Top 6 Ways to Use Pokémon Go in Jewish Education

July 20, 2016

Source: DJLN - DigitalJLearning Network


Whether you love it or hate it, your students are -- and will be -- playing Pokémon Go, a location-based augmented reality mobile game. Instead of seeing the game as a further distraction, why not see it as an opportunity to bring Jewish education to life in the eyes of a teen? Here are 6 ways you can use the game to your creative advantage!

  • Create a Jewish-themed Pokémon Go by linking each Pokémon to a Jewish symbol or task.
    Deborah Blausten, Student Rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue in London, created puns for Pokémon characters associated with specific Jewish tasks. Students completed a task using the gameplay modes from Pokémon of dice-rolling, training, etc.
  • Design a Pokémon based on your favorite Jewish historical figure or hero.
    Include a character description or fact file to identify strengths and weaknesses. Here's a great example using Saul Bellow's Herzog, reimagined as a Pokémon.
  • Teach Kashrut by asking students to hypothesize about which Pokémon may or may not be kosher.
    It may sound funny to think of Pokémon this way, but it could be a creative way to learn about Kashrut! Someone has already devoted time to identifying which Pokemon are kosher! Students could also study up on what makes an animal kosher and then try and identify those features in various Pokémon to back up their classifications.
  • Get students outside exploring nature, and teach about Heschel's concept of radical amazement: "to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted."
    Finding a Pokémon can help kids discover elements of nature that they otherwise would not have come across or noticed. Once they have captured their Pokémon, what else can they “capture” and identify around them? What Jewish prayer can be used to express Hakarat ha’Tov (gratitude) and amazement?
  • Capture and learn the Jewish middot.
    Dr. Karen Reiss Medwed, Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University, suggested “capturing [the individual Pokémon] as middot and then enacting them to 'power up' while navigating the real world situations afforded.” A Making Mensches periodic table by Avi Orlow can be used as a resource.
  • Have a caption contest or create a digital story using screenshots of Pokémon in your synagogue or at Jewish landmarks in your neighborhood.
    Ask students to identify the sites, the Pokémon, and why the characters might have been visiting a particular site.

This post was inspired by the educators participating in a thread on the JEDLAB Facebook group. 

Updated: Jul. 27, 2016