Hanukkah Apps, Videos, and Favorite Tech Gifts

Hanukkah Apps

This post is part of an ongoing series of lifestyle tech as a participant in the Verizon Insider influencer group. I’m thrilled to be part of this group for the past several years and I hope you enjoy my unique perspective on tech for families and entrepreneurs. There are affiliate links in this post, which help me to run this site and buy cool tech I think you’d love to know about.

This year Hanukkah starts on December 24th. This is so exciting! No only do I have something fun to do on December 25th but I get to take advantage of all the sales. And though Hanukkah is a festival holiday and, traditionally, not a big gift-giving holiday, it’s become more and more a celebration that includes gifts. Gifts go well with latkes and pear sauce, right?

What I love about tech is that it allows everyone to get in on the games and fun smartphone apps. Even songs, lots of Hanukkah songs! So I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite Hanukkah tech, from apps to videos to small gifts to things that may qualify as ‘the big gift’ this year.

Fun Hanukkah Apps

Light My Fire (iOS, Andriod) – Created by The Jewish Museum in New York, this app allows you to select one of the many exquisite Hanukkiah from their collection. I love this, especially for college kids and young adults who may not be able to light actual candles where they live. It’s also great for little kids so they can participate in lighting candles. I think it would be a great option for seniors who may not feel comfortable with open flames in their homes or senior living apartments and for parents of kids with special needs that may not be able to light candles in a traditional way.

Menorah (iOS, Android) – This is a nice app, with music by Mo Kiss, that lets you light the candles and sing along. Again, great for those in need of a virtual menorah.

The Chanukkah App (iOS, Android) – With a virtual menorah, some history, and a virtual dreidel game it’s a mobile party! This app features the blessings in 7 languages as well as incorporates social sharing so you can celebrate with your friends all over the world.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah (iOS, Android) – An extension of the 2012 musical album of the same name, this app brings lots of fun holiday music to your smartphone with an epic musical battle between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. Something new and fun to give a tech/music spin to your celebration.

Match 8 Hanukkah Game (iOS, Android) – Tired of playing dreidel? Who isn’t! Here’s a fun little game to distract you from whatever it is you need distracting. This candle lighting game will test your skills at speed lighting. A great app for kids of all abilities to get involved in playing Hanukkah games.

Chai on Chanukkah (iOS) – A top app among Jewish families with special needs kids, everyone gets in on the festival fun!

Hanukkah Match Games (iOS, Android) – A Hanukkah twist on the traditional game of matching tiles. Fun for young kids and helps them make a Jewish connection.

Festive YouTube Videos

The Chanukah SongAdam Sandler Chanukah Song (3:55) – The original by Adam Sandler. In 1994, Adam Sandler wrote a Hanukkah song for SNL’s Weekend Update and it’s become a classic. Before this there really weren’t very many non-traditional Chanukah songs, so this is really the one by which all modern songs are measured. Most are parodies, but The Chanukah Song and it’s subsequent versions are all classics. Sandler’s Chanukah Song Part 4 was released in 2015, at a fundraiser with Judd Apatow. (Image Source: NBC)

Sesame Street: Hanukkah With Veronica Monica (2:43) – if your kids love Sesame Street, this is a fun little video of the Hanukkah story. If you like this one, check out Shalom Sesame.

The Maccabeats – Candlelight – Hanukkah (3:41) – Candlelight is a Jewish parody of Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. With over 11 million views, I find myself singing this all year ’round. Funny thing is that when this song came out BabyGirl had never heard Dynamite and months later when she did she thought it was a parody of Candlelight. True story!

The Maccabeat – All About That Nais (2:55) – Not as popular, but still fun, this parody of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass is a nice little story about latkes, dreidels, bubbies, and presents.

Six13 – Chanukah (Shake It Off) (4:34) – New to the Jewish a Capella scene a few years ago, Six13 puts together a Festival of Lights parody of TayTays Shake It Off. It’s a fun little ditty!

The Story of Hanukkah (2:15) – This is a storybook video of the story of Hanukkah geared to help young readers. Perfect for kids!

