Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Education with Minecraft

There are so many blog posts about the wonder that is Minecraft, so I thought I'd add to them with my own thoughts and insights about what it has taught us as a family. 

I equally love and hate Minecraft. To make this post simple to read and slightly less emotional than it could possibly become, I'm going to list my loves and hates below. 

1) It takes up such an extraordinary amount of space in my children's heads
2) It's all I hear about in the car, at meal times and during late night chats
3) They're always "just doing something"

1) George 1 can spell - a feat that no amount of me doing spelling tests could accomplish
2) George 2 is learning to spell
3) learning the formation of rocks and minerals
4) Learning what a biome is
5) Learning about survival and food production
6) Learning money management
7) Making friends all around the world
8) Learning about environmental issues
9) Maths skills galore
10) Team work
11) Supporting each other and encouraging each other to constantly improve
12) Developing artistic skills
13) Creating yoga poses based on Minecraft characters

I guess I've just proved myself wrong there and my loves and hates are not at all equal. On reflection, I can see what a positive thing Minecraft can be, as long as it is used in balance with the rest of our lives. 

2015 has started brilliantly

For the past 2 years or so we've been pretty unstructured in our approach. It's been necessary with other things going on in our lives. During that time the children read a lot, played huge numbers of games, visited interesting places and learned in a very different way. 

As often happens when winter is upon us, we found ourselves needing to fill our days with meaningful activities. So, we set up a structured routine to our day. It has been a magnificent turning point. Each day the children are set pieces of work to complete. They almost always include reading, writing and numbers in their various forms. 

George 1 is following an online book club run by and is reading Animal farm by George Orwell. I'll hold my hands up and confess that I've never read it, despite always having had a deep rooted interest in Russian history. It's a fabulously simple, yet rich book that can be read on so many levels. So far George 1 has looked at the Russian Revolution, different types of political systems, and how allegories work. He's also learned how to write a synopsis, look at alternative story lines and how to discuss a book. He's written a diary account as though he was one of the characters. It's been a fabulous journey for him that has broadened his literary skills. He has always loved learning through reading and this course has developed his natural fascination for challenging texts. 

Both George 1 and 2 have also completed a Minecraft Homeschool class and are about to embark on their second. It's been great to focus their love of Mincraft on something new. They have developed their skills and knowledge base and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people. 

George 3 is slowing developing his interest in reading through the wonderful world of Reading Eggs. I have an understanding and belief that children learn to read when they're ready. I am exposing him constantly to the written word. We read stories and scriptures daily, we play word games like eye spy, we use online systems such as Reading Eggs and paper asked worksheet style resources. As he's exposed, he's learning to recognise how words take shape without the relentless monotony of reading using only phonics. It's a fabulous journey to go on with children and it's a privilege to witness this process first hand for a second time. 

We've also covered topics such as the upcoming General Election, a day's of the week project and aborigines. Next week I have a topic planned on the book Leonardo's Horse. 

We're continuing to investigate our new surroundings and find beautiful places to visit. We're starting to build a small garden in preparation for the spring. But most importantly, were pulling together again and were happier than we've been for a few years. We're all heading in the same direction, we're developing an appetite for learning and growing. We're excited for 2015 and all it will bring. It's started definitely as I mean it to go on. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Church Ope Cove

We have been told time and time again to visit Church Ope Cove on Portland, so today we made the trip. Am I ever glad we did! What an incredibly beautiful place and well worth the climb back up. We can't wait to go back again with some warmer weather, swimming costumes and a picnic.