For some time now I have heard a lot about the educational benefits of playing “Minecraft” but I didn’t introduce it to G1 because I have also heard a lot about how addictive it is to play and I didn’t want him spending any more time on the iPad than he already was. I decided that I would hold back until he discovered it and decided that he wanted to play it himself. Well, he finally discovered it – through a friend at school so here we are…
Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.
It can also be about adventuring with friends or watching the sun rise over a blocky ocean. It’s pretty. Brave players battle terrible things in The Nether, which is more scary than pretty. You can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds more like your cup of tea.
Minecraft is available for:
- PC or MAC
- iOS – Pocket Edition
- Android – Pocket Edition
- Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
- X-Box One, X-Box 360
The Story of Minecraft
The origins of the game is actually pretty interesting. You can read about it or watch the video:
The Educational Benefits of Playing Minecraft
- Reading – there is a whole series of handbooks and online wikis that children will be inspired to read so they can take their gaming to the next level.
- Writing – within the game.
- Arithmetic – children are required to calculate their material requirements to construct their world.
- Geometry and Spatial Reasoning – as children build their worlds, they are creating a 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional screen. They need to orientate themselves as they create their structures.
- Music – the game contains “note blocks” that can teach children about notes, octaves and chords.
- Teamwork – children can interact with other players and work together to build, explore and learn. To provide a safe environment for children, parents can set up private servers so children can play cooperatively.
- Basic Technology Science – Redstone circuitry provides an interactive environment to build basic logic circuits and combine them for more sophisticated purposes. Feedback is immediate, and the mistakes don’t destroy expensive electrical components.
- Creativity – What could be more creative than building a world from your imagination?
- Basic Survival Skills – Children learn how to gather food and raw materials, build shelters and hideouts to stay safe from monsters, and they do this all in the safe environment of a game.
- Problem Solving Skills
A study on playing video games also showed the positive effects:
The Journal of Adolescent Research published a study comparing kids that played video games to those that didn’t. “Video game players, regardless of gender, reported higher levels of family closeness, activity involvement, attachment to school and positive mental health,” authors Paul J. C. Adachi and Teena Willoughby concluded. “Video game players also had less risky friendship networks and a more favorable self-concept.” – 2 Machines
More educational benefits:
- Transforming the Way We Learn: Why Minecraft is an Amazing Learning Tool
- Beyond ‘Screen Time:’ What Minecraft Teaches Kids
- What Minecraft Is Doing to Your Kids Is Kind of Surprising
- Top 10 Reasons to Love Minecraft
Incorporating Minecraft into a curriculum
If you want a structured curriculum, there are a range of resources for learning programming with Minecraft:
- For children ages 8-14
- It helps them learn Java programming by making their own Mods for Minecraft®
- It gives children foundation knowledge of object-oriented programming
- It includes 30+ hours of online & interactive videos, quizzes, badges, challenges, contests and bonus material
- It also comes with 1 year access to online course and teacher support; and
- It was the winner of the 2014 Top Homeschooling Curriculum Award
See also: More Youth Digital Programming Courses
There are also a series of guides and handbooks with helpful tips and information from the original creators and fans that will help you enrich your game play. The complete box set contains:
You can also follow these suggestions from other educators on how they have implemented Minecraft into their curriculum
- Learning Liftoff – English, Math, History, Science
- Edutopia – Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom
- Learning Starts – Geology, Plants and Animals, Engineering, Math
- Minecraft in Education – more online resources
If you are concerned about your child’s screen time, you can also take their obsession offline with these:
Create your off-line world with Minecraft origami…
If your child loves Lego as well, then Lego Minecraft is the perfect amalgamation…
There are a whole host of Minecraft stories that are available for young and old alike…
Love it or hate it, Minecraft offers some pretty amazing benefits for the children who play it. If they are already going to play with a screen, why not make it educational?