Written by Sammy Morhaim
We are proud and excited to bring ‘My Menorah’ to your family. Our very talented team of educators and developers have blended Jewish studies educational principles with traditional values using 3D graphics to bring Chanukah alive.
Here are some concepts that were built into the design of ‘My Menorah’:
Identifying colors before the age of five is not a simple task for children. The child needs to first understand the concept and representation of each color and develop the verbal skills to explain what they are seeing. Parents can teach color recognition by seizing daily opportunities to reinforce color learning. ‘My Menorah‘ app offers the child an opportunity to learn basic color recognition by simple and easy to access gaming within a Chanukah context.
Tip: Reinforce the colors by asking your child ‘What color is my shirt? What color is your shirt?‘ Remember to provide positive feedback when they get it right.
You may ask your child “Can you count to 10?” They will happily count to ten – however, does that mean that your child necessarily understood what numbers mean?
The development of ordinality skills means that your child is able to identify the position of a number within a sequence or order. Cardinality, on the other hand, refers to the child’s ability to distinguish one number from another. There’s no better time to practice ordinality skills than Chanukah, whether actually lighting the menorah with the family or lighting the ‘My Menorah‘ app – Your child can practice the ordinality of numbers and reinforce the concept of sequence and order.
Tip: Lay out candles on the table and ask your child to count them. Each time they are successful add another candle and try again. Try using the candle to then draw in wax the number and colour over with a pen to watch the magic number appear!
Early Language Development Skills
Language acquisition development begins the day the child is born. In order for children to develop appropriate literacy skills, they will need to have multiple experiences and interactions which will enable them to eventually develop reading and writing skills. In the digital age, it is even more important that as parents we use language and speech. When it comes to learning a second language, research has shown that in the first 3-4 years of life, children have a natural ability to learn a new language. If the primary learning of a child is experiential and fun, this will serve as positive reinforcement when learning a new language at a young age. The ‘My Menorah‘ app offers a variety of Hebrew language skill building opportunities, within a gaming environment so your child will enhance their Jewish studies and learn subliminally through songs, games and fun!
Tip: Count in Hebrew and English along with the app whilst lighting the digital candles. When you light your real Chanukah candles, count together in English and Hebrew. Try counting the number of digital presents that your child wins in the candle game in Hebrew and English. Do the same thing but with colors also.
Receiving Gifts/Saying Thank You
When young children receive gifts, their first inclination will not be to acknowledge the giver but to quickly judge if the gift meets their expectations or not. In order to instill in young children the habit of saying thank you, they need to go through a process of training. Parents need to constantly remind their children about saying thank you and acknowledging what others do for them. Parents do have to be careful that they are not becoming a burden on their young children applying ongoing pressure to be thankful. This needs to be done in a patient and soft manner. Children primarily follow by example so it’s incumbent on the parents to serve as role models and show their children methods of positive behavior for them to emulate. In ‘My Menorah‘ the child receives virtual “gifts” as they open them they have different reactions, parents can seize these opportunities to practice with their children the art of saying thank you.
The early hand movements of babies are reflexive in nature. As a baby grows they begin to set milestones in their hand-eye coordination from simply grabbing an object to passing it from one hand to the other. Developing hand-eye coordination can be compared to sports, the more the child trains the further they develop their skills.
Parents and teachers play a significant role in this process by providing children with the appropriate age level toys and objects that will enable the children to continuously develop motor abilities in hand-eye coordination. In ‘My Menorah‘ the child has to be able to spin the dreidel, choose the candle and light the menorah – these are all excellent skill building opportunities to further enhance hand-eye coordination and their Jewish studies!
Tip: When getting your child dressed in the morning – let them be in charge of the buttons, snaps or zippers…it’s these small everyday activities that will work wonders on their motor skills.
Building early numerical skills are strongly emphasized in early childhood years. Research has also shown that early numerical skill building is critical to future numerical success. Parents play an integral role in this process through both encouraging numerical learning and also identifying early challenges that a child may face with numerical literacy. There are many categories in which parents can interact with their children to build numerical skills – through learning about time, measuring and calculating and understanding shapes and patterns. In the early childhood stages, gamifying plays an important role in the child’s numerical skill building as it’s both experiential and also creates a positive association for the child with numbers. In ‘My Menorah‘ lighting a Chanukah candle is all about numbers, in a user-friendly gaming context the child can easily learn basic numeracy skills.
Tip – Reinforce the learning by asking your child – “How many candles are you lighting?” As they light a candle, ask your child -“How many candles have you lit?” and “How many candles do you have left to light?” Count together and start the basic concepts of numeracy.
Following instructions: How to Light Chanukah Candles
Following basic instructions in early childhood is vital for a child’s ability to perform a task till completion. Young children are heavily dependent on adult guidance and instruction whether playing in the park or learning how to get dressed in the morning. Beyond the gaming aspect, the ‘My Menorah‘ app enhances children’s Jewish studies by creating an interaction between a voice providing instruction and the child. The child learns to follow basic instructions from spinning a dreidel to lighting the Menorah and is also expected to follow through with the instructions.
Tip: Before the family lights the candles, initiate a game – “Who remembers the candle game? Which direction do we light from?” The person who guessed correctly gets to hold the shamash first.
PS. A candle called the Shamash is used to light the candles from the left to right.
The integration of music in early childhood development is essential for instilling within the child a positive and safe family experience.
Music has proven to calm a baby when feeling a little fussy and is commonly used in early childhood centers as a tool for communicating proper social behaviors. The ‘My Menorah‘ app places a strong focus on music as an integral part of the Chanukah experience. The child can learn the Chanukah songs and blessings on their own while playing with the app or their parents can utilize the app to engage the child in music and providing a positive holiday experience.
Tip: Chanukah is an excellent opportunity to integrate music. Following the lighting of the menorah turn on child-oriented Chanukah songs and simply dance with your children. (before the presents, treats etc..) This will create for the child a positive association with Chanukah as well as strengthening quality family time.
Happy Chanukah from the Jewish Interactive Team!
Sammy Morhaim is an innovative and energetic Jewish educator; his passion is in keeping Judaism relevant and he often lectures on the subject. He is an expert in combining educational pedagogy with technology and has developed many digital games for Jewish learning. He has had practical experience implementing technology in his classroom and in many other school settings. Sammy has two BA degrees, in Humanities and Education respectively, and he is a Qualified Teacher. Sammy studied in Yeshivot Ohr Sameach, Kerem B’Yavneh and Aish HaTorah.