Azat Or: Hamazkayin has created children’s game apps. How many games? How can they be played?
Arin Kalousdian, Children’s Educational Program Manager for Hamazkayin: The children’s games division of Hamazkayin has created children’s educational games for the iOS and Android platforms. The games are aimed at children ages 3 to 5. They are in Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian.
Three free apps are in operational use. “Kuyneru Ashkharh” (The world of colors), “Tseveru Ashkharh” (The world of shapes) and “Kireru ashkharh” (The world of letters). The developers were guided by contemporary pedagogical principles. The following were considered:
- developing the child’s language abilities
- developing the child’s reasoning skills, memory, and focus
- developing the child’s imagination and creativity
- developing the child’s desire to explore
- awakening the child’s interest in music
Azat Or: What is the purpose of the program?
Kalousdian: The program is purely educational; without pressure or obligation, playing, the child internalizes colors, shapes, and letters, learning new Armenian words.
Play is one of the best ways of teaching Armenian because whatever the child learns playing, she or he accepts with pleasure.
The heroes of all these games are children. The children learn with greater pleasure because their peers accompany them.
The main characters and Lala and Ara. They accompany the players, give them hints, and teach them through play.
Lala and Ara are curious and alert. They encourage the player, give tips, and provide help when help is needed.
The games have clear rules. The directions are brief and given in simple sentences so the children can follow them with ease.
When the player answers correctly, she or he is given encouragement. When there’s a misstep, the player is encouraged to try again.
Throughout the game, the children are independent. They click around on their own, they try things, they find thing, they learn, they are evaluated and they evaluate themselves.
The program helps children teach themselves.
The games are varied and have a rich vocabulary.
Listening and trying, the children overcome language problems. They try to understand instructions given in Armenian, and follow them. Later, they try to repeat the instructions.
The games develop the children’s senses of hearing, sight, and touch.
Children learn about the world around them through their senses.
Most actions are accomplished by fingertip. For example, the fingertip dips into the virtual paint to paint the picture.
To encourage the children and press them ahead, there’s always feedback. Every time a child finishes a game, Ara or Lala says, “Abris!” If a child fails to complete the game, Ara or Lala says, “Try again.”
Azat Or: Do you have any other initiatives alongside the game apps?
Kalousdian: Yes. Listening to the pedagogues, we have created various objects and toys (such as wallpapers, stickers, t-shirts, jackets, backpacks, pencil cases, dolls, pillows, and the like). Lala and Ara stickers are on all the objects and when the children use them, Lala and Ara are always with them. Foreign heroes are replaced with Armenian ones.
Azat Or: Where do you sell these objects?
Kalousdian: We have a website http://www.lalanouaran.com as well as a presence on the social media sites Facebook and Instragram and it’s possible to order through any of these. In every community, the Hamazkayin board and community center can provide the objects directly or order them.
The Western-Armenian-speaking Lala and Ara dolls have been a hit with the kids. They are made in Yerevan, at the Mankan factory.
Azat Or: What are your plans for the future?
Kalousdian: Before answering this question, I must confess that the world of children is huge and very few Armenian games and toys are out there. So Hamazkayin decided to enter this arena and generate new environments for children. Yes, we have some plans—stories appropriate for children, with Lala and Ara as the heroes; we will publish books and videos, with music, through our YouTube channel. We have other plans too, which will have to come as a surprise to our beloved children.
Azat Or: Do you have anything to add?
Kalousdian: Yes, in conjunction with a private initiative, we recently gave room on our website to “Cluster of Tales” (Voghguyz me Badmvadzk), which features readings of stories in Armenian. Stories are excerpted from Levon Shant’s “Mangagan Ashkharh” series. Cluster’s mission is to bring joy to children and teens through pleasant storytelling, and to create an interest in reading and Armenian books. https://www.lalanouaran.com/