So, Minecraft!! Have you heard of it? Do your children constantly talk about it? Are you a bit confused by what all the fuss is about? If you aren’t interested in computer games and don’t have people in your household who are, it might all seem a bit baffling. But I find it useful to know what the children are playing with and talking about as it is a great way to engage and motivate. So today I am here to tell you a bit about it and give you some ideas about how to incorporate it in your therapy!
Minecraft has been around for over 6 years and is now available on all consoles, computers, iPads, tablets, phones – you can get Minecraft on everything! It is also relatively cheap, as games go. The combined effect means that most children have played it. There are also a number of Youtube channels devoted to showing videos of people playing it. If you want to sound like you know what you are talking about, mention ‘Stampy’, ‘Ballistic squid’ or ‘The diamond minecart’! (These are more UK based – I’m sure there are equivalents in other countries)
Minecraft is an open ended game with no specific goals, meaning that you can choose what you do and for how long. The game is based around placing and breaking blocks! Doesn’t that sound fascinating?! It always reminds me of Lego. You can build houses or castles, have gardens with trees and flowers or tame wolves so they become pet dogs. There are also lots of different materials; wood, planks, ore, metals, gems. Different elements need different tools to collect them. There are also different biomes or areas, so you have swamp, desert, forest etc.
So why do you want to know about it and how can you use it in therapy?
– Engaging and motivating: I have found it really useful to be able to talk about Minecraft with the children I work with. I love the reactions I get when they realise I understand. The best being one young man, completely aghast saying “You…… play Minecraft??!” We then had a great conversation and he worked really hard. We had made a connection. On another occasion I had been asked to assess a young man who was showing some signs of Pathological Demand Avoidance. He had not spoken to the last professional who had tried to assess him. I saw that he had a Minecraft reward chart and commented that the picture looked like an obsidian portal to the nether. After that he was happy to talk to me and completed the assessment. So don’t underestimate the power of making that connection!
– Science: Although at a simplified level, the rules of the Minecraft world do follow the rules in the real world. You have to mine coal and put it in a furnace to make charcoal. You have to mine iron ore and combine it with coal in the furnace to make iron. You have to dig up sand and can combine with coal to make glass. Equally you get wheat seeds, plant them and water them and then after a few days you can gather the wheat and make bread. The animals also reproduce, by kissing and have babies – but that might be best left alone! You could easily work this into a lesson plan or use it as a discussion point.
– Phonology/ Speech: There are some great tricky words with lots of syllables and blends in. You have Creepers, obsidian, mushrooms, Steve (the main character) herobrian (a legend), Ghasts – the list goes on.
– Vocabulary Development: The Minecraft world is massive and there is a fantastic range of vocabulary you could target. At the easier end you have dog, grass and tree, but at the harder end you have tricky words like hostile and aggressive to describe the baddies/mobs. Also all the different biomes and elements.
– Adjectives: If you can find some pictures of the characters or the world in general, you could name the items and then try and generate appropriate adjectives. Is Steve brave? Are the chickens clucky? Is the creeper frightening?
– Following directions: If you are feeling brave and want to let the children actually use the game in therapy, you could give them specific instructions to follow. For example “Build a tower of wood three blocks high” or “Put a block under the tree”. You could easily work in an instruction at the appropriate level.
I have also found this great post from Miss Melissa’s Speech Blog, that talks about using the faces in Minecraft for working on emotions.
I highly recommend finding out a bit more about it and trying to use it in therapy. A quick easy way is to watch some of the Youtube videos. Give it a go and let me know how it goes!! Good Luck.