Favorite Hanukkah Tech

OK, so there isn’t really such a thing as Hanukkah tech (other than the cool electronic Hanukah menorahs) but when it comes to gift giving, Chanukkah can present more challenges than just how to spell Channukkah. Since Hanukah is a festival holiday, many of us grew up with little emphasis on the gift-giving  part of the celebration. Some small gifts for each night (candy, puzzles, games, etc.) or maybe one “big” gift (a bike, designer jeans), but gift giving has only recently become associated with Hanukkah so it can be difficult to figure out the ‘right’ gift. And that’s why I’m taking the stress out of your holiday and giving you some suggestions for gift options for your Hanukkah-celebrating friends and family. [Note: Chanukah begins on Dec. 24th this year, so waiting for those after-Christmas sales is highly encouraged!]

Bluetooth Trackers – These little devices that attach to your keys, slide into your wallet, fit nicely in your center console of the car, attach to a zipper in your luggage, or connect to your child’s backpack, are awesome gifts. I’ve used the Tile, Tile Slim, and Mynt trackers and all have saved me from what could have been stressful moments. When I switched planes (and airports) to allow for a family to stay together, my Mynt tracker gave me peace of mind when I saw that my luggage had arrived to my destination. The Tile tracker was with me on a three week trip to DC this summer and when I left my luggage with the concierge I could see it was safe. And when I can’t find my phone, these little devices let me get an audible tracker even when my phone is on silent. Retail: about $20 each

Portable Speaker – When we went to Israel, we took the UE Boom with us so we could easily listen to music. We take it with us when we travel because it’s so easy to use and doesn’t take up much space. CycleGuy loves it for taking business calls because it turns his smartphone into a real speakerphone. The UE Boom 2 is shockproof and waterproof, making it even more versatile. The UE Roll is small, lightweight, and so easy to use for those with active lifestyles. These range in price, but are well worth the money!

External Smartphone Battery – Let’s face it, we’re busy people and don’t have time to worry about our smartphone running low. Sure, we can get a car charger or connect at home. But, with music and games, social media, and all the photos, those long-life batteries don’t always sync with our busy lives. I have 7 or 8 different powerbanks, each for different purposes. I have the ultra-thin charger for those times I’m going out and have a small evening bag. My original Mophie is always in my purse and CycleGuy has one in his messenger bag. I have a few larger Limefuel chargers with multiple ports so BabyGirl can always plug in with friends.

Multi-Port USB Charger – Seriously, you need one! Instead of plugging in all over the house or fighting for outlets at a hotel, a multi-port USB charger is a dream. I have three of these and they are the best! We have 7 smartphones, a Nexus, two iPads, wireless headphones, CycleGuy’s bike light, and quite a few other things that need to be charged and we can do it with such ease and convenience. A few brands I like are Anker, this value-priced Sabrent 4-port hub, this Photive 6-port rapid charger, as well as the more permanent option of changing out your outlet to a Top Greener Dual USB wall outlet.

Of course, who wouldn’t love a new phone? Sometimes that’s a very personal decision, but if you’re looking for a smartphone that is unique and has really cool add-on options, check out my experience with the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge either.

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Sara

Make Trick or Treat Time Safer With Life360

Life360 App Halloween

This post is a sponsored conversation about family communication.

It’s that time of year when little ghouls and ghosts take to the streets to plan a few tricks, but mainly to grab lots of treats. For some people Halloween is a big celebration. Not so much for me. But I do buy the good candy!

Each year, though, BabyGirl dresses up and heads out to say hello to friends in the neighborhood. As she gets older, though, she’s more interested in hanging out with her friends than walking alongside mommy. She’s also invited to trick or treat with friends from some of her other activities, in areas we’re not very familiar with. Then there is the bonanza that is Trunk or Treat!

I’m determined not to let my apprehensions about Halloween become her issue so when Life360 asked me to share how I use their app it only seemed to make sense. It’s an app I’ve been using for quite awhile, but mainly as a way to stay connected with some of my online friends. It wasn’t until we were at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party when I realized Life360 could be the perfect way to keep my family connected without relying solely on text messages.

I’ve written about Life360 as way to stay connected with your tween or teen in case of an emergency. So it makes total sense that Halloween and the nighttime festivities would be the perfect time to create a Life360 circle. How could you use this family communication app for Halloween?

