Minecraft for Parents

Inspired somewhat by Miss Oh’s videos of her Let’s Play world, I decided that it would be nice to create something for parents of young Minecrafters.

When I first heard of Minecraft it sounded like it had a lot of potential for the Oh Waily kids to learn lots of new skills while having fun.  So I went off and gave it a trial run.  Just me. On my own.

I can tell you it was less than successful as the game comes with no instructions and there I was trying to work out how to do things.  I managed to figure out the punching thing and the digging by hand thing but the crafting stuff just bamboozled me.  While I’m all for exploration and figuring things out, if your young one chooses to play Survival (any version except Peaceful) and they don’t work enough things out before night-time, then they encounter the game’s googlies.  This is likely to mean a quick end to the game and if they re-spawn (re-enter the game) they are likely to be very close to the bad guys again and the same quick end is likely to turn in to “Groundhog Day”.  If your kids are very young or have a temperament that feels these sorts of defeats, then this could put them off from playing what is a very open-ended, creative, sandbox game.

Now there may be other videos and articles out there for parents to watch or read, so they can help with these very first steps, but I didn’t find them when we started.  And since we’ve been at this for a little while now I have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge and resources to help my young’ens make the most out of their games.  Frankly, now they’re the ones teaching me what to do and what not to.  If we decide to make more than a basic introduction series of three or four videos, it’s possible that the Patch kids might take over the Guide videos.  (Yes, I’m always angling for learning experiences.)

In the meantime, if you’re the parent of a young one desperate to give Minecraft a go and want a basic introduction to get them through the first night or two please stop over at our first foray into tutorials.  Our intention is to put one out each week until we think we’ve covered enough of the basics that a young child can survive in order to do the exploration Minecraft is so good for.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment here or over on the video.  We will do our best to answer them for you.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZmXcypfB0g” ]



LightningMatt is about to strike

LightningMattYT1Young Master Oh Waily wishes to get in on the video making bandwagon and has been asking me if he can for a week or two now.
This week both his interest and my time collided so that I could let him have a practice run.   The practice ended up being 30 minutes long and it is likely that I will be asked to edit that in to something he can upload to YouTube.  Then this morning he sat with his sister and did a second one as well.  I didn’t eavesdrop on them, but according to sources close to the recording he might just sometimes forget to use the gamer tag names they have chosen.  I can see much fun and probable hair-pulling on my part when it comes to working out how to edit what he has recorded.

I’m proud of his attitude of giving it a go.  At six years old I think he’s going to have done pretty well just to have completed one and have it uploaded.  He does have his own channel on YouTube.  There was never any chance of him not since his sister does!  I will post here when we have something uploaded, which will probably be some time next week.  Once we do, if you could stop by in a bit of spare time to give him a thumbs up, that would be greatly appreciated.

I’m now looking forward to taking a look to see what they’ve put together.  It should be an interesting comparison of styles – because they really do have very different ways of doing things!

Joyful illiteracy, the best start

It’s no secret that I have become very interested in the Finnish education system over the last little while and on reflection I think there’s a lot about the way they do things that backs up why we chose to home educate.   I came across this article in The Atlantic called The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland by Tim Walker.  It pretty much encapsulates a lot of my ideas about the need for younger children to have A LOT of free play time and not foisting academics on to them.

Personally I still struggle with letting go of the need to do maths or reading, but I am relaxing more about it the longer we home educate.  It’s so ingrained to think that kids need to be taught everything that I am constantly facing my own issues around what I think we should be doing.  Some days I win that battle beautifully, other days – not so much!

Sitting here on the fringes of our education system it worries me to see us following the US / GERM model where the need for more ‘accountability’ is based on ideology rather than based on observable facts & research.   More testing and more emphasis on the outcome rather than the journey.  We are beginning to treat our kids like a commodity – their worth is tied to their test scores !!   Really ?!?!

You want to narrow the gap, but you open things up to competition.  Ummm, yeah.  Not sure how you see that working.   Competition & league tables must lead parents to create an imbalance in opportunity through the financial ability to buy in zone.  I’m not sure how you can’t see that this increases the gap you are trying to close.  A little bit more funding does nothing to even the playing field when you are talking about serious money at one end of the spectrum.

