Minecraft - tips for playing with young elementary, rules; hindsight
November 10, 2017 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I once played Minecraft, but it's been about 5 years.. and now I have an interested kindergartner. I know there's some of you who have played this with your elementary kids... tips, rules you go by?

Currently I have been showing him my old worlds (off-line in a single player world). We have only played twice, and right now I'm still explaining the basics to him (how to make a stick, not to dig straight down) and we are in PEACEFUL mode (I have never played in the other mode so while I've built a powered cart/tracks I don't understand the fighting side of the game).

He's almost 6, but still a kindergartner, so I anticipate him just playing alongside me (as a treat for decent behavior) for at least this school year.

And finally -- Alternatives to the game if in hindsight you'd do something else? Another better game to get him interested? (One benefit of Minecraft is I understand how it works (not a gamer, generally) but I'm open to ideas. Current interests are Legos, stories, ninjas, transformers, Wild Kratts and somewhat interested in marble runs.
posted by typecloud to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
My kid is approx the same age and interested in similar stuff, and we recently played through Tearaway: Unfolded on the PS4 together. It's a third-person adventure/platformer game set in a beautifully designed papercraft world. My kid was able to navigate the character around and got the hang of platforming and the easier combat, and handed over to me to do the trickier parts. The game is extremely forgiving - if you die you just respawn nearby (there's no lives/checkpoints) - so is good for a young kid.
What's nice about the game is you unlock actual papercraft designs for the papercraft characters & objects in the game, so you can print them out and make them in real life (although they are fairly tricky for a 5/6yo, the kid can still get involved by colouring them in).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:58 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


My 8yr old has been video game obsessed since he was five - I started him out on Kirby's Epic Yarn and Mario, then Minecraft more recently. Because his brothers are younger, I request that he stays in Creative mode when they're watching him play (to avoid the big spiders and mild violence in the game).

My 5yr old is Minecraft obsessed but doesn't play it himself - he asks his brother to play it so he can watch. He's requested a console for Christmas so he can play it on his own, but I'm most likely going to buy the PC version and let him play it on an old laptop, if I can figure out the controls myself to show him how to play. My two youngest are getting into circuits and building, and I'm considering building a RaspberryPi box with them for Minecraft play.

We are also big into Lego right now.
posted by annathea at 8:07 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


My 11 year old says if your son likes Legos and ninjas he would probably like the Lego Ninjago game.

In Minecraft, my son suggests introducing him to simple farming (with a hoe and some wheat seeds) and if he doesn't like that he suggests simple redstone and TNT stuff. He offered this tip: When TNT is underwater, it will damage you and animals when it explodes but it won't destroy any blocks.
posted by Redstart at 10:40 AM on November 10


I started playing a few years ago with my then-9-year-old niece. These days, we're playing on a Realms server in Survival mode (we live in different states), but we also spent a lot of time sitting together while she played or watched me. Even at nine, it was hard - there's a lot of eye-hand coordination required just to walk around a 1st person, 3D world, much less build or fight.

That said, we did stuff that'd I think would work with a kindergartener:

Plan buildings or adventures together - he wants to watch you fight a spider, build a ridiculous tower, dig a giant pit and fill it with water, chase sheep across a pasture, ride a horse, pour lava down a hillside? Great - ask his opinions about how you should do it, even if you know it'll end in death, a burning forest, or a living in a house with no doors.

Let him explore areas or worlds you've created just for him, and encourage him to build things for you. My niece invented little narratives and stories for the things she was building - a guest room for me to stay in when I visited her house, a gift box for the presents she got or made for me, signs to tell me hi, or that no trespassers were allowed, or that the rate at her hotel was a chunk of iron per day. It was fun to find little messages/gifts from her and surprise her with unexpected treasures, machines, animals, and buildings.

Early on, she just wanted to help me with whatever I was doing - so I'd find small parts of big projects that she could handle: here's an axe, go cut down those trees. Here's a stack of carpet, go cover up all the stone in the room. Here's a bunch of fence and gates, go make a pasture for our cows. I'd ask her opinion on specific things: How tall should this wall be? What color should we dye these sheep? Do you want roses or lilacs? Where should we put the trapdoor?

If you can both play at the same time in the same world, make up games or challenges. My niece and I have a fairly developed world now: lighthouses, castles, towers, farms, monuments, pyramids, docks, cabins, lakes of lava ... so we play hide-and-seek, giving each other hints: "deep underground", "near a wall of stained glass", "by the treehouse", "I can hear chickens".... We have snowball fights or egg fights, play tag, race mine carts, drink invisibility potions and see who can make silly outfits (she's fond of cruising around invisible but for a pumpkin head and boots).

Part of what has made Minecraft fun with my niece (and has made it work well for years) is that I spent time reinforcing some simple rules and cultural norms, since we share our world with each other and a few other family members. Everybody has "their area" - explore what they've built, but close doors and gates behind you so the creepers don't get in. If you broke something (burned down a building, washed away a redstone machine or farm with a misplaced bucket of water, accidentally released the llamas), fix it or tell them so they can fix it. Show people what you've built so they can enjoy it, too. Share your suggestions. Build things together, with their input, if it's next to (or above, or under) things they care about. If you have an excess of something, share it.
posted by verschollen at 2:32 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]


You don't mention what platform you will be playing on, but both of my kids (now 9 and 6) started playing Minecraft around age 5, and the key for them to be really independent participants has been the iOS app. They both play on iPads, and the touch interface is so much more intuitive for small hands/young brains than indirect manipulation through keyboard/mouse or a game controller. I don't know if that is an option for your circumstance, but something to consider.
posted by misterbrandt at 2:47 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Thanks, great things to consider. It's currently a very old version on my old laptop so trying to catch up and figure out the best setup. May need to talk to the cousins a few states away and see if they would be interested in sharing a world.
posted by typecloud at 5:23 AM on November 11


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