If you have kids, there’s a high likelihood you’ve heard about Minecraft. And if your kids are already playing, they may regale you with tales of their gaming adventures and designs. As a busy parent, you may be tempted to roll your eyes, cut their screen time, or just flat-out change the subject. Before you dismiss Minecraft as a waste of time, you might be interested to know that there are a lot of educational benefits for kids who play. In fact, there are college classes using it as a tool, and hundreds of lesson plans available for elementary, middle, and high schools covering everything from programming to environmental impact to literature.
What is Minecraft?
In order to grasp the educational potential, you have to understand what Minecraft is: an open-ended sandbox world where players collect resources for building and survival. The game has two modes with no real end goals. In creative mode, kids are able to create freely without worrying much about anything else. In survival mode, they will need to concern themselves with food and shelter, as well as keeping a variety of enemies at bay. Either way, the worlds are meant to be shared. Children can work together or compete to find resources, build, and just survive.
Educational Benefits of Playing
On a surface level, much like other video games, there are definitely educational benefits for those who play. Research has shown that gaming helps with fine motor skills, decision-making, and in some cases, the ability to concentrate on specific tasks. Kids who play together will need to develop tools for communicating and collaborating. They will need to find ways to compromise and work as a team.
Minecraft also has other opportunities to learn that are specific to the game itself. Minecraft helps children develop their spatial reasoning skills in a 3D environment. They learn about gathering resources and saving them to create bigger and better things. They’ll have to prioritize. Do you eat the carrot now for energy, or save it to plant and grow more carrots?
They learn to design and plan ahead. They’ll apply strategy – how can they build a structure to keep Creepers (bad!) out? They’ll express themselves creatively as they design and build their own structures. They may even start to pick up programming skills that can lead to lucrative career options later in life.
Here at Club SciKidz Dallas, we offer a Beginner Minecraft Game Design summer camp, which will help your rising 1st-3rd graders go from dabbling to designing, whether they have experience or not. Each day is filled with lessons that have real-world applications. How do you plan for a large project? What materials do you need? What safeguards should be in place? How does the environment impact your design? Your children will be learning, all while having a great time. Not only that, but they’ll have the chance to meet other kids who have the same interests. You can be assured that they will have a great summer camp experience and learn something, too!