Minecraft is a block-based game that, while simplistic in design, can actually be quite challenging and educational. In our homeschooling, we use Minecraft for a variety of lessons, because it is an activity that our children enjoy and can be worked into different subject areas. Here are seven ways that we use Minecraft when homeschooling, but there are probably many more that you could think of if you really wanted to connect it to learning.
Homeschooling Using Minecraft: 7 Ways to Use Minecraft for Homeschool
We take part in Minecraft Homeschool classes that focus on a specific historical time period. The out of game lessons are rich in historical background and give us a starting point for further exploration. With builds that need to be as historically accurate as possible, we have discovered that a great deal of independent research is done by the kids as they make sure that their Viking longboats or burial grounds are as accurate as they can make them. It is important to them to get it right. We tie the historical time period into lessons even further by introducing literature and readings from and about the specific events or subjects being studied.
2. Minerals and Ores
There is a lot of mining that takes place in Minecraft, so it is the perfect time to discuss minerals. Building a stone cutter and a furnace also open up conversations and learning about smelting and fossil fuels. It is rather surreal to hear your six year-old discussing smelting with complete understanding as to what it means!
What is the difference between deserts and tundra? What might you find in one area versus the other? Since Minecraft worlds can contain a variety of different biomes, it opens the door to learning about different biomes. We will often start new creative worlds using the Pocket Edition and spawn in from the iPad and iPhone to play together as we explore the landscape.
4. Creative Writing
Building a new world is fun, but creating a travel brochure about your Minecraft world makes the children stop and think about what they are building and why. They fine tune their world with an end brochure in mind. What will attract visitors to their world? What descriptive language can they use to entice vacationers to come? Not only are the creative components of the build important, but so too is the advertising brochure.
Let’s face it, sometimes being around siblings all day can be exhausting and can test even the strongest sibling bonds. For us, Minecraft is used to help strengthen the familial bond (we all play together) and encourage teamwork. The children learn how their actions can positively or negatively impact the world and they learn how important it is to work together. Teamwork is also a large part of the Minecraft Homeschool experience and we love that it is.
Since building in Minecraft consists of placing blocks, it is easy to work such concepts as perimeter, area, and volume into everyday builds. Sometimes the children are given specific requirements for a build (i.e. – a building with a certain perimeter, area, and/or volume) and other times they are tasked with building and then reporting the measurements. It is a great way to make those math concepts come to life and be much more concrete.
7. Character Building
If you have ever played Minecraft, you know that it takes time to build things that are aesthetically pleasing and, if you are playing in Survival mode, to gather up enough resources. There is very little instant gratification in the game. This is one of the key reasons why Minecraft works so well for our homeschool life. The children learn that, if they want to find diamonds or make glass, that they have to be patient and do the work to get them. They become persistent. Giving up does not even cross their minds, because they know that their hard work will pay off. When was the last time a math workbook taught a child that?
Minecraft may not work for every family, but it works for ours. If you use it with your children, share how you use it below. We would love to get more ideas for integrating it into other areas of course work.
Still not sure if Minecraft would make a good addition to your homeschool lifestyle? Leave a question below or post one to our Facebook wall. I would love to talk with you about how it has been beneficial to our family and how it could possibly work for yours. (You can also reach me on Twitter if you would prefer that!)