So earlier today Thayer asked if I had any suggestions for things to do in Minecraft for younger kids. I thought I might as well write this up as a blog post rather than a long email, then everyone else can add their suggestions too.
Of course, the first thing I did was turn to the experts: my kids. Both my son and daughter have been addicted to Minecraft for some time now. We run our own home server and this gets visits from my son’s friends too. They also play on-line, but having a local server gives us a nice safe environment where we can play with the latest plugins and releases.
So most of the list below was suggested by the kids. I’ve just written it up and added in the links. We’ve assumed that Thayer and Nemi (and you) are playing on the “vanilla” (i.e. out of the box, un-patched) PC version of Minecraft. The browser, XBox, mobile and the Raspberry Pi versions lag behind a little bit so not all of these activities or options might be available.
There’s also a lot more fun to be had exploring many of the amazing mods, maps and mod-packs (bundled packages of mods) that the Minecraft community has shared. The kids are currently obsessed with the Voids Wrath mod pack which has some excellent RPG features. But we decided to focus on the vanilla experience first.
There are lots of ways to play Minecraft. You can opt to build things, undertake survival challenges, explore above and below ground, and push the limits of its sandbox environment in lots of different ways.
But for younger kids we thought it would be best to play on Creative and Peaceful mode. Creative mode removes the survival challenge aspects, allowing you to focus on building and exploration. In Creative mode you have instant access to every block, tool, weapon, etc. in the game. So you can cut to the chase and start building, rather than undertaking a lot of mining and exploring at the start. Peaceful mode disables all of the naturally spawning enemies, meaning you don’t have to worry about being killed by skeletons, exploded by creepers or going hungry whilst travelling.
The Creative mode inventory system can be a little daunting: there are a lot of different blocks in the game. But if you use the compass to activate the search, you can quickly find what you’re looking for. The list of blocks is on the wiki, so that can also be a handy reference.
Build a House
Building a house is obviously the first place to start. Building and decorating a house gives you a base of operations for all your other activities.
There are lots of material to choose from, including varieties of stone, wood, and even glass. Use different coloured wools to make carpets, and then add book shelves, paintings, beds (right click to sleep in it), a jukebox, and lots of other types of furniture.
The minecraft wiki has a good starting reference for building types of shelter
Become a farmer
Once you’ve built a house, you can next turn your hand to a spot of gardening and become a farmer.
Using a hoe, some water, some earth and the right kinds of seeds you can grow all kinds of things, including Wheat, Carrots, Cacti, Melons and even mushrooms. You can even grow giant mushrooms for that fairy tale feel.
You can use a bucket to carry water around to water your garden or to create a pool.
Build a Zoo
You’re not limited to plants. Minecraft has a lot of different types of animals, including pigs, sheep, cows, wolves and ocelots(?!). In Minecraft every animal can be hatched from an egg (unless you breed them).
In Creative mode you have access to Spawn Eggs which you can use to spawn animals. So build you zoo enclosures and then fill them with whatever animals you like.
Tame animals for Pets
Wolves and ocelots can be tamed to make pets. You can do this if you discover them in the wild or just try taming some animals from your zoo. Feed a wolf a bone and it’ll be come a pet dog. If you want a pet cat, then you’ll want to tame an ocelot with some raw fish. Pets will follow you around and you can make your pet dog sit and stay, or follow you on adventures.
Ride a Pig
While we’re talking about animals, why not give Pig riding a try? You’ll be needing a saddle and a carrot on a stick.
Build something amazing
You’re only limited by your imagination when crafting giant castles, houses, hotels, beach resorts, tree houses, or models of your own home and garden. Using creative mode you’ll have full access to all the tools you need. Moving water and lava around using a bucket you can create some really cool landscapes.
If you need some space then you can create a “Superflat” world, using the advanced options in the game menu. This creates a basic, flat world that gives you plenty of space to build, but you won’t get any of those amazing Minecraft landscapes. Speaking of which…
Fly around the world
Roaming around on foot is great for exploring, but you can’t beat flying. Flying is another bonus of creative mode and it’ll let you quickly explore huge areas to find the best place for your next awesome build. Don’t forget to pull out a map and a compass from your inventory. The map will give you a birds-eye view, while the compass will always point to home (e.g. where you last slept).
Some other ideas we had:
- Once you’ve mastered flying, then you could try and create some Minecraft pixel art
- You might also want to change the skin in your minecraft account. There’s lots of sites and apps that provide tools for building and changing skins to your favourite characters.
- You could also try out an alternative look-and-feel for Minecraft by installing a texture pack. While installing them will probably need some adult help, once installed its easy to switch between them. Then you make Minecraft look more like Pokemon or maybe just give it a more child friendly feel.
Those were just our ideas. If you’ve got other suggestions for younger kids, or starting player, then feel free to leave a comment below.