Sunday, 2 March 2014

Minecraft for beginners

Name: Minecraft
Format: Mac and PC, X-Box, Playstation and both iOS (pocket edition) & Android tablets (pocket edition)
Publisher: mojang
minecraft app.jpgPrice in AUD (at time of review): There is a trial version for free on Mac and PC - you buy this from the website
Minecraft: Pocket Edition is free on iOS and Android tablets, this does not save progress though. 
The paid version is roughly AU$30, as a one off payment. At the moment, you will need to purchase Minecraft either on the computer or iPad/device or X-box (online purchase or disc), as the one account wont transfer between the different interfaces. There is an option to share accounts between devices, over a network-  so a friend visiting us can play in LT’s minecraft world on their own device, LT and friend can explore and build together in this world. In a few months, ‘minecraft realms’ will be available, and enable use of one account across these interfaces.
In app purchases enabled? Full content unlocked with subscription- there are no in app/game purchases.
Age suitable for: primary school to adult
How can it support learning? Minecraft is used in many schools as an environment for students to build and explore. It is referred to as a ‘sandbox’ as you can use this as a creative tool. If you think of it as ‘virtual lego’ it helps :)
Curriculum links? This can conceivably span any number of curriculum areas - it is up to the students and teachers to link this to learning.

Fiona and LT’s Review

If you and your kids are starting out in minecraft here are a few things to help you.

1. When joining and creating an account, make sure you use a pseudonym/screen name for your child - don’t identify your child by their real full name or location. It is a good idea to link the account to your email, so you can track passwords etc.

2. Start your child in ‘peaceful’ mode, this means you have no hunger, no monsters, and 10 minute days to build shelter and explore. The first thing you want to do is build a shelter - Build a bed and sleep ‘instantly’ through the 10 minute night. Be careful digging down- you may hit lava! Creative mode also allows free play in this timed environment - but gives you access to a full inventory without you having to ‘mine’ and ‘craft’ everything from scratch (it is my preferred mode).
Don’t look for help files- go to youtube and watch some instructional videos with your child to get to know what you can do. Here is one LT recommends:

When starting to mine, you will be able to obtain the following ores: Coal, Iron (needs to be mined with a stone pick), Gold (need iron pick), Diamond  (need iron pick), Emerald (unknown pick) And nether quartz  found in the nether and can be mined with a wood pick. You will need to craft the different picks.

There are also wiki’s and forums and lots of great you-tubes that show people playing minecraft-  the best way to learn about this game is to play it.

3. As your child gains confidence in this space, they may want to venture into survival mode or onto the servers and build and play mini-games with others. Survival mode includes monsters that come out at night, and can ‘kill’ you-  it’s ok, you will re-spawn to play again( LT: ‘except in hard core, you will have to delete the world and start again’). We sit with LT and play these games alongside him- it is a great opportunity to support him in ‘cyber safety’ and work out for ourselves which games and spaces he visit safely by himself, and the ones we need to be there for. Many games (quakecraft on hypixel- for example) have very short opportunities for ‘free chat’ which means most of the time in the game is running around and playing each other - so there is little opportunity for cyberbullying.

4. As you and your child explore minecraft and watch you-tubes on this you will see the multiple opportunities for building, free play, programming and coding. As your child’s confidence grows they will be able to build almost anything! Have a look at the calculators built on minecraft: 
or the story of the titanic made and filmed in minecraft:

5. There is a lot of learning fun to be had on minecraft - and the only limit is your child's imagination. Here is a screen shot from a world LT created.

Rating (out of 5) -  Five stars - we love it.

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