Zenn is a social person at heart. He is easy going, respectful, and has maintained many friends at school. But my geeky behaviors, such as introducing them to Dash and Dot, Lego robots, and Kerbal Space Program, had less effect on Zenn than it had on Hugh.
But something changed this summer as Zenn brought up Minecraft, which was played by some of the older boys at his school. So I showed them the Minecraft which I had installed on our shared computer long ago, and unexpectedly, Hugh loved it more than Kerbal! At our home, we have a house rule of no screens on Sundays. So that left the boys with about 30 minutes every weekday and an hour or two on Saturday to use the devices (in between school and classes). And Hugh has been asking for Minecraft whenever opportunities present themselves! Initially, they had a hard time making anything apart from running, jumping, digging, etc. But after I had taught them about the Crafting Table, and the Creative Mode, Hugh has thrived in Minecraft!
First, he started decorating his room interior, and kept pet polar bears (he reasoned that it was better to have grass in the house). And he also kept “no monsters” signs outside his house to ask the monsters to go elsewhere
Then, he started writing story books which he kept in Minecraft.
Hugh’s engagement and enthusiasm has a large impact on Zenn. Zenn also asked to play, and so they have to negotiate to share the computer. At first, they figured that one could control the keyboard, while another control the mouse. I told them it would be difficult to create anything that way. Then, they figured they should take turns to play.
While Hugh has been more spontaneous in his play (well, he is five!), Zenn is older and can develop longer term plans about what he intends to create in Minecraft. Every Christmas, we will put together a small Christmas village under the Christmas tree. And I asked Zenn whether he like to build his own cottage. He bought the idea, and went ahead with creating an entire village with several houses and his favorite Pokemon! I 3D printed it for Zenn to paint.
(Tiger Balm for scale)
Every kid is different. Zenn is still the social, empathetic, and arty kid. But because Hugh is around, he started playing with computers a little more than he would. When we visited a local bookstore, Zenn spotted and asked to buy a book on Red Stone! While he does not understand electric circuit, he has been reading about things Red Stone could do. This shows how important it is for kids to get immersed in a social environment that says and does positive things about computers. It energizes computer learning, makes it fun, and develops self-initiative so important to self-teaching.