Is your child SUPER into Minecraft? My children have been going through a bit of a phase where they live, breathe, and eat Minecraft (this phase being the last five years of their life). Or more, they play Minecraft, they watch Minecraft on Youtube, they read Minecraft books – both instructional “how to” books, and fictional stories based on the Minecraft world. And they talk about Minecraft. all. the time.
As a parent I’ve found Minecraft is actually a pretty good way to connect with my children, especially my tween (nine year old). I’ve embraced reading the Minecraft books to him as his bedtime story – even if I don’t entirely understand all of it. But one of our favourite activities is playing Minecraft together.
So this is intended as a very rough guide of how to play Minecraft with your children for parents who aren’t sure what that would even involve. And I guess how to keep it interesting and engaging for you. Honestly I can play Minecraft with my kids – taking turns between them – for hours. Which is a great way to fill in time, while spending time together, over the holidays.
Also, you’ll either need a console version of Minecraft or a PC edition on a server with two computers. Because the console Minecraft (Wii U, Switch, X-Box and Playstation etc) have split screen option so you can play together with two controllers. Alternatively – I actually have no idea how to actually set up two player on the PC. Your kid might know. Ask them. Sorry.
Hunt and Gather
If your child is playing in survival mode then they’re going to need resources. Anything from basic stone and wood to mining deep down in caves for redstone and diamonds. This is a time consuming aspect of the game. So it’s great to have two people working on gathering resources at once. Or you can do all the boring grunt work of bringing your child an endless supply of wood, stone etc for their creations.
I also find myself feeding my children on Minecraft. Yep. It’s just like the real world. I even watch their hunger bar on their screen and remind them they need to eat regularly. I then bring them food if they’re too busy to stop what they’re working on to come eat.
Explore The World
One of my jobs when we load up a new world is to fill in the map. Once we’ve sorted out our most basic needs to survive; shelter, weapons, some food, and beds, I take on the task of being the explorer. If you’re working on a finite map (rather than an infinite map where your world will just continuously generate forever, and honestly that concept terrifies me just as much as the idea of an infinite universe in the real world) it’s a good idea to have a stroll around your entire world to get a good feel for the place. This will also give you an idea of the kind of resources you have easily accessible and where to find them. For example deserts are a great place to get sand to make into glass for windows.
Also you can find interesting features in your world to explore later, like woodland mansions, jungle temples, desert temples and villages.
And then as a bonus activity – build your child roads and bridges so they can more easily find and access those resources you’ve so painstakingly found. I do this especially when my youngest child is playing in an infinite world so she can’t get lost in what is literally an infinitely generating landscape.
Another great way to play together is set up building challenges in creative mode. In creative mode you have practically every block and item in limitless supply, and the ability to quickly fly around. Which means you can make incredible builds, very fast. Start easy with a challenge to build a house in a set amount of time (30 minutes is a good. It goes surprisingly fast!) And then go from there. Your kid will probably have some great ideas to build on. Maybe one day you’ll be competitively building redstone machines. Who knows.
Back in survival mode there are some really fun challenges you can try, once you’ve got a bit of Minecraft world experience under your belt. One of our favourite challenges when we first load up a new world is being the first one to build a bed. Which means first building a hostile-mob-proof shelter, then collecting three wooden planks (any type of tree will do) and three blocks of wool. This can be surprisingly difficult, especially running around wildly trying to find sheep after sunset while also having to battle any number of hostile mobs.
Other challenges could be the first to cook a fish, first to tame a wolf, first to get to The Nether etc. Otherwise compete to find rare items like a diamond, pumpkin or a slime ball.
Whatever your kid wants you to do
Honestly, even after years of playing Minecraft I’m sure the average tween who’s interested in the game knows more about it than I could even image learning in my lifetime. So just ask them. And you might be surprised how fun it is. If not, just taking an interest in something they’re interested in can mean a lot to your kid. Set a timer and just commit to playing with them for half an hour or an hour and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.