What actually is it?
I'll be honest, I have no idea.
But I'm teaching Year 2s next year and apparently Minecraft is super popular with this age group - so I've asked another teacher/mummy blogger Fi from Mumma Morrison to help me understand it with a guest post explaining some Minecraft activities she did with her class in 2015 before she had her little boy and commenced maternity leave.
If you were like me a year or two ago, you may have heard the word “Minecraft” coming from a child’s lips and wondered what on earth they were talking about. A game on the iPad? Probably a waste of time and money!
However once I actually heard about the premise of the game and its applications, I thought it was brilliant! I thought it was a great use of technology to inspire children to become critical and creative thinkers.
Earlier this year I spoke at a teacher’s conference about the educational benefits of Minecraft. There are many, but here are the main ones for a home context!
- Critical thinking and problem solving – children have to think about the problems they face, such as no resources, and create solutions to these issues. For example, if you are in survival mode and it becomes night time (when all the monsters come out!), how are you going to survive the night? What resources do you need to use and how are you going to build a shelter?
- Creativity – children have free rein over what the build! They can build castles, houses, gardens – I had an 8 year old student create a dinosaur skeleton!
- Mathematical thinking – part of the game’s premise is to craft resources by combining materials. This involves knowing certain quantities of materials, as well as calculating how many resources one might need to build certain things.
So what are some of the ways you can use Minecraft to help your child’s development at home?
- Ask your child to build a structure (anything they want!) and describe it to you – either verbally or written. This can build their language and communication skills. Ask them to use as many describing words as they can to build their vocabulary.
- Another language opportunity – describe something to your child and have them build it in Minecraft. For example, it is 10 blocks high, 12 blocks wide and 3 blocks deep… If you have more than one child, they can do this together: one describes while the other builds, and vice versa – see what they come up with!
- Encourage your child to use their imagination to build something ridiculous! You might give them a specific task (build a castle for a horse – what would they want/need in it?)
- If your child is in primary school, you can incorporate homework tasks into Minecraft (maybe as a reward!) – math tasks such as multiplication and division can be incorporated into the game (make a building with 4 walls with 50 blocks each. How many blocks did you use?).
- This can also stem into problem solving skills – ask your child to solve a problem in the Minecraft world: If you only have enough wood to make an axe (to dig, to mine resources) or some torches (to see at night, to survive at night time), which would you choose and why? Show me in Minecraft what you would do to solve the other issues you would face based on your choice.
- Teaching social skills to your child, especially those who may have special needs. I used Minecraft with additional apps (like ‘Strip Designer’) to get students to create a comic strip showing correct ways to behave in the classroom. It would make a great social story of how your child should interact with others.
There are endless opportunities for creativity and problem solving in the Minecraft world, but most importantly it is FUN and EDUCATIONAL. What better way for your child to develop these important societal skills than being engaged and enjoying themselves?
Fi and I have done a guest blog swap! So be sure to pop over to her blog to read my 10 Brilliant Baby Play Ideas post! xx
Thanks so much Fi for sharing these fantastic learning opportunities inspired by Minecraft! I'm hoping to do more activity ideas for 6-8 year olds this year - please comment below if you have children in year 1 or 2 at school and if that would be something you'd be interested in?