Also, how about instead of screwing your teachers down by making them accountable, you consider lifting them up with professional development and improving the working conditions?  Any reasonable business person knows that a successful company is built through happy, engaged and valued staff.  If you want to look at schools in a business-like way, which is of course the GERM way.  So why are you making things harder rather than easier?   Why aren’t you elevating the status of teacher and addressing the training, mentoring and long-term retention.  Why aren’t you attracting the best and brightest to the profession, if it’s the teachers who aren’t holding up the standards?  As the boss of the school system, perhaps your hiring skills suck and you aren’t actually that great a boss to work for.

It’s all smoke and mirrors, political ideology trumps the needs of the child – and it is one very big reason why we will continue to home educate.  Whatever mistakes I make as a parent trying to do this will be outweighed by the positives my kids will gain from having the freedom to focus on what they want to learn and how they want to learn.  It’s going to be much better than having them value themselves on the basis of somebody else’s idea of what scores highly in a written test.

I really hope your lovely little school child is that monkey there, or heaven help his self esteem and mental picture of himself !


Apologies for the rant.  Whenever I think about this topic it starts to grind my gears.  We don’t have to face this because of the path we’ve chosen, but I hate to think of all those lovely little people being told to climb trees when clearly they are much better swimming in the open ocean – and then feeling stink about themselves because they can’t do it.  Heartbreaking to think of it !!

For more about the Finnish style, take a look at these videos over at YouTube.

Happy viewing!

The Cow Episode

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.14.44 pm

Today’s blog post is brought to you by “Pigs in space….”

Oh wait.   No…. that’s my youth I’m reliving*.

This is Miss Oh’s youth we’re talking about here.  In that case it should be “Cows in trees”.  In this episode you meet the gravity defying bovines that populate the Minecraft world.  Well, mostly gravity defying and apparently expert climbers.

Fences are built, random movie moments are stolen** and re-interpreted by a child who has never seen the original, and the odd witty remark is passed.  All by my lovely eight year old !!

Before we get to the link, I must again thank those who have subscribed to her channel.  As of yesterday she has made it to her first goal – 10 subscribers.  She is also well on her way to 100 views on one video – with her first episode up to 70 views now.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRvr7LAvvAw” ]


  • Bonus points to you for recognising the reference.

** Triple points if you get that reference too.


Sneaky Art


Miss Oh snuck the iPad off to her bedroom yesterday and I thought she was either watching the ubiquitous Minecraft videos on YouTube or playing a random game.  It turns out I was wrong on both points.

She was watching YouTube videos, but it was one of our other subscriptions, Art for Kids Hub.

Instead of doing any of the drawing prompts she chose to do the origami.  She made and decorated the Snapper, a cup, a flower, a hat and heart.  All done sneakily on her own.  Here are some of them.  She’s undecided if she will decorate them or not, so for now they are mostly plain white.

Origami Cup

Origami Heart-2

Origami Hat

And then she finished off with a Minecraft drawing, in homage to an effort to find a wolf to tame that she had made earlier in the morning.

Minecraft Doggie

I can heartily recommend the Art for Kids Hub, either at their website or at their YouTube channel.  It’s great, straightforward art for kids to try out.  And it’s on topic for what’s in with younger kids.

Minecraft History: The King’s Chamber

After a bit of a bump at about the halfway mark, the Oh Waily kids have managed to persevere and complete the King’s Chamber in their History World pyramid.
To be fair, I designed the stairways as they found it pretty tough translating the cross-section diagram of Khufu’s tomb in to a Minecraft world, but it’s something we can work on as they get more practiced at the planning side of things.

Once again, however, the great bulk of this creation is their own.
Master Oh Waily created the actual space while Miss Oh Waily did most of the outfitting.  She even designed the contents of the boat chest to look like the profile of Egyptian boats she had seen in our readings.

We hope you enjoy.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJdJbuA-TEs” maxwidth=700 ]