Minecraft has pretty amazing potential as a teaching tool. In general, it promotes creativity and problem-solving as it boosts engagement. But it also can improve achievement when confident teachers incorporate it into instruction.
It’s easy for students to become absorbed in Minecraft worlds, mainly due to the game’s “sandbox” nature–it’s open-ended and offers unlimited possibilities for math, science, and building challenges.
And the game isn’t just for STEM classes, either. It can help build social and emotional skills, it can illustrate concepts found in literature and history classes, and more.
If you need inspiration, or just a little help getting started, you might find it in one of the following examples.
1. Minecraft has a fascinating link with social and emotional learning (SEL). A report based on interviews, a global survey, and case studies shows that 98 percent of teachers say problem solving is the top SEL skill their students learn from Minecraft. Students also develop creativity (86 percent), critical thinking (93 percent), and collaboration (91 percent). Half of teachers say they think it also helps students build empathy.
2. Gaming, including Minecraft, can be a powerful motivator to students, leading them to greater engagement and achievement. Students frequently walk away from homework when it is too difficult, but difficult games are another matter–kids walk away from games when they’re too easy. Difficult games present a positive challenge for students. A challenging task “stretches” a student’s brain, and the more a person expects his or her brain to do different things, the more pathways that person’s brain will develop.
3. We don’t necessarily think of Minecraft as a literary place, but that’s where many people are wrong. Students can use it to build worlds or landmarks from novels they read in class. Other teachers have students create journals in Minecraft and leave the journals in their class-created Minecraft world so other students can find the journals and react to different prompts or ideas.
4. Students can recreate historical buildings or places as part of a history project, and they also can download them and drop them into a world. With a little bit of creativity, classes can relive historical experiences–they can re-walk the Oregon Trail or land a ship in a new place and figure out how to govern a society. Minecraft characters can die temporarily and need food to survive, making the game a good way to navigate some of these challenges.
5. Minecraft’s math applications are endless. For instance, students can complete a Minecraft-inspired math project that is related to volume, area, and perimeter. Or, they can work on a multi-project STEM challenge and rotate around the classroom. If students don’t have access to the game in their classrooms, teachers can create paper-based challenges (check out the resources on Teachers Pay Teachers).
6. Computer science and coding skills are in high demand in today’s workforce, but qualified workers are hard to come by. Students can use their love of Minecraft to learn how to code and build strong programming skills.
7. Minecraft can bring the “A” to STEAM, too. Check out Tate Worlds: Minecraft Reimagined, which takes famous works of art and recreates them in the block-based world. Students can tap into their creative side while also planning and organizing an art project.
These are only a few examples of the many, many ways Minecraft can change teaching and learning. Check out Minecraft’s Education page for even more resources.