Minecraft-themed lessons are here to help your kids learn to code

Coding Games

Code.org is really pulling the stops out this year, having previously announced a partnership with Disney to includeStar Wars-themed coding lessons. Since the event is happening Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, this is perfectly timed to ride the wave of Star Wars hype that will surround the global release ofStar Wars: The Force Awakenson Dec. 18.

The lessons teach the basics of computer science, asking students to move Minecraft characters Alex or Steve through a blocky, Minecraft-like world. To keep the lessons accessible to beginners, the lessons use a system called Blockly, instead of potentially scary-looking text-based instructions.

So it seems a logical extension to actually create coding lessons that use the adorably simple-lookingbut actually ingeniously complexgame mechanics of Minecraft itself.

But in announcing its partnership with code.org to add Minecraft-themed content to the Hour Of Code event, Minecraft owner Microsoft notes the game has also demonstrated big educational possibilities. The press release remarks that more than 7,000 teachers around the world are already incorporating Minecraft into lessons to teach things like strategy, collaboration, and survival.

Learning to code need never be boring, as the clever creativity s annual Hour Of Code educational push shows. But this year theres a new slant to the initiative that could make coding more fun for kids to learn than ever:Minecraft-themed lessons.

This is no half-hearted Minecraft clone either; no boring lesson merely dressed up to look like Minecraft. Its actually been built with the help of the games own coding team, so its the genuine pixellated article, complete with helpful videos from the coders themselves.

Programming in Blockly is as simple as dragging and dropping instructional icons like turn left or move forward into order on the screen. While dodging obstacles and moving characters through the world, the idea is that students learn basic ideas like program loops and If statements almost without noticing, since theyll feel like natural elements of a game rather than abstract scientific principles.

Minecraft is many things. Its baffling to non-gamers, addictive to kids of all ages plus many a full-sized human, and almost mind-bogglingly popular. official statistics report that nearly 21.5 million people have bought the PC or Mac version of the game.)

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