Kids’ Almanac: (June 27-July 4)

minecraft @“This player dreamed of sunlight and trees. Of fire and water. It dreamed it created. And it dreamed it destroyed. It dreamed it hunted, and was hunted. It dreamed of shelter.”
– Julian Gough



I’m a huge Minecraft advocate. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the video game Minecraft consists of “mining”: digging around various “worlds” for assorted blocks of elements, including diamonds (a valuable commodity); and “crafting,” which means making complex items with all of the blocks that you find. Our son loves Minecraft, and the more projects that I see him do there, the more excited I am for him that this exists. His intricate machinery creations, all constructed from basic elements, truly amaze me.

It’s an international hit, relatively inexpensive and a joy to foster and nurture in our family. I’m always excited to hear of other families who have kids who love Minecraft. Our son does all kinds of different activities, and Minecraft is just one of his passions.


Now that summer’s here, I hope those of you whose loved ones enjoy the game have the opportunity to see some of the amazing things that can be done in Minecraft. Here are seven ideas that I’d like to share with you:

1. Minecraft is an international sensation for a number of reasons. One of the greatest appeals of the game is its simplicity, enabling the players to use their imaginations to drive the game to any level of complexity that they desire. Unlike many other videogames, Minecraft is whatever the players want it to be, with no storytelling to follow, scripted characters or premade structures or scenarios. The players themselves create the worlds in which they wish to play, and players can switch to another world with ease. Players can choose Single or Multi-Player options, or Peaceful or Survival modes, depending on their preferences.

2. Minecraft has been called the equivalent of virtual Legos, and Lego aficionados appreciate the limitless blocks that players have to work with in Minecraft – as opposed to the finite supply of plastic bricks in most playrooms, due to space and budget constraints. Players on Minecraft are not bound by those parameters and can build any structure anywhere that they can conjure up. They don’t need that “one more piece” from an expensive set of components to complete a structure.

 3. There’s no intended gender in Minecraft. The creator, Markus “Notch” Persson, has gone on record to indicate that. It’s just you, your pickaxe and your world. The animals, enemy mobs and all of the other lifeforms on Minecraft are the same: gender-neutral. The visual for the first-person character is intended to be gender-neutral as well, and the users can change their character’s “skin” or “look” to represent themselves however they like.

4. Using redstone blocks involves learning complicated circuitry. Players experiment with timing and getting the right combination to launch a chain reaction and create different effects in whatever the machine is that they’ve dreamed up.

5. Communication skills can be part of the fun in Minecraft. Many people Skype while they play, offering the chance for real-time teamwork while playing against other groups, building structures and worlds together or strategizing against mobs such as Creepers or Spiders.

 6. Singing along to the clever parody Minecraft songs can be lots of fun during car rides. Minecraft parodies are based on current popular tunes or older music from decades ago.

 7. There are dozens of examples of Minecraft being used in schools to create and explore worlds, from civilizations studied in class to “What if?” scenarios for problem-solving, and countless other applications supported through resources such as Players can also develop different computer skills using codes and other aspects to create “mods” or “skins” that enhance their characters in the game.


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