This summer, a coworker and I decided to provide a Minecraft program for children ages 6 to 11. Originally, we planned to only offer it every other Monday; however, due to the high demand for the program, we ended up offering it EVERY Monday and EVERY Wednesday! We have been doing this for just over a month now, and I feel like I should talk about this program. Because this program is so popular and it draws in an age group that doesn’t always have a lot programs geared towards them, I can see a lot of libraries wanting to jump onto the bandwagon. So here I am…talking about it. Except…I’m not sure I have all that much to say.
We use MinecraftEdu for this program. I’m not going to talk about MinecraftEdu because the awesome Anthony Martocello of the Northport-East Northport Public Library has already created a stupendous MinecraftEdu primer that you should all check out now! It is amazing, and it will walk you through everything you’d want to know about MinecraftEdu.
A few pointers for hosting a MinecraftEdu program:
- Be very familiar with the game. Load it onto your work computer and spend a good deal of time playing it before you even think about going into a room filled with Minecraft fanatics. I had the game loaded onto my computer a week before the first Minecraft program, but, due to Summer Reading being in full swing at the time, I only spent about 15 or 20 minutes on it, and I only knew the very basic, basic, basics. Even now, over a month later, I’m still learning new things about this game and freaking out every time something happens that doesn’t make sense to me.
- Kids are pretty good about helping each other (and you!) out, so when you do encounter something that you don’t know how to do, just ask…someone’s bound to know what to do.
- RULES! You’ll need to set some rules at the start of the program. Some of our rules include 1) No griefing (no bullying…don’t go into someone’s house without permission…don’t kill other peoples’ animals, etc.), 2) No swearing (it has happened, unfortunately…in the chat no less), 3) No begging (some kids want the weather on…some want the weather off…some want monsters…some don’t…some what day/night…some don’t), let the kids know that you’ll try your best to create an awesome world, but you can’t please everyone.
- Also, let the kids know that if someone’s in their house uninvited or destroying their house, they should raise their hand to have you come over and look. That way you know who to freeze/talk to. You’ll find a lot of times kids will randomly say “SOMEONE’S IN MY HOUSE!” but when you go to inspect, no one’s there.
- Use creative mode. Flying is awesome.
- You’ll want to bring a piece of paper to write down each child’s real name, their username, and the computer they’re at. This comes in handy if you have to freeze someone due to behavioral issues, or if you’re TPing (transporting) someone. It’s also cool to see who shows up every week.
- We’ve found that 25 is the magic number for us. Having more than 25 people on the server causes lagging…and sometimes we even have lagging when there’s under 25 people.
And that’s about it (I’m sure I’m missing something though).
I’ll be honest with you guys…I have very mixed feelings about this program. On the one hand, I love it because it’s cool and it’s bringing kids into the library. I love it when kids say, “Hey, Miss Erin, come look at this house I built!” or when they say hi to me when I’m at the ref desk because they recognize me from Minecraft.
However, this is also a stressful program for me. There are days when the technology is lagging and kids are near tears. There are days where everyone seems to be griefing one another. There are days where I’m surrounded by kids who all want to TP to someone else and it’s very confusing for me to keep everyone straight. I have taken to bringing a stress ball with me into this program.
BUT, I think the pros outweigh the cons for the most part.
Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have to go play some Minecraft.