Hebrew Play House/Milk and Honey Challenge/My Israeli Atlas. (educational software) (Evaluation)
by Carol Holzberg
A traditional Hebrew form of study in which two students learn by asking each other questions, haver has worked for centuries. Tekoa, publisher of Havruta: A Jewish Encyclopedia, continues this tradition of study by substituting your computer for a study partner.
The Havruta software series consists of several interactive lessons on Jewish life and culture, Israel, Hebrew language, Jewish history, and holidays. Each package offers lessons, games, and quizzes. Applications typically have file editors to enable parents and teachers to customize exercises for individual students. The Hebrew language programs require no special hardware.
HebrewPlay House teaches basic Hebrew vocabulary for items found in and around a typical home. Youngsters play several games, and in the process they learn to recognize and spell Hebrew words for furniture, pets, and kitchen utensils. Activities include constructing images with clip art objects, entering Hebrew names for pictures (the program comes with a Hebrew keyboard chart), reconstructing an illustration by positioning its missing parts, and matching an object with its Hebrew name. Youngsters must be able to read Hebrew without vowels in order to play.
In another package--Milk and Honey Challenge--children (ages 10 and up) meet Israel and its people with help from 15 prepared study units. Topics include geography, history, culture, current events, famous personalities, Hebrew vocabulary (using transliterated English), and the Diaspora. A built-in editor lets teachers and parents prepare customized study materials.
The fast-paced activities encourage youngsters to memorize a series of facts. For example, Order it requires players to arrange events in correct chronological order, while Match It challenges contestants to link a specific item with its counterpart on a list. If players do not complete an activity before time runs out, the game starts over, and drill continues at a slower pace. In Milk and Honey's hangmanlike game called The Menorah (an eight-branch candelabrum), players must answer a question correctly before all eight candles burn out. The contestant with the most candles left at the end of the game wins.
Lots of fun, Milk and Honey Challenge helps kids learn by playing seven entertaining games. These activities motivate youngsters to work through lessons.
My Israeli Atlas, the final program reviewed, encourages people to visit Israel by computer. This enjoyable electronic geography package includes four colorful maps, several clip art images, and eight interactive games. it features 28 prepared study units organized into six major subject areas: Israel (general), Northern Part, Samaria (North Judea), Judea and Negev, Jerusalem Sites, and Places to Visit. Individual lessons focus on important cities and resort towns, historical sites, the old city of Jerusalem, biblical origins, and Israel's neighbors. Parents and teachers can create new lessons using the program's built-in lesson editor.
Youngster select a unit for study and then choose an activity from the drill menu. Lively games let students become more familiar with the country's geography, important places, and English names for Hebrew locations. Challengers need not know Hebrew to play. My Israeli Atlas even includes a road map of modern Israel.
Don't let the early copyright dates of this series mislead you; Tekoa's Judaic computer encyclopedia still provides an imaginative supplement to conventional Jewish studies textbooks. While some users might find the CGA graphics a bit disappointing, Havruta's entertaining activities make it fun to learn difficult concepts.