I didn’t pay much attention to Animal Crossing: New Horizons when it came out, figuring it was just another made up game world looking to suck up my time. I was also reluctant to plunk down $60 for a game I was pretty sure my son wouldn’t like. I finally gave in, and we started playing a few weeks ago. I was surprised to find not only does he love it, but he’s actually learning from playing the game! He’ll be finishing this summer a stronger reader and speller, and it’s mostly from playing this video game together.
Welcome to Minecraft Island
When my 7-year-old son and I started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons I didn’t think I’d be into it, but now I’m digging up fossils, planting flowers and having fun decorating and building our little island paradise.
Technically, it’s my son’s island. Of course he named it Minecraft, after his longtime favorite game. I was surprised he wanted to play Animal Crossing because his favorite activities involve destruction and general mayhem. But this game is all about building things up, decorating and making friends.
If you have been considering getting the game, today is the day to do it, because Amazon is having a sale where you can get the game, plus a year of Nintendo Switch online for $60. (just click the link to see it) The game itself is $60, so that gives you a year of the online membership for free!
You can play the game without the Nintendo Switch membership, but you are going to want it so you can do the fun stuff, like visiting other peoples’ islands and inviting them to visit yours.
Reading, Building and Learning on Animal Crossing
Now that we are into playing the game, I’m finding all kinds of bonus benefits that turn it into a fun learning experience. I’ve written a few posts on the benefits of kids playing video games, so I’m happy to have found a new learning tool to work with. I had no idea there would be so many benefits to playing this game! Read on to see how playing Animal Crossing can be a great learning experience for kids.
There’s a lot of reading in the game, which is one reason I thought my son wouldn’t like it. I was pleasantly surprised when he actually took the time to read what the characters were saying, and ask me to help him with words he didn’t know. Also, every bug, plant, fish, etc. is a new word added to his vocabulary. Since we’ve been playing, he has been reading faster and easier. Plus he knows the names of all kinds of new bugs and animals.
When people visit your island, they talk to you through texting on the screen. My son has been learning to spell so he can reply back with what he wants to say. And as he learns to spell the words, he’s also getting practice learning where the letters are on the keyboard.
Besides the reading and spelling, your child will also be learning about lots of new bugs, fish and fossils! Once you start your museum, your goal is to eventually find one of everything to fill it up. That means one of every bug, fish, sea creature and dinosaur fossil in the game. Every time you find one, the name will pop up. Unlike a lot of games (like Minecraft) this game doesn’t fill their head with a bunch of made-up monsters and names. The items you find are real things, and you can learn more about each one when you drop it off at the museum.
This is one you might not even think about, but when people visit your island, they often bring gifts. This requires saying “Thank You,” and sometimes reciprocating with a gift of your own. And when you visit other people’s islands, you need to have good manners and respect their space. It’s not nice to trample their flowers or take things without asking.
If you are looking for more island visitors, or to visit islands, I suggest checking out Animal Crossing Facebook groups. That’s how we have gotten a lot of new Nintendo friends! And please message me if you would like to exchange friend codes to become friends on Animal Crossing. However, just remember that half the time it’s a 7-year-old boy playing with me, lol.
Island visitors leads into our next surprise benefit- life lessons. Just like in real life, if you leave your stuff lying all over the place, somebody may walk by and take it! My son couldn’t believe it when a visitor started snapping up the stuff he was too busy to pick up and put away. He learned that he needed to take the time to clean up his island if he wanted to make sure nobody took his things.
There’s a lot of buying and selling going on. You need to gather items to sell, to get enough money (or bells as their called in the game) to buy all the fun things in the shops.
This is my favorite benefit- I find it relaxing to just wander around the island, collecting shells and picking weeds. I can sell them all later, so it comes with a benefit. And I have fun decorating the island, planting flowers and making everything look nice.
Of course, I know just like in real life, my son will probably come in like a hurricane later and mess up some of my work, but that’s all just part of life here on Minecraft Island.
There’s so much more to the game then what I’ve covered here! We are still pretty new and learn new things every day. If you play Animal Crossing too, leave a comment! We love new island visitors.