Fun and FREE Minecraft-Themed Homeschool Ideas!

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Like most kids, my children love Minecraft. They could play it and talk about it for hours! My son has both Autism and ADHD and is truly obsessed with Minecraft. Every conversation consists of someone talking to him and him replying with a 20-minute response composed of Minecraft facts. We have the PS3 edition and often play together (I’m not going to lie, they’re way, way better at it than me), so I’m pretty familiar with the jargon and how the game works.

While struggling to gain my son’s attention for our homeschool lessons, I realized I needed to combine his obsession with his learning… And it has worked wonders!

I’ve decided to make all of the vocabulary from the game his spelling words each week. They have words ranging from simple, 3-4 letters all the way to complex words. We’re doing 5 each week, to be sure to not wear him out. They will progressively get more difficult with the longer words throughout the year. I’d rather he excitedly learn 5 words than scream through 10 and learn none. 5 matches his attention span closest (he’s actually been tested as having a 3 second attention span) and is working really well for him! The other benefit is that he’s reading and seeing the spelling words as he plays during his off-time.
This week we used the words:
-gold
-ore
-iron
-wool
-ice

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Today, Monday, I had him copy each word and draw a picture of it. This makes it fun and not feel like learning!
Secondly, I made him a story about Minecraft that he could fit the spelling words into. He excitedly read the story to me (and then proceeded to explain that iron swords have more durability than gold, so it made no sense that Steve wanted to get a gold sword in the story when he already had an iron. lol) 🙂

For Math, we decided to figure out how many of certain items we could make with a specific number of diamonds. I know that division may not be where each child is comfortable, so other ideas are counting items, adding ingots together to reach a certain quantity for a specific item, subtracting ingots from a total based on how many each item made requires, etc. These kids are doing this math in their heads while playing, so putting it in the context of pencil and paper math makes math become real!
Our math for today:

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In Science, we are researching the real versions of Minecraft items like obsidian, diamonds, iron, the various types of trees, etc. We’re researching how they’re formed, where they are found, their properties, and more. There’s a nearly unlimited world of things to research from Minecraft.

For our Geography portion, we’re learning about each biome from the game, where it’s found in real life, etc.

Finally, in Social Studies, we are learning about how villages and cities are set up and run and using that knowledge when we play. We’re also learning about mining and its benefits and downfalls for local and global economy and life.

For a fun activity, I have a bonus option. This can be made by the parent if they are comfortable in Minecraft (or ask your kids to teach you how!). I made a school with about 20 questions. Each question is on a sign and has multiple choice or true and false answers on signs that have dispensers under them. This should be built in Creative with a super flat world and played in Survival.
The child reads the sign and finds the correct answer. The dispensers for the incorrect answers are filled with things like slowness potions, sickness potions,  mob spawners, and the like. The correct answer has useful items, such as diamonds, saplings, night vision potions, etc. The child presses the button for the correct answer and receives the appropriate item from the corresponding dispenser. This is useful for things that aren’t learned in Minecraft-ese (telling time, other spelling words, presidents, your state info, and those kinds of things). Afterward, the kids use the items to go out into the world and use the items won to build and craft and play! These are great also as “tests” at the end of each week!
Here’s a picture of the bonus school I made:

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I’ll be posting examples of our Minecraft Homeschooling to this section of my site, so please follow my blog to receive all ideas and updates!
Please share with your friends, both homeschooling and not, as a great tool to either enhance their traditional schooling, keep kids learning through the summer and breaks, or prepare for Kindergarten!
Also, feel free to post any ideas you have to add, your experiences, and your thoughts. I’d love to share and expand on this with your contributions to make it the best learning experience it can be! Thank you!!!

*Disclosure: I do not represent or work for Mojang, Minecraft, or 4J Studios. I own no rights to the images of the game or any part of the game itself. This is simply a fan creation and no rights or permissions for commercial use are expressed or implied.*

May contain associate links, which help me out greatly in supporting my blog. All reviews and opinions are honest and my own. I will never recommend something I don’t truly love.
Thank you so much for supporting me and I always appreciate your views and shares!

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Why homeschooling was the best decision for my family and how I made it work

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This article really hit home for me. It touches on a lot of the benefits I’ve experienced from homeschooling. This is obviously a very personal choice and an important one and it’s so great to hear from other parents.

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I was afraid I couldn’t do it or that I wouldn’t be “good enough”, but I realized after beginning homeschooling that I’m the best teacher for my kids. I was worried about money. I’m a single mom who would be only able to work from home. I have a cottage-based cupcake business, but that’s only as orders are placed. I knew I needed to make a stable income to allow me to homeschool. I decided to become a Tupperware consultant and an Independent Thirty-One Consultant. My hours (both how many I work and when) are completely flexible so I can pay the bills while still being able to homeschool my kids. I realized the only thing that would hold me back was my own fear, so I conquered it.
Sure, there are challenges: “me time” being very limited (although getting paid to be a consultant at parties allows me to make my income while maintaining time with real, live grownups!), juggling housework and school and my own working from home, time management, etc. but the rewards are exponentially greater. I get to be involved 100% with my children’s education.

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I don’t need to get one to two sentence reports from teachers in report cards to summarize months of learning or have to limit my time to ask all of my questions about their progress to fifteen minutes of conference time. I know everything they need extra help with and can work with them until they truly “get it”. I can watch them light up as they get to help me come up with learning themes for the week. I get to tailor their schooling to their interests.

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One week, we focused on cars. We learned how engines work, who invented the first car, learned to read a speedometer and figure out how many miles over the speed limit our imaginary drivers were going and wrote out tickets to match, went to a classic car museum, designed our dream cars, learned about aerodynamics and drag, worked on spelling car-focused words,  and watched How It’s Made car episodes. The excitement and fun of learning while applying the newly acquired knowledge made for complaint-free school and learning that “sticks”. We covered all of the core academic subjects along with real-world information and applications. Not to mention, my six-year-old was doing multiplication! (And laughing while doing it!)

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He tells me often how much he just loves home school. If there comes a day that he doesn’t, we’ll look into changing it, but I can say so far that this has been the best choice and we’re both enjoying school…together.

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Free Sensory activities in Akron!

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From Autism Ohio website:

“SENSORY STORY TIME
Offered 3rd Saturday of Every Month
10:30am and 11:30am
Akron-Summit County Public Library
Northwest Akron Branch
The Autism Society of Greater Akron is pleased to partner with the Akron-Summit County Public Library to bring Sensory Story Time to our community.  We would to also thank the Akron Community Foundation’s Millennium Fund for Children for granting financial resources to support this initiative.

Join us for a program offering educational, literacy and social opportunities for children of all ages with differing abilities, their siblings, parents/caregivers and typically developing peers.

The program incorporates:

Schedule Board
Double Visuals for Books Read
Sensory Opportunities
Half Hour of Play Time for All
The program is offered at two different times – 10:30am and 11:30am.  Both classes contain the same content, so choose the one that best fits your family’s schedule.

Please contact Tricia Twarogowski, Branch Manager at 330-643-4702 with questions or to RSVP for this program.

Read more about the program HERE.

DATE: June 21st, July 19th, August 16th, September 20th, October 18th, November 15th, December 20th
TIME: 10:30am or 11:30am (choose one)
PLACE: Northwest Akron Branch – Akron-Summit County Public Library
1720 Shatto Avenue, Akron, OH 44313
COST :
FREE
RSVP: ttwarogowski@akronlibrary.org

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*May contain affiliate links. All opinions are always my own

Things NOT to say to a Sensory Parent

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Thank you so much, Sensory Processing Parent Support for this list! Check out their page for the entire list!

My favorites are:

5) You just need to discipline him more. He’ll straighten up.
 
6) Your child is spoiled…
 
7) I don’t know how you do it!
 
8) They’ll grow out of it.

10) “He seems perfectly normal to me!”
 

16) Just whoop em’/let em’ cry it out.
 
17) Its your fault for not making her listen
 
18) He needs a good slap.
 
19) My kid does the same thing, so it’s probably normal age thing

22) Give me one weekend with him, I’d straighten him right out!

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*May contain affiliate links. All opinions are always my own

Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh…

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I had to share this report from my son’s teacher today. He’s is in a very small special needs class and has Autism and ADHD.
When I pulled this out of his bag and read the first sentence, it was all I could do not to laugh hysterically.
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My family’s gluten-free month and why we are giving it a try

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My name is Amy and I’m 35. I have a boyfriend named Ryan and my two kids, a girl who’s 10 and a boy who’s 6.
I have two autoimmune diseases that the doctors have struggled to control since my early twenties. I have Lupus (and the Lupus-caused kidney disease, Lupus Nephritis) and a very rare one called Behcet’s (it has affected my brain, so it’s now considered Neuro-Behcet’s. I have severe gastrointestinal problems from the Behcet’s. Lupus is fairly well known, albeit not intricately, but at least most have heard of it. Behcet’s is something that at the doctors have to look up when I’m in the hospital because of complications from it. It’s a really strange one and took over a decade for the docs to figure out with me. I was thought to have MS, Parkinson’s, hypochondria, depression, and a host of others that took forever for the docs to realize weren’t the issue. (I do also have Chronic Mono, Lyme Disease, and Dopa-Responsive Dystonia, which complicated the weeding-out process. The Dystonia is due to brain damage from Behcet’s that causes me to not make enough dopamine) I also have OCD and PTSD.
I started long term chemo and immune suppression but my body has yet to go into remission. I’ve had numerous strokes, surgeries, and infections.
My body attacks both itself and my child when I’m pregnant. I’ve had a number of miscarriages and both my children were delivered prematurely (daughter was 5 weeks, son was almost 9 weeks early) to save our lives. My son has had symptoms of Autism since birth and was officially diagnosed at 14 months and 2 years. His brain didn’t get to form correctly because of the damage my body was doing to him plus the prematurity of birth. He now struggles with Autism and ADHD and is in a special class of 4 children and has an aide with him from bus pickup until home.
My daughter had colic as an infant and has always had a hard time with sensory issues and has, since age two, had joint pain and occasional swelling. She also has stomach pain and headaches fairly often. She was given the juvenile arthritis workup and came back fine. We still aren’t sure what is causing this for her.
My boyfriend has gout and  hypothyroidism. He’s had difficulties with depression and has PTSD from two tours in Iraq.

By the accounts I’ve heard and studies I’ve read, we all have something to potentially gain from a gluten-free diet. So, this month starts our journey to testing it out. We’re trying it for at least a month to see if we notice any effects.

I am a vegetarian since childhood (my kids aren’t) and my son has a lot of food aversions that are common with Autism. My boyfriend is the pickiest adult eater I’ve ever known, so this will be a dance of figuring out meals and making sure everyone’s diet is nutritionally sound and nobody hates their food (at least not more than normal… lol).

So, begins our journey! I hope you’ll follow along and we can maybe help you decide if it’s worth a try. I figure if it helps just one of us, it’s the right move!