It might look neater if you color in the lines.”

“I like how you made a flower on your shirt.”

“I notice that you made it [the portrait] really small.”
Digital Pixel Portraits

Summary: Students build their pixel portrait in the stamp editor on Kid Pix. They use the feedback they receive from their peers to make improvements to their digital pixel portrait.

How Are Pixels Used?

The class watches a fast forward video of a digital art designer using pixels to create animated characters like Wreck- It- Ralph and Fix-It-Felix.

“You can make video games out of pixels.” – Alec

“A pixel allows you to make characters.” – Giselle

“I was playing a computer game at home and I drew my character using pixels.” – Elizabeth

“My computer game doesn’t use pixels, it looks more real.” – Salar

[In response to Salar] “ The pixels might be teeny tiny and you couldn’t see them.” Jonathan

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