The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.
While screen time can be a challenge for parents in this day and age, there are ways to use it to your advantage and the advantage of your children. One of those opportunities comes in the still wildly popular game, Minecraft.
If you are unfamiliar, Minecraft is a fun game about placing blocks (sort of like traditonal building blocks, but interactive and digital) and going on adventures. Players can explore randomly generated worlds and amazing tutorial & sample themed worlds (seriously, have a look at them!). Best of all game play is easily tailored to any level of skill; build amazing things from the most modest of homes to the grandest of castles.
Run a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll find a slew of articles with tips on how to use Minecraft for educational purposes – both academically and for life in general (I even have a free birthday printable I made a while back!).
In my own experience, I’ve seen my children create imaginative and expansive communities with detailed storylines and fairly complex economies through systems of trade — both with themselves through “stores” and through trading the goods (that they’ve grown, mined, or hunted) with the game’s villagers. They learn that work is required to gain the items that they desire, and it’s no small task. It takes time, a great deal of patience, and even collaboration for them to mine the supplies they need to create the items they want to thrive in the game. I’ve even seen their math skills strengthened simply by playing.
Updates Provide New Opportunities
The game is always evolving with fairly regular updates, giving new items and experiences to look forward to and learn from. Minecraft has two main game modes: Creative,which allows for unlimited resources, and Survival, for more challenging play that depends on mining and crafting to build, create, and defend. My children love Creative, while I find myself drawn to the challenge of Survival mode. Oh yes, I play with the kids! I find that it’s a fun way to engage with them in their world and just ‘be’ with them for a bit. The game is extremely family-friendly, though I won’t deny that it might take a little time to get the hang of it for those of us who may be out of practice.
Creativity Beyond the Game
One of the best things about the game is how it engages my children positively beyond screens as well. The toys and collectibles make great gifts for anyone already into the game and allows kids to take the worlds and stories they’ve created out of the screen and to more tangible play, which meets other needs for them creatively and developmentally.
While I don’t always love plastic toys, I do make exceptions when they provide quality play – and it’s a major bonus when they can be handed down when they are done. We have several sets of the Lego Minecraft sets and have begun to collect the Minecraft mini figures, and thankfully you can get a storage case to keep them organized — which may just be under our tree this year.
Time is running down the wire for gifts this year, so if you’re looking for a last minute idea that will be sure to land you a hug or two, Best Buy offers a wide range of Minecraft products that you can go pick up right now. From the game itself (there is even an Xbox One S console bundle that is currently on sale!) to the companion toys and collectibles mentioned above. Several are even in the stocking stuffer range – which I still need to run out to get, because procrastination. If you’ve been on the fence (I was there once, too) you might just want to give this one a try. My once anti-device self is not sorry that she did!