Life360 Logo

4 Ways To Take The Trick Out Of Your Trick or Treat with Life360

1. Divide and Conquer – Instead of relying on back and forth texts of “Where are you?”, families can split up but still see where each other are located. This is especially great if the kids are going out with a sitter or grandparents. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what street you are – are we two streets over or three? – just check-in and others in your circle will know where you are.Life360 CheckIn

2. Teen New Drivers – What good is letting the teen get a driver’s license if we have to drive them everywhere? With Life360 you set up a Place location, and rather than the teen having to check in with mom or dad (which you know is totally not cool) once they get to the Halloween party you’ll get a notification. When they leave the party you’ll know that too. No need to text and drive because they forgot to let mom and dad know they’re on their way home. Safety times a bazillion!

3. Increased Independence – You got the kid a smartphone, but what good is it if they’re too cool to send mom or dad a text. (As if they’d actually call!) Having the Life360 app on their phone kids can check-in when they get where they’re going. No need to text mom or dad while their friends are looking. Or, gasp, risk a text from mom popping up while you’re trying to be cool in front of that cute guy or girl. Instead, communication within the app is more private and secure. And, kids are more likely to check in or let you know if there is an issue when they can do so without risk of being called-out by their friends.

Life360 Messages

4. Block Party – Teens and young adults have more opportunities now to attend large-scale parties for Halloween. Since Life360 is about keeping in contact, the app is flexible and allows groups of young people to stay connected. No need to hang out waiting for everyone to show up, just use the app and put everyone in a circle so you get notified when they arrive. Again, no need to text them 87 times because they’re driving and aren’t answering their phone. Let technology work for you!

I wish I had used the app more when we were in Florida. It would have been easier than texting. I had been using it more for business than for family communication and I was totally missing out on how amazing the app really is. I love the safety features built-in to the app that would allow BabyGirl to hit PANIC if she got separated and flustered. I really like that she can just check in and I know she’s OK. It’s tough being an only child when it comes to learning about independence. While she’s used to doing a lot of things on her own, sometimes it’s me who needs the push to let her try her wings.

About Life360

With users in over 200 countries, Life360 is connecting families near and far. Backed by $76 million in venture funding, the app has grown more than 400% over the past year to become the world’s largest network for family communication. Whether it’s dinner plans, car pool, or just making sure the kids got home safely from school, Life360 gives families simplified communication and peace of mind right at their fingertips.

Download the FREE app for iPhoneAndroid, or Windowsphone.

If you’re on social media, you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card from Life360 by sharing a photo of your costume. Tag your photos #Scare360 and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

On Instagram, follow @Life360app and tag your costume photos with our handle and #Scare360.

On Facebook, share your photos on Life360’s wall and tag them #Scare360.

On Twitter, follow @Life360 and tag them and the photo with #Scare360.

Note: Image information obscured for privacy.

Sara

3 Stargazing Apps For Every Smartphone

VZW DisclosureStargazing App

Summer is a time to relax and put the schedule aside. It doesn’t always work that way, though. And at the end of the day your mind goes over the 872 things you did that day and the odometer on the car that seems to spin like you’re looking for the $1.00 space at The Price Is Right showcase. And then night falls. And the quiet settles in and you’re thinking of heading outside to just sit and look at the stars.

Here in Phoenix, being out during the day is the last thing we want to do in the summer. We all do our best to manage it, but it’s just the reality here. Come nightfall though, we’re ready to go. Even though it doesn’t get dark until well after many kids’ bed time, sometimes you just need to stay up late and look up at the sky. With days upon days of cloudless skies and no school the next day, why not see what’s going on up in the dark sky?

Having spent time with professional stargazers and their expensive equipment, it spoils you. But we all can’t run out and buy a $10,000 telescope. What we can do, though, is download a few apps, look up at the stars and see what people have been look at for thousands of years.

1. Star Chart

What’s better than point and go when it comes to looking at stars that look like a bunch of little white dots in the sky? This augmented reality app is a top educational resource and will wow kids and adults alike. You can look at the sky visible to you or anywhere in the world as you turn your phone.

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone

2. Sky Map

Another “point and look” app, Sky Map has over 11,000 star points and can pinpoint your location using GPS. While this app has the same name on all three mobile platforms, each is made by a different developer. Nonetheless, it’s a top app that works anywhere in the world day or night.

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone

3. ISS Locator

Have you ever seen the International Space Station zip by? During an astronomy lesson I chaperoned for my daughter’s class we not only got to see the ISS fly by, but it was releasing a cargo pack and we should see that trailing behind as well. No fancy equipment was needed to see these. If you knew what you were looking for. Luckily, there are apps for all mobile platforms that will help you spot it no matter where you are in the world. Depending on where you live you may be able to see the ISS several times a week!

