I wrote my post, What My Kids Are Learning While Playing Minecraft back in July 2012. I have observed since, that there has been a lot of talk about the benefits of the game and it’s ability to teach our kids real world skills. I’ve heard that even some classrooms are using it as a teaching tool.
Since writing my previous post, I have observed even more opportunities for my kids on Minecraft, especially with the addition of mods.
For instance, there is a Minecraft Mod called the Galacticraft mod. My youngest son is very interested in space, so this mod appealed to him on a grand scale. We got the mod and his interests soared even more. In this mod, you are able to build a space rocket, fuel it up and take off to the Minecraft Moon. You can’t forget your oxygen though. (You can’t breath on your own on the moon). When you land on the moon, you can walk there, leaving permanent footprints,( just like on the real moon.) You can also build, interact with the space creatures and return to earth.
Or, you can build a space station, where you can observe the earth and the moon, do “experiments” or just hang out with your friends in space . The makers of this mod are planning on adding other planets soon. More to explore and learn about!
There really is no end to the subject matter that can be explored on Minecraft. There is a mod on every subject you can imagine. The galacticraft mod got my son off and running, learning about space history, gravity, oxygen, physics and more. He even got a Neil Armstrong “skin” to use when he’s playing on this mod.
There are mods on mythology, forestry, medieval times, farming – Mods that experiment with the atmosphere, atoms, engineering and many, many more. Here’s a link to just a few of the mods available, all free, for Minecraft.
Often I hear parents asking, “How can I get my kids OFF of Minecraft?”
And I have to ask…
Why would you want to?
I can only suspect that these parents have either not played or not really engaged with their children while they are playing. Most kids are very excited to share with you what they are doing on there. If we are open to listening without judging the game as a “frivolous” activity, we will see that they are learning far more than we might suspect. And not only that, they are happy and functioning in creative and critical thinking, stretching their minds and enjoying it! What more could we want for our kids?
In my mind, Minecraft is not even a game. It’s a tool for engaging in subject matter that might not otherwise be available. It most definitely holds their attention and gives them the means to experiment with anything and everything they might be interested in. It also leads to fascinations of subject matter that they might not have otherwise been exposed to.
I’ve seen my kids much more open to looking at books on geology and space than they would have been without the game. They’ve also been more interested in visiting museums and other venues that relate to things they are working on in Minecraft. When they are playing with space on Minecraft, for instance, they want to know more. How does the rocket get enough power to get to the moon? Who was the first person on the moon? Why does the moon have less gravity than earth? And so on and so on. It never ends. And I’m glad for it.
These are the kind of questions I want my kids to be asking. I want them to walk into adulthood with questions about our world, with the ability to answer them with their own innovative thinking. Minecraft fosters this type of thinking. It creates a space for passion in subjects that might be boring in school. It encourages them to ask those questions and get creative about answering them.