Minecraft and Homeschooling ~ How We Incorporate Minecraft into our homeschool

Do your kids play Minecraft?

My kids love Minecraft. If they could play it all day they would. I almost thought I was going to loose my mind with how much they loved it. I was thinking it was getting in the way of their learning. I was so wrong. Now we use it as a tool for learning because it is so easy for them to say yes to Minecraft. It is a great place for kids to build, construct and use their imagination.

Once we let the kids spend time learning how to play Minecraft on the WiiU for what has been over a year now, we slowly started to learn how to play it on the computer, which for the most part was a huge learning curve for them, and me. Now they know how to do complex builds and create new worlds for different ideas with both WiiU and the computer versions. Watching other kids play Minecraft on Youtube has also been a huge educational aid for them in learning the game.

Now they will take their interests from other things, such as books we read or topics we are learning about and bring them into their Minecraft world.

With our Jolly Phonics Spelling, we have incorporated spelling and school into our Minecraft server world, where we ‘play school’ in the village and I play the teacher and place the words we will learn how to read and spell. We place signs on diamond walls. My daughter sees what I type and she types out each letter, sounds out each sound and reads back the word. It’s very exciting and fun.

I added more of a challenge for her with multiple chests, filled with various items from our inventory,  so when she finishes 3 words, she gets to choose a chest and go build something with only those items. It becomes a fun challenge for her and it keeps her wanting to spell more words. This also changes from day to day with her imagination coming to life. Sometimes we are in our original world with the school house or sometimes she is in a different world building a new school wall. She even built a spelling wall under water!

We also use Minecraft for simple counting math practice and my daughter enjoys building what we call a Minecraft Math Garden. She chooses a bunch of her favorite blocks and we count those blocks up to 20. We also take her math curriculum book, Math U See and each problem she does in the book, she counts them out in the Minecraft world.  Once she is done counting on the page and placing that many of whatever she wants down, she answers the question on the page. It really makes the math more exciting, and that’s what she likes.  I understand that other kids may be able to do this type of math work without such aids, but this is what works for my daughter.

A step by step guide for you to use Minecraft for teaching a spelling lesson with Jolly Phonics

  1. Get your curriculum on hand, along with stickers, pencils, flash cards and any other work sheets that you want the child to focus on at this sit down time.
  2. Create a new world in Creative. If you create it in survival, it is more of a challenge, but if they enjoy that then, by all means, go ahead and play in survival!
  3. If you are using a pre-existing map, find a village house and make it your school space.
  4. If you are using a basic world, find a place to build a house, and create a WALL out of any material you desire, such as Diamond, Wood, Stone, GlowStone, etc.
  5. In your inventory, find ‘Sign” and add it to you inventory
  6. Have your child choose a letter or word out of your flash cards, fan them out for them.
  7. Once they choose their letter or word, help them sound out each letter of the word, and then spell the word on a sign by typing it on the keyboard and place it on the wall.
  8. You can create chests with different items inside for them to do a challenge after spelling a certain amount of words.
  9. Keep the curriculum books on hand, and use Minecraft as a method for the practice. If you wish for them to hand write the word on paper, you can have them do that once the sign is placed on the wall.
  10. If you have another worksheet, such as a letter or word search you can encourcage this at any time throughout the lesson. With our Jolly Phonics, I have letters or word searches that I make up for them, using free coloring pages of all kinds. I write the letters all over the coloring image and they have to search for the letters as I pick them or after they type them and place the sign on the wall. They place a round glass stone on the letter, and I place a sticker next to it so we know it was done. Sometimes they just place the sticker on top of the letter as they find it. We also play games. I will place the letters or flash cards of the words they need to find on the paper around the room.
  11. Just go with it! let them use their imagination, let them play and learn at the same time and it doesn’t feel like such a chore.

I would recommend Minecraft to anyone who wants to allow their child to build, create and use their imagination! If your child likes computers, this is a great way to learn about them. I have also had to learn about the game myself, in order to help them with their learning so it does require some work on your part, but we find it is worth it.

I hope this helps anyone who has heard about this game and ever wondered about whether or not it would be ok to let their kids play it.

~Alexandra

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