When playing Minecraft, it is very easy for your kids to sink hours upon hours of their free time into its blocky world; whether they are creating a small farming homestead in survival mode or planning out and building the biggest fantasy castle they can.
While this may seem like a waste of time to some parents, some have realised that this fun game is a great way to encourage kids to learn how to code while not making it actually feel like valuable and educational work.
But how does Minecraft teach coding?
In this short guide we’re going answer those questions and more, plus give parents a little more insight into how Minecraft coding could offer future career potential for kids.
How does Minecraft help with coding?
Minecraft uses a simplistic 1×1 block structure to makes up the worlds and objects. It’s very easy to translate these into a programming language made up of 1’s and 0’s that dictate what the program does and how it runs.
This binary language can then be communicated to the computer through lines of coding. Understanding the basics of coding is an incredibly useful skill to have (here’s why).
Handy Hint: If your child is interested in exploring a career working with computers, video games or other programming-relating fields, a summmer coding course can offer a great introduction.
There’s no doubt that coding and tech knowledge can help with children’s future career prospects. Aside from that though, coding can also help with the “now” of education; it’s a highly applicable skill that helps creativity, logic, problem solving and mathematics.
Is Minecraft a good coding introduction for kids?
The real key to teaching a child coding is finding the right motivation. Minecraft offers that as it combines a fun game they love, with a gentle introduction to coding functionality.
The way Minecraft engrosses kids can be used to help engage them to learn about something useful in a fun way that doesn’t feel like work.
Minecraft can be enhanced by modifications (or ‘mods’) that are outside strings of code that changes the game from the inside, such as generating monsters, giving players increased health or items and even telling the non-playable characters to do specific things.
These mods are usually downloaded through a third-party website, with players sharing their own mods among the online community for everyone to use, but you can easily create your own mods to enhance your own gaming experience exactly how you want it.
Because of the relative simplicity of Minecraft as a game, learning how to modify it is a good steppingstone to learning to manipulate and create code for other games and programs.
Is Minecraft coding easy for kids to understand?
Coding languages often involve a lot of strings of words, numbers and letters, meaning that more complex coding involves a lot of typing. This can often seem daunting to children and to people who aren’t very confident with typing very quickly.
However, programs such as Minecraft: Education Edition offers a far more visual and less wordy way of learning to code as a beginner by using visual block coding. This involves individual blocks of pre-written code that can be dragged and dropped into the script, just like a puzzle piece.
These pre-written sections of code slot together to create fully working scripts, meaning that you don’t have to worry about misspelling or mistyping the wrong code and not having your program work when you want it to.
This visual programming can then be used as a stepping stone to having you write out your own simple strings of code, which will soon become longer and longer and more complex as you grow more confident in your ability.
Additionally, Minecraft allows for coding to be implemented immediately so you can see exactly what you are doing to the game in real-time. This is far more useful than other games, which you would have to continually close and reopen repeatedly every time you made a change just to see the results.
Minecraft: Education Edition allows for the program and the game to be run simultaneously within the same program, allowing for players to hop between playing the game and coding a new modification very quickly.
What coding language does Minecraft use?
There are hundreds of different coding languages that you can learn, with each code differing in terms of their complexity and what they were created in order to do.
For example, we’ve previously blogged about the 4 best coding languages that are suitable for kids – these are fantastic ones to start off with in addition to the coding aspects of Minecraft.
Certain coding languages are developed to suit certain jobs: for instance, some languages are better for building websites, while others are better for computers designed to perform mathematical calculations or operating real-life machinery.
The coding language that Minecraft uses is Java. This might be a familiar name to you if you use a computer a lot. That is the program which has the steaming coffee cup as a logo and that occasionally asks you for permission in order to install an update. This is because a lot of programs on your computer use Java in order to run, sometimes in conjunction with other languages.
Java is one of the more straightforward programming languages, meaning that is it often one of the first that people learn. More complex programming languages can be very easy to get wrong, which can be frustrating when trying to learn to execute simple tasks and can discourage you from persevering.
All programming languages can be tricky to learn but, as with any language, learning it when you are still in school is a good way of cementing the basics into your mind.
This is why people are trying to engage children with learning it early on in their education and using programs such as Minecraft as a gateway to more complex programs and getting children interested in computers and programming through things they love.
What is Minecraft Education Edition?
Minecraft Education Edition is somewhat different to the basic game of Minecraft, developed especially to be used in an educational environment such as a school.
Created by Minecraft developers Mojang, Education Edition has features and controls that are not featured within the normal game, with blocks specifically designed for coding and communication.
Being constantly updated, this version of the game involves tutorials and basic instructions that allows for both children and adult beginners to coding to modify their own games in Minecraft.
Featuring a Code Builder, you can have Minecraft open in one app and code for it in the other, allowing you to see the changes to the game in real-time.
What is different about the Minecraft Education Edition?
Minecraft Education Edition is different to both the base game of Minecraft and other Minecraft education software’s because it is officially developed by Mojang specifically for use within a classroom or otherwise educational setting.
This version of the game allows up to 30 people to play in the same game, without any servers needing to be set up. The creator of the game, such as a teacher, can fully control which blocks are available to other players and where they can and cannot place them, meaning that no one can build with different blocks before they are permitted to.
You can also limit the players to staying in one specific area of the map, which means that you don’t have to stop the class in order to fetch back wandering children.
Lesson plans are also available to be downloaded, with different ones available depending on the age range of the class and what subjects you wish to teach (including art, history and coding).
Lesson plans that you have created yourself can also be uploaded for other teachers to see and use.
Can I download Minecraft Education Edition at home?
Unfortunately, Minecraft Education Edition is only officially available to purchase by schools, libraries, museums and those who are participating in recognised home-schooling organisations.
There are certain qualifications that must be met before an institution is able to purchase the education edition, including that eligible institutions:
- Must be a full or part-time staff member at an academic institution
- Requires a school-specific email address in order to sign up
- Must be an officially recognised free public library or museum with an official education program.
- Must be a home school that provides K-12 education, with written proof of belonging to a nationally recognised home-schooling program or is recognised by the local district as an acceptable alternative.
What you can do though, is take advantage of one of FunTech’s Minecraft summer courses. We currently have 2 available running at locations in and around the London area, plus Chester, Maidenhead, Reading, and Tonbridge. You can explore those below:LEARN MORE LEARN MORE
In today’s digital age, coding is more popular than ever. It’s a highly applicable skill that can be used both creatively and in terms of a future career. From creating websites to fully functioning video games, coding is the building blocks of technology; including this very webpage and the computer, device or phone that you are accessing it on.
Minecraft is an excellent introduction to coding and is a great way you can encourage your child’s interest in the topic. We believe it could set your child up for life in terms of a career choice, so please take a look at our latest courses and locations.