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone | Web

So, get your phone, download these apps, and head outside after the sun goes down and re-live those times at camp when you’d stare up at the sky and wonder if the man in the moon really existed. Doesn’t matter if you have kids, if you’re a kid at heart, or just love checking out what’s up there in the dark of night these apps will surely make you popular at home or even at those summer evening garden parties.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Insider team. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

5 Apps Everyone Should Have That Aren’t The Same 5 Everyone Suggests

 Best Apps for Android

Being on the go doesn’t mean being stuck with nothing to do. Whether it’s waiting in the school pick-up line or finding a way to be productive while waiting at karate our mobile devices are a portal into amazing content. And while BabyGirl loves to read and there’s always an assortment of books in the car (or mobile library as I’ve often referred to it), sometimes she wants to do something different. Few parents hear the constant “Are we there yet?”. Instead, it’s more like “We’re here already?”.

Because I have both iOS and Android devices I’m always looking for apps that I can have on both types of devices. And while I have pages of apps, I like to make sure I have a variety of apps. Some of these I’ve been using for awhile, while others are newer to me since they’re available only for Android. Regardless, these are …

5 Apps Everyone Should Have

Google Sky Map

Google sky app

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: Google

It’s a shame Google Sky Map is only available for Android because this is a super cool app. That it’s available in over a dozen languages is pretty amazing, too. The app uses several of your phone’s built-in features to show you what’s in the sky. It doesn’t have to be dark either! My daughter loves using this app while we’re driving to see how the sky changes as we move. It’s a great teaching tool for everyone. Most of us wonder what’s up there but never had the chance to really learn about the galaxy. Now we can! Just be aware that Google Sky Map is different from Google Sky.

Cost: Free
Devices: Android Only

TED Talks

TED Talks app

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: TED.com

If you’re not familiar with TED Talks, this may be your first time on the internet and I thank you for coming to my site. TED Talks are one of the greatest free resources on the internet. Experts in their field have been recorded talking about things they’re passionate about, and we get to be there! With thousands of talks, this app will help you pass time and feed your brain at the same time. No more being tethered to a computer, the TED app brings these brilliant minds to anyone with an iOS or Android mobile device. When I’m doing chores around the house, I’ll load up a TEDTalk to help pass the time. One of my favorite things about TED Talks is that they’re often no longer than 20 minutes. So while I often watch one or two before I go to bed, having the app allows me to listen or watch no matter where I am.

Cost: Free
Devices: iOS and Android

ISSLive!

NASA Apps

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: NASA

There are people living up in space! And we get to learn from them. This is a fun app for kids (and adults) who are interested in what’s going on at the International Space Station (ISS). View live streaming data from the ISS as well as check out 3D virtual tours of Mission Control Center (MCC). An interactive educational experience, it’s a great way to learn about science, technology, and math and how they come together with space exploration.

Cost: Free
Devices: iOS and Android

Snapseed

Snapseed

 

 

 

 

Image source: Google

One of my favorite photo editing apps, Snapseed was acquired by Google in September 2012. I’ve had this app on my iPhone since 2011 when I paid $4.99 for it.  It’s now FREE, but at $5 it was totally worth it. It allows professional-type photo editing on-the-go. It’s really easy to use, so easy that when she was 7 BabyGirl figured out how to use it to improve her photos.

Cost: FREE
Devices: iOS and Android

Boomerang

Email Scheduling App

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: Baydin

It was probably some time in 2009 when I downloaded the Gmail add-on that was then known as Boomerang It. The idea of scheduling an email for delivery later may not be for everyone. But if you need to reply to someone but you know they won’t be checking email and yours will likely be one of many, being able to send it at a more appropriate time is a cool option. There are many reasons for not sending an email at the time you write it, so why not download Boomerang for your desktop as well as the app. It’s really easy to use and you’ll find you use it more than you thought.

Cost: Free (although if you need more than 10 messages per month there is a fee)
Devices: Android Only

Hope you try these out, if you haven’t already. I avoided suggesting apps that most people would already have. I use these apps almost every day to be more productive or to pass time and feed my brain.

What cool apps would you add?

Disclosure: Verizon Wireless provided me with my Samsung Galaxy S4. This is not a sponsored post and no compensation was provided for this post. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third-party. I do, however, have a business relationship with Verizon Wireless and thus I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara