A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft – Part 3


Now, our Minecraft guide for parents (or beginners) is moving into the realms of Survival!

Part 1 told us how to set up Minecraft, while Part 2 gave us some essential knowledge to get things moving. Now, let’s put that knowledge into practice.

Setting Up Your First Survival World

Open your launcher like  and press ‘play’ on the installation that you created in part 1. Click Singleplayer and then Create New World. Then enter the following settings and click that button at the bottom, Create New World.

Minecraft will then create a brand new world with these settings. The world itself will be utterly random (within certain parameters). There are already a few differences from how things looked in creative.

Your Minecraft screen should now look a little bit like the screenshot below.

Minecraft

User Interface (UI) differences

There are three initial UI differences from creative mode. Firstly, hearts. They represent your health. They will go down if you get hurt (attacked / fall).

Secondly, those meat sticks. They represent your hunger. In more advanced modes (normal or higher), they will drop down over time and you’ll need to eat to bring them back up again.

Finally, those empty bars below the hearts and above the inventory bar. That’s your experience (XP) bar. As you do things in the game of accomplishment, it will fill up. When it reaches the end, you’ll go up a level.

That things on the right, by the way. It’s your right hand. It’s currently empty. You can use an empty hand, though, to bash things and break them. It will take longer than if you were holding something suitable, but it will still get the job done (on some things).

Now, press ‘e’ to open your inventory. Remember how in creative mode when we opened the inventory that we saw loads of different types of blocks? It’s very different in survival mode. Your inventory looks different and it’s empty.

Minecraft

It’s empty because you have to collect anything that you want to use in survival mode. We haven’t collected anything yet. Let’s remedy that right now.

Crafting

Crafting in Minecraft is the act of taking some items and turning them into something else. You will quickly learn that there is a vast number of combinations of items that can be used to construct stuff, and varieties of those individual items too. Let’s take a pickaxe, for example. You can make pickaxes out of wood, stone, iron, gold, diamond and something called netherite.

Let’s also not forget that survival mode means that you need to do things to survive. It’s day time when you start, but the clock ticks on in Minecraft, and when it turns to night time, creepy things are going to come out and try and harm you. That means that you have to do something to prepare for that. NOW!

First things first. You need to collect something to craft with. Let’s start with wood.

Run up to a tree and then start to hit it (left mouse button). If you’re close enough, then after a few hits, it will drop a block of wood. It will be a different type of wood depending on what tree you hit. Keep going until you’ve collected a few blocks of wood, like the screenshot below.

I’ve collected 9 blocks of wood. Great stuff. Now, to use them. No – to craft with them. Now we have some items, return to your inventory by pressing the ‘e’ key.  Then click on the green book, which will open up a panel on the left.

The left panel will tell you what you can make with the items in your inventory. Cool! So, with your wooden blocks, you can turn them into planks. So, let’s do that. Click on the planks in the left panel, and the 2 x 2 grid on the right panel will fill with the ingredients needed. Can you see how the crafted item appears in the box on the far right? It says planks, with a 4 next to it. That means you’ve crafted four planks. Drag them into your inventory.

Minecraft

Good stuff. You now have four planks. But because you now have these new items, you can make different things. As you drag them into your inventory, the panel on the left tells you that you can make even more stuff! While this is great, this isn’t the best way to craft. The 2 x 2 grid is quite limited with what it can make. You need a crafting table, which has a 3 x 3 grid and allows you to make the things that you’re going to need. Let’s make a crafting table.

Minecraft

Sometimes the recipe for items doesn’t automatically appear in the left panel. If it doesn’t, no problems. Look at the image above. Drag over four planks into the 2 x 2 grid and the crafting block will appear on the right. Drag it into your inventory bar and – voila – it’s yours! You made it!

If your crafting table is in the fourth slow of your inventory bar, then press ‘4’ on the keyboard to put it into your right hand. If it’s in your hand, then it should look like this:

Minecraft

With the crafting table in your hand, right click on the ground to put it down. Like the screenshot below.

Now, right click on the crafting table, and you can use it! The crafting table screen looks like this:

Minecraft

Notice a few things. Firstly, the amount of items you can craft with the ingredients that you already have is a lot greater. Also, the grid for building stuff is 3 x 3.

What can we build then? Well, just from the wood and planks that you have, you can make sticks. With wood, planks and sticks, you can make all the stuff in the picture above.

Look at the top row. Spade, sword, hoe, pickaxe, axe. They are the five core tools in Minecraft. Click on the pickaxe tool and make one.

Minecraft

Drag it into an inventory slot, and then press the relevant number to use it in your right hand.

You made your first tool!

In brief, this is what the main tools do. <Deep breath> Spades are used on dirt and grass. Swords are for attacking. Hoes are for tending to seeds. Pickaxes are for digging rock. Axes are for chopping trees.

Look again at the picture above. With more wood, you can make more wooden blocks, a fence, a door, signs and more.

Advice on what to do next

You now know how to make the tools that you need to survive. This is when you need to explore your world yourself and use those tools. I will provide you with some suggestions of what you can do, and what you need to be aware of to survive.

  • With your pickaxe, collect some stone (cobblestone) and make stone tools. They last longer and are more effective than wooden tools.
  • Make an axe and collect lots of wood.
  • Build a shelter. You can either build a wooden hut or build a cave into a mountain and put a door on it.
  • If you mine and collect coal, you can make torches.
  • If you mine with a stone pickaxe, you can collect iron and make iron tools.
  • You can make armour (armor) out of iron.
  • You can use a sword to kill animals for food. (Minecraft is not vegan friendly)

We have now covered the basics. Go forth to practice and discover.

Becoming an advanced Minecraft Parent

The first three parts of this guide have been all about teaching you how the basics of Minecraft work. It’s a detailed explanation of the stuff that your kids already know, and it’s really been for the benefit of someone who’s never really used Minecraft before.

The following guides are a bit more advanced. They’re intended to provide you with skills to expand Minecraft functionality for your kids. I had to learn the next steps the hard way and wasted a lot of time. Subsequent Looking for the Postman Minecraft tutorials will save you from making the mistakes I did.

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