Talking with kids about big issue topics like preparing for natural disasters and climate change can be tricky. You want to be honest and factual but not scary. Kids these days are so engaged with gaming. This Minecraft Climate Warriors game encourages them to learn, problem-solve, and plan, which is a good way to initiate conversations.
As parents we have to do a lot of talking! When we’re talking about the big issue topics, we want to be factual, honest, and most importantly not boring, so it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other! Tackling topics like climate change and preparing for natural disasters like bush fires, can be daunting, as there is a balance to be struck between providing all the facts, and not giving them so much information that your kids might feel anxious about the state of the world. Bushfires and how to prepare for them, is a very real thing that Australia kids may have to deal with.
Continue reading for a free Minecraft Screen Time Printable… perfect for school holidays.
This post is sponsored by NRMA Insurance, written by Kate Rigg Fletcher
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Black Summer 2019-2020 bushfires were ravaging the country. My kids recently got to try out NRMA Insurance’s Climate Warriors, which is a free new world available for Minecraft users. The landscape and challenges in the game is inspired by Australian coastal towns and real-life scenarios from the 2019-2020 bushfires. Playing the game with my girls naturally opened up some conversations about what happened last time the bush fires were nearby. We also discussed what we have to do around our property, now during the cooler months, to prepare before summer arrives, and the bushfire threat increases.
Talking about big issues with kids
Consider the following points when tackling conversations with kids about big topics or difficult subjects:
- Be honest and factual, but stay at their level. For younger children, use words they will understand, and don’t overwhelm them with information.
- Use something engaging to initiate the topic. A book, tv show, or a computer game can be a great way to start a dialogue about a topic, and spark questions and conversation.
- Encourage questions and ask for their thoughts and feelings.
- When discussing issues like climate change – talk about the positive actions we can make as individuals, such as making more eco-friendly choices.
- End the conversation on a positive note – for instance when talking about the Black Summer bush fires, you could talk about how the country rallied to help those affected with millions of dollars donated to charities.
Minecraft Climate Warriors
Managing screen time in my house can be a bit of an issue at times, but Minecraft is one of the games I don’t mind my kids playing. I like how it encourages creativity and I think the education possibilities it presents are amazing. I have seen a junior high school assignment where the students had to recreate a historically accurate town in Minecraft. Those kids were really engaged with what they were learning let me tell you! My girls were thrilled when I said I wanted to them to play some Minecraft and show me what was happening in the game.
Created by NRMA Insurance, Climate Warriors was designed to help engage and educate Australian kids about how to prepare for natural disasters. It is based on real world data and climate change research. There is also a corresponding lesson plan available for teachers who use Minecraft Education in their classrooms.
Some of the Scenarios in the game:
- My girls tested out different building materials as to whether or not they could withstand fire and extreme temperatures
- Flew a rescue helicopter to a town threatened by fires
- Helped evacuate a stranded family
- Rescued a koala from the fires
My kids love everything about Minecraft, and had a lot of fun playing in this world, particularly with the unique features of fire trucks, helicopters and Australian wild life. While they were having fun playing, we also were able to chat about what happened during the 2019/2020 fires.
The 2019-2020 bushfire season here in Australia was absolutely devastating to huge sections of the country with lives and homes lost and over 17 million hectares across the country burned. My family lives in a rural area, and our little town was significantly affected by fires. Quite a number of areas and homes had to be evacuated, and firefighters worked around the clock to save properties. I will never forget how surreal it all seemed, as if I had accidentally stumbled onto a movie set. Going into our town for supplies it was nearly empty of people, instead of the bustling little tourist spot it normally is. Seemingly endless convoys of emergency vehicles driving through with their sirens blaring, as they headed out to the command centre. The colour of the sky, and the way the choking smoke just hung in the air. The light of fires visible at night as it burned in the hills near the town. The continuous droning sounds from the helicopters.
Our family was one of the lucky ones, as our house was out the path of the fires, well over on the other side of town. However daily our children would come home from school asking about what we would do if the fires came closer, what they could bring with us if we had to evacuate like some of their friends. It was a frightening time for them, and I can only begin to imagine what it felt like for families who were truly severely affected by the fires.
Bushfires are a part of life living in Australia, particularly if you live in a more rural area. The only thing that you can do is to make sure you and your home is prepared as much as possible, you have a bushfire survival plan and that you have discussed your plan with all members of your family.
How do you tackle big topic issues in your family?
Gaming is fun (and can be educational) but finding a balance is important! Use this printable to encourage the kids to do some screen-free activities or household responsibilities before they start gaming each day. We’ve left some blocks blank so you can personalise the chart.
This checklist is perfect for helping managing screen time over the school holidays.
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