If you haven’t heard of Minecraft, then now’s as good a time as ever to check it out and while kids love it, there are tons of adults out there who love it too. There are 1000s of YouTube videos for newbies (and for those looking for inspiration and how to build certain things) and a lot of online support. Generally, once you get going, you get creative and have a little fun.
Minecraft is a game that resembles the playing of Lego and building with 3D blocks to create structures using one’s imagination. The application allows you to break blocks down and build weird and wonderful things.
The game is available on PC/Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, Windows 10, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Kindle Fire.
All-in-all, it’s fun and a creative game kids enjoy and love (and ADULTS love it too!). This game, in particular has, helped my eldest son learn to use the computer (mouse, keyboard, general PC functions) as well as convert ideas into a reality.
About Microsoft Hour of Code / Minecraft Hour of Code Designer
Microsoft (1) partnered with Code.org (2) to create a free Minecraft tutorial that uses Minecraft to teach the basics of computer programming and take Minecraft to a new level by getting kids involved in the world of programming. I have been a programmer for almost 20 years now, so naturally, this sort of thing would appeal to me to check out and I do think it’s a great concept.
If you and / or your kids don’t know much about programming, that’s not a problem at all. The Microsoft Hour of Code has been developed to introduce and teach its students the basic programming concepts which includes randomness, entities, sequencing, loops, and events to program the behaviour of Minecraft mobs (animals and enemies).
Once students have learnt the concepts, they will be able to and are encouraged to create their own game(s) that can be played on their phones and shared with fellow-Minecraft enthusiasts and friends.
It has been designed for anyone aged 6 and up and the introduction to coding (programming) is a fun, simple environment with video tutorials.
Example screenshot below:
Why Do Microsoft Hour of Code / Minecraft Hour of Code Designer
First off, it’s a FREE tutorial, so it really won’t cost you a cent and it is accessible via your computer’s internet browser as well as via your tablet or smartphone.
As mentioned above, I have been a programmer for many years, and based on my experience, I think teaching your kids a bit of computer science related principles can only do them good and no harm.
5 reasons I would be pro to teaching my kids to code would be that coding:
- Teaches logic and different ways of thinking
- Teaches learning – you always have to learn new things with programming
- Promotes the learning of different problem solving abilities
- Provides a different way to be creative
- Has an result which can be very rewarding to see in action
Please note: From a personal perspective, I would limit screen time based on the number of hours your kids are already in front of screens. I’m pro kids being active, playing outdoors, socialising with friends, experimenting and all that jazz, so I strongly suggest it’s a controlled screen time / regime.
- Microsoft wrote an article not so long ago about why everyone needs to learn to code – you can see it here: why Microsoft believes everyone should learn to code.
- Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Code.org’s vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. Code.org is the organizer of the annual Hour of Code campaign, which has engaged 10 percent of all K-12 students in the world, and the leading provider of curriculum for K-12 computer science in all of the largest school districts in the country.