Ramadan is either 29 or 30 days long depending on the moon. Doing something consistently for 30 days can go a long way towards building a habit.
I’ve been toying with the idea of a Ramadan Calendar for our family. Some people see this as a countdown to Eid and start their calendar backwards (30, 29, 28…) but for us, Eid is just the icing on the cake. Ramadan is remarkable on its own.
Ramadan Calendars can take many forms and have many purposes. Often, it has one place dedicated to each day of Ramadan (30 days). Of course, there’s a typical large chart with pockets, but one can also fashion a “calendar” out of balloons or baby food jars for example. It depends on what will work well with the ages of children in your families as well as how much time and creative talent you (and your children) have.
As for the purpose of the Ramadan Calendar, it works just as any calendar does; it visually signals the passing of a day. In some families, it is used to make Ramadan more fun and each day has a goodie for the child – candy, stickers, little toys and so on. In other families, there may be 30 acts of kindness (30 different nice things that the child will complete during the month). The calendar could also be learning learning-based and may contain 30 different provocations related to the Quran and Sunnah, that the children can study together as a family, and ideally present what they have learned at iftaar time.
For our family, I’ve decided to do create a simple calendar, one with small pockets that can be accessed by little hands, and one that is durable enough to be used for a few more Ramadans and other activities I may choose to use it for. In terms of content, our calendar will have a variety of things to promote learning and action in different domains. These activities are geared towards my 18 month old and where she is at in her development, but please modify the content based on the interests, abilities, and needs of your own children and family. You can also leave requests for specific ideas in the comments section.
Some of the items in H’s calendar (H stands for my daughter):
- Date – Since she will be asleep during sahoor (3:45 am) at iftaar (10:00 pm), she can contribute to our fasting by counting out dates and leaving them in a bowl for us to enjoy. InshaAllah this will be an ongoing task for her to practice during Ramadan.
- Toy Camel Figurine – Lately, she has been getting very excited by camels. H used to think that camels were horses, but since her phopoo (aunt) explained to her that camels have humps, she’s been pointing them out. I will tell her the story of how the first mosque in Madina was established (it was the place where the Prophet peace be upon him’s camel decided to rest after his migration to Madina)
- Flower – we will bring some flowers for our new neighbours since H is always very eager to visit “Auntie” and “Onko”
- Plastic Banana – I will let H slice a banana with a plastic knife and help me make a fruit salad or banana milkshake for iftaar
- Mirror – We will learn the du’a to be recited when one looks in the mirror since this is something she really enjoys doing these days (*I do not expect her to recite the du’a yet but she will become familiar with it by hearing it repeated and in the process, I will also learn it and start reciting it insha’Allah)
- “Alhamdulillah I have good adaab” badge – We are working on saying “please” and “thank you”. I will use this badge to reinforce those behaviours. *This badge along with others are available for sale through Discovery Dome.
- Small fork – H loves to help me unload the dishwasher. On this day, I will make an explicit connection for her (“Mommy feels happy when you help her. Allah feels happy when you help people too. Thank you H. I love you.”)
- While H is too young now, I look forward to the day when we have a bigger family and come up with content for the calendar together. Then, we can check the pocket in the morning at sahoor, and “report back” to the family before iftaar.
Some Tips for Success
- Think about why you want to create this calendar: is it the process of actually spending time making it together, the activities/rewards within the calendar, using it as a decoration or maybe a combination of the above? This rationale will help you decide how to divide your time and what calendar type best suits your needs.
- Plan first: Before you start physically putting your calendar together, put together a list of what you want it to include.
- Set a budget: You can be as frugal or as lavish as you’d like to create this calendar. To give you an idea, I used a foam board from the dollar store ($1.25) because it is thicker than Bristol board and felt sheets (also from the dollar store) to create simple pockets that I hot glued to the board. Some of the content for the calendar was purchased while other things were repurposed from what we already have.
- Let the children take charge: let them help decorate and even generate content (especially if you have multiple children), unless of course you are planning on surprising them with the calendar.
- Use it to bring the family together: Pick a consistent time each day to visit the calendar and invite discussion and ideas. As I mentioned earlier, in the future (when my children are old enough to fast), I will have it set up at sahoor and so if the content for that day is “Do something kind for a neighbour”, each person in the family will be responsible for doing something individually, and we will share what we did at iftaar time. Similarly, if the topic is “what is an ayah from the Quran that you connected with today?” there can be sharing and discussion around this between Asr and Maghrib.
- Remember that YOU have the most to benefit: While it may seem time-consuming or even frivolous, by taking time out of your busy life to think ahead and prepare a Ramadan calendar, you will directly benefit in the following ways:
- As you research what to include, you will also learn.
- Any good habits or manners that are formed by your children as a result of learning done through this process will be attributed back to you and be a source of sadaqah jaariyah.
- The time that you spend with your family while preparing/participating in this will inshaAllah benefit your social, emotional and mental health.