A Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Minecraft Learning

moms guide to minecraftYour child is absorbed, consumed, obsessed with Minecraft. You’re worried. Are they spending too much time on this game? Are they getting anything useful or educational out of it, or are they just having a good time?

Whether your kids know it or not,

they are learning from Minecraft.

You can help expand their learning by getting to know the game (just a little, it won’t be painful) and understanding the creative, social and educational possibilities that Minecraft puts at their fingertips.

Where do you start? When you first look at the game, it looks confusing, dizzying even, as your child quickly navigates around their worlds, breaking things and building faster than you can focus your eyes. You smile and nod as they tell you with excitement how they built a secret passage way or defeated a ghast.

You smile and nod and tell them “that’s great”  because you want to encourage them, but you don’t have a cue what they are talking about. Or am I the only one?

This post will help you get familiar with the game and learn  the basic concepts and terms involved in playing. Follow  this series for the next ten days as we explore specific ways you to expand your child’s learning in science, writing, math and history and add a little Minecraft to your homeschool curriculum plan.

Expand Learning with Minecraft:

It’s simple. Get involved with what they are doing. Sit down next to your child and ask them to give you a tour of their world. Ask them what they are working on or what they plan on doing next. If you don’t understand what they are talking about, ask them to explain it!

Make real life comparisons to the game. For example, where would you find obsidian in real life? How would a weapon be forged? Is it the same as in the game or different? If they’re exploring a desert biome, pull up Google Earth (on a different device, of course!) and show them what the  Gobi Desert really looks like.

After watching the game for a little while, you’ll start to see ways to expand on what they are doing OR you’ll see ways to incorporate what they are learning in your current curriculum into the game. Do this by getting excited along with them and making suggestions, or brainstorming interesting project ideas together.

We’ll go more in depth on this as the week progresses. See the list of upcoming posts here.

Minecraft Terms You Should Know (so you don’t space out when the kids talk to you about their game):

  • Mods: a downloaded add-on that can be used to change elements or add new elements to a gamer’s world.  Note: Mods cannot be added to games played on the iPhone or iPad.
  • Villager: They can trade with players and are not hostile. They can also fall in love and have children. Not to worry mom, there’s no soap-opera drama here.
  • Endermen, Creepers, Zombies, Skeletons (and more): These creatures are part of the hostile mobs that can attack you, destroy your hard work, and make you want to cry.  Each one attacks/is defeated in different ways.
  • Skins: New looks for your avatar.
  • The Nether: a landscape in the game that is cave-like, covered in lava.
  • Biomes:  A climate that define the look and functionality of a place within the game. A player will encounter a wide variety within the game – such as the desert, jungle, ice plains, nether, ocean or underground. Each biome has unique features and specific items that can only be found there.
  • Mobs:  The mobs can be hostile, docile, neutral or allied. Docile mobs that are land based with flee when attacked (like cows, pigs, etc.) Hostile mobs  (creepers, cave spiders, etc) will attack for no reason.  A neutral / allied mob won’t attack (unless you attack first) and can sometimes be tamed (like the wolf) to fight your enemies with you.
  • The Ender Dragon: The dragon is the final battle of the game, found past the Nether at The End.

The Different Modes of Play in Minecraft

  • Creative Mode: In this mode, you can create your world, explore and enjoy building without the threat of zombies arriving. A player doesn’t need to be concerned about survival, finding food or building shelter. This is the mode I recommend for younger children or kids who are easily scared.
  • Survival Mode: this is the game mode in Minecraft (where most players play!). The focus is (obviously) survival and the player needs to build shelter, find food, fight enemies and collect rescoures that will help them survive long term. This mode can be played as a single or multi-player.
  • Hardcore Mode:  Similar to Survival mode, but more difficult. The main difference is that you have only 1 life, and your entire world will be deleted when you die.
  • Adventure Mode: This also adds a layer of difficulty to Survival mode. The key difference is that you cannot break blocks unless you have the right tool.

Is your head spinning yet? My more important question is – can you see where the learning could happen?

And if you would like to know what your kids are learning while playing (even when you are not getting involved) read What Are Your Kids Learning from Mindcraft?

Looking for more great ideas for your home and life? Check out the rest of the 10 Days Series on a variety of topics at the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch!

About Amy Landisman

Professional freelance writer. Homeschool mom of three girls. Introvert and rebel. Life learner. Coffee addict.

  • Linda

    Came by your blog by way of the Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop.
    Wow, great bunch of info on Minecraft! My daughter has been wanting to get involved in Minecraft and I keep putting her off because I haven’t gone out there and explored it yet. You have inspired me to go check it out. I love that it can be educational and fun at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

  • mail4rosey

    I haven’t ever played it, but it was fun reading about the positive attributes. Thank you for linking to Super Sunday Sync.

  • JamericanSpice

    This is very good. I think my son would like it too. He likes to explain his games to me and I try to remember and show genuine interests.

    He doesn’t have this one as yet though.

    Visiting from #SSShop

  • http://themommaknows.com/ Dawn @TheMommaKnows.com

    Our oldest son is 22 now and was chosen as an Alpha tester when Minecraft first launched…5 years ago. He later went into Beta testing and got one of the first Minecraft accounts (at half price!) when they were offered. He introduced our younger sons to Minecraft back when it was in Beta. I have only vaguely understood it, and am often surprised with the things the boys tell me about, that they learned in Minecraft. THANKYOU for this great post and the series. I just now found them but I’m going to read them all! :)

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  • Shelly

    I’m looking forward to this series! Two of my kids are on Minecraft pretty much the entire day (other than when we have our media free part of the day). I know they’re learning, but it’s nice to see exactly WHAT they’re learning.

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