Educational Minecraft

Kevin and I have been playing Minecraft for over a decade now. I believe it was Beta 1.8 when I purchased my copy of the game for around $5 CAD. (When I purchased my daughter’s account last year it cost me $30 CAD) In the time since, this game has exploded with different things to break down, craft together and build. There have been additional biomes (jungle, grassland, desert, tunra, etc), worlds (such as the Nether and End), and platform editions (java, bedrock, dungeons, etc) made to the game. And every time I come back from a break from playing I find new and interesting things to do and see.

I absolutely love the family-friendly nature of Minecraft – it’s essentially a sandbox of square building blocks, and it allows for your imagination to be the only thing holding you back. Both of my children have begun to play as well, which got me thinking about how educational this game has been for the two of them.

First off I think my kids are learning problem-solving skills as the game requires that a player make their own shelter, manage resources, and develop plans to stay safe from the changing landscapes, mobs, and other players. But it goes beyond this. My eight-year-old has begun to work with redstone dust, attempting to make elevators, automatic doors, traps, and items farms. Currently, her projects are small but as she develops these skills she will be able to make much more complex projects such as planes that can actually fly around the map, miners that can break many blocks at once, or when playing PVP a system that would allow her to be removed from danger and teleported to a safe location until she is ready to rejoin the fight.

The redstone workings are just one part of the problem solving as eventually, my kids may get into coding from playing Minecraft as well. The game allows for modifications to be added using JavaScript, which can be manipulated inside the running game (such as setting the time of day or creating an area that needs permissions) but also through the AppData folder which allows players to add their own additions to the game such as a mini-map, additional food or creatures, or even the ability to build and import new biomes.

Next, I would say that Minecraft encourages reading, writing, and research abilities. Besides the in-game chat feature that allows players to communicate with each other, there is no tutorial on how to play the game when you start it up. You are literally a man in a world that has to figure out everything on your own. Both of my children started playing the game in a creative setting, which allowed them to see what blocks were available and what they were called. From there we moved them over to survival and all those interesting blocks that they really liked they now had to find and craft. And searching online was a major way for them to do this as they needed to find the recipes and research where to find the items needed. They also search for tutorials on how to make certain builds as well.

Thirdly, I would say that Minecraft strengthens their math skills. They count how many blocks need to be placed for their buildings, split items up to share with others equally, pay for things with in-game currencies, create complex geometric shapes, use the time to help them know how much longer unitl night will fall, estimate the amount of space they will need to build their structure, etc.

And although I have never attempted to do so I could see Minecraft being a great learning platform to teach the history of architecture and server hosting.

All in all, Minecraft supports a curious mind and I will suggest it to anyone who is on the fence about allowing their children to play, or even play it themselves, It allows my children to be creative, be self-directed (as there is no end to the game), utilize teamwork and have fun.

Minecraft is all the best parts of Lego, made digital.

Published by Lady Bowering

Lady Bowering is a Canadian life form who finds amusement in making up stories to the actions that people and creatures around her display. In her spare time Lady Bowering can often be found with a cup of tea in hand or using her especially useful talent of napping. A self proclaimed digital-hippie, art lover and a recovering interobang addict she dreams of one day owning a business of her own; as long as she can survive the tickle attacks her family dares to inflict upon her!

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