Your ASD kid won’t stop playing Minecraft and you’re getting desperate because you need him to do something that resembles schoolwork for the home education unit. Here is how you can turn the narrow and obsessive focus on this interest in Minecraft to educational advantage…
- If you have 2 or more computers, set up your own Minecraft server and join in on the action. The interaction and shared experience will let you engage with your kid in a way that helps fan the fires of their interest (which is working with their internal motivation).
- If using worksheets or printables – make sure they are Minecraft themed or make your own. Find a way you can link the worksheet to something in the game.
- Record keeping – take copious screenshots, child keeps a Minecraft journal where screenshots can be pasted into it and notes/comments/observations made ( use paper, electronic document, blog, Facebook etc), parent keeps observation notes of activities with ideas for improvement etc, make rubrics to assess projects
Language for interaction using the context of Minecraft culture – talking to each other using Minecraft terms. Type in the ingame chat with basic greetings if child still learning to read and type. Read out your words to them and show them how to type simple responses. Use signposts in the game to communicate eg. My Castle. KEEP OUT! This also addresses phonics and word knowledge.
Text structure and organisation – Use capital letters for proper nouns. Signpost place names, peoples names on their belongings, and for labelling other objects.
Expressing and developing ideas – Discuss verbally plans for Minecraft goals or adventures using compound sentences. Use signpost labelling in the game to talk about common, proper and pronouns. Read Minecraft comics and talk about actions, reactions, thoughts. Make lists ingame using books, signposts or write paper or electronic lists for Minecraft plans.
Literature – explaining, responding to and creating literature – Read Minecraft comics, graphic novels and short stories. Watch youtube videos of minecraft. Discuss them. Ask questions about what was read. Tell your kid a short Minecraft story. Get them to tell you one. Transcribe their story for them put a few screenshots with it. Theres a Microsoft office and google docs addon which will read aloud what text is in the document. Get your kid to listen to the story retold. Expect very basic stuff at first.
*With ASD kids their stories are often about real Minecraft experiences they have had. Encourage them to talk about their Minecraft experiences if reluctant to make up or tell a story. Character names can be substituted in later.
Reading and discussion – look up Minecraft websites and blogs. Youtube has heaps of videos discussing Minecraft. Use google to find craft and food recipes etc. Use a browser addon to verbally read out website text. Buy Minecraft Guides, any book you see that is about Minecraft!
Numbers, addition, subtraction, basic problem solving, multiplication, length area, volume, perimeter are all covered in the natural use of Minecraft on Survival Mode. Just building houses etc kids will be exposed to maths and numbers. You don’t have to “teach” or say anything about it. They will eventually be thinking things like “How many more stone blocks do I need before I max the stack out to 64?” And “I have 10 wood blocks already, if I chop one more tree down I will have 5 more and that is the 15 I need for my crafting”, etc. You can encourage more structure with this with instructions typed ingame eg. “Build a wall that is 3 stone blocks high and 3 stone blocks across and then tell me how many stone blocks we need to go and mine to build 3 more walls”.
Watch youtube videos of Minecraft that touch on math concepts.
Show them how to make basic addition and subtraction calculations on paper (this is the ones column, this is the tens column) and show them ones and tens in-game using blocks like you would with Cuisinaire Rods.
Money and change – start up a Minecraft shop as a project. Sell items from the shop in exchange for gold bars or iron bars! Use signs to label prices and specials. You can also make a key stating that so and so ore or bar is equivalent to 1 dollar, 50 cents and so on.
Patterns – use different coloured blocks to experiment with patterns or wall / pavement designs.
Geometry, area, volume, shapes – build 3D shapes ingame. Draw 2D shapes on paper, label them and identify them in the faces/sides of the 3D shapes made in Minecraft.
With things like telling the time and calendars (months, days of week etc), you can get your child to look at the computer date/time and put up a sign upon first entering Minecraft that states the day of the week and the time. Take a screenshot and print it out for the bedroom wall.
Biology – living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves. Become a farmer in Minecraft – breed and raise animals.
Chemistry – combine different elements to make new items that serve a purpose – make Minecraft potions.
Earth/space – Use the resources that are available in that particular Minecraft area like we do in real life. Travel to other locations to get other resources.
Nature/Development of Science – make observations eg “My wheat grows faster if I place torches around it.” Ask questions “Why does my wheat grow faster – is it because plants stop growing during night time?” “Do plants need light to grow?” Describe changes. “My wheat changes colour when it is ready to be picked”. Make predictions “Wheat will grow in dark caves if I provide a light supply”. Test out predictions.
Technology – keyboarding skills developed by playing Minecraft. Internet search skills developed by searching for information on Minecraft. Learning new programs – check out Novaskin’s Minecraft Skin generator to make your own Minecraft characters. Check out Comic Life to make your own Minecraft comics. Use youtube. Learn how to take awesome screenshots with Minecraft.
Problem solving – Survive the First Night! On survival mode 🙂 Identify and list what is required to survive the first night.
Make an art gallery in Minecraft to display different items, (like flowers, weapons etc) artistically.
Decorate buildings to make them more homely, or to suit individual tastes in decor. Play around with drawing blocky Minecraft characters on paper. Print out Minecraft craftables / art projects.
There are some ASD Minecraft servers out there with “social” rules for playing Minecraft (http://www.autcraft.com/ – their rules are awesome, they obviously know ASD kids well!!!!!!!!!!) Make own rules (and penalties) for home server.
Keyboarding is a vital life skill in today’s advancing society – probably more important than handwriting in many areas. Chat via in-game chat and typing.
Paying attention to surrounds – and getting back “home” without getting forever lost. Problem solving how you can help yourself find your way home easily – with markers, torches, pillars of stone, making arrows from coloured blocks, using signposts, using maps and compasses.