Getting started in Minecraft


by Becky Palmer-Scott, Special Ed Tech editor

The easiest way to play Minecraft for free is to download a demo version at It will last for 100 minutes, or five game ‘days’ (the game cycles through day and night). You can reset the demo repeatedly, though you start off with nothing each time you restart.

The object of the demo version is to build shelter and other items, and get food to survive. By default, your food gets depleted, you get attacked by monsters at night, and if you die, you lose your tools. However, you can make play easier by changing Options…Difficulty on the game menu. (Press the ESC key to see the game menu.) Clicking on Achievements in the game menu shows what you’re supposed to do.

To open the treasure box, grab a torch and hold the mouse button down on the box until it bursts open.

To open the treasure box, grab a torch and hold the mouse button down on the box until it bursts open.

When you start the Minecraft demo, you will be placed on a hilly island. You move using the W, A, S, and D keys, look around by moving the mouse, and jump using the
spacebar. Clicking the left mouse button smashes things or uses what you are holding.

Near the starting point is a treasure box. Click on a torch near the box and then click down on the box for a bit to burn it open and get a set of tools,which you will use to get wood from trees. You will see the tools displayed below your health bar. Press number keys 1 through 9 to switch between tools. Press E to see the inventory window – you can assemble items in the ‘Crafting’ area. Press the ESC key to exit inventory.

The first task is to build shelter before nightfall by getting wood from trees. You have about 10 minutes of play time before dark sets in. If needed, you can jump into a tree to spend the night, where you can see the moon and stars move and watch the sun come up.

For more details on how to play, see After trying it out, you may find it well worthwhile to buy the game, which costs about $27. This allows more features and more time. You will probably find that some of your students have already purchased the game. A good resource for learning how to use Minecraft in the classroom is

Playing for free

In addition to the demo, there are several other ways to play Minecraft
for free.

However, buying and downloading the game avoids hassle, provides the quickest
response times, and allows full access to bricks and tools which free versions do not.

Minecraft costs about $27 for a single license, or $41 for a server licence from, which allows you server control. Site licenses are significantly
discounted from this.

One Comment
  1. Thanks for the help. I recently caved in to playing the game with my kids, but the problem with this is that all of this tech stuff is beyond me. This helped me understand a bit better

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