Digital Gardening by the Gardening Nana
Writer / Nancy Craig
My great nephews, Max and Eli, love Minecraft! One description of Minecraft is “The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting and combat.” In watching the boys play this video game I realized that they could design and build a garden. So Eli patiently showed me, his computer challenged Nana, how this game works and we soon had a garden with wheat, poppies, tulips, sunflowers and watermelons.
Just like in designing and planting a real garden we had to start with the dirt, dig and plant seeds and then water and wait for the plants to grow. Except a Minecraft “day” is very quick and with a little bone meal, our wheat shot up and was ready for harvest!
Eli added birdbaths and flowerpots, but the most important item to add was a fence around the garden since, just like in real life, critters attack the plants. In Minecraft, “slime” is the digital pest and we had to build our fences taller to keep them out.
Of course, Nana prefers books to digital games so I like the ideas in this book, Gardening LAB for Kids, 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown. From this book, we will keep busy with “Dig In” / “Dig Deeper” sections, finding experiments that each age level can enjoy. Challenging us to take a gardening idea we have already done in the past and make it in a different way.
We will take the ideas from the book that are more traditional like designing our garden using seed catalog pictures of flowers and vegetables for the younger twins, Lindsey and Lauren, while the boys use their Minecraft.
I like this quote on the book, “A refreshing source of ideas to help your children learn to grow their own patch of earth, Gardening Lab for Kids encourages children to get outside and enjoy nature.” While we are waiting these next few months until we can get outside we will have fun with Minecraft digital gardening. See this site for info on Minecraft plants: minecraftopia.com/plants.
Next project is to try to make the Spiral Herb garden from the Gardening Lab book and translate it to Minecraft. The boy’s mother, Jill, loves cilantro so we will have to use our imagination since Minecraft does not have herb plants. Maybe a melon stem would suffice.
Happy digital gardening!