Ramadan 2019- Post #4: Week 2 Recap

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Day 8: 

  • H started memorizing surah falaq. She worked on the first two ayaat.
  • For Arabic today, we played Arabic Bingo, an activity we found in the “Allah to Z Activity Book”. The kids also wanted to play one round of the matching card game.
  • Given the interest in nature and our focus on finding bugs during Sunday’s Urban Wild Nature Program along with H’s themes at school this month, I thought it would be a good time to incorporate some more books about bugs and trees. We briefly looked at some pages about different types of trees and leaves and settled on this page, which talked about different animals that trees house and nourish. I also showed them the page about counting rings on a tree to determine its age (something I had told H about the day before). We practiced by counting rings on a tree cookie magnet we have. I alluded to the idea of sadaqah jaariyah and this is something we will explore further in a future circle.

 

Day 9:

  • H memorized the third verse of surah falaq.
  • We read “My First Ramadan” by Karen Katz. I told the kids a story about my first camel ride as a child visiting Pakistan.
  • Activity: We smelled and appreciated some beautiful flowers that we were planning on giving to some special people this week. The kids each made a card for the recipient of their flowers. It was great to see how excited Y was about making the card and how he attempted to demonstrate his understanding of the process of giving the card to someone else. H brought her flowers to give to the janitor at her school the following day and Y reminded me he would give his flowers to the library on Thursday. I was the one who picked the recipients of the flowers (perhaps I will expand on why in a future post).

 

Day 10:

  • H worked on the fourth ayah of surah falaq.
  • To practice Arabic, I had H pull an Arabic block out of the bag. She would identify the letter and then Y was tasked with using the block to build a tower. I constantly have to come up with ways to involve Y and modify any activities so that he also has a meaningful (but developmentally appropriate) experience.
  • Craft: We made paper chains today. H cut out a few strips and then I cut out the rest. She developed a pattern and would ask Y for the next colour. His job was to add glue to the strip and her job was to make links for the chain. Alhamdulilah I love when they are able to work together on things. H did this two years ago so it’s so meaningful for me to reflect on what’s changed since then. At the time, I remember Y, who was just a few weeks old, was laying on the couch while I helped H.

Day 11: We didn’t do a circle today. I ran out of time and energy. On a positive note, it was Y’s second birthday alhamdulillah. I can’t believe it’s been two years with this kid already. His speech has taken off in the past few days. I say this as he yells “mo hoomus and nun plis” (More hummus and naan please) from the kitchen.

Day 12: H was off of school today so the kids had some time to play at home. It was interesting to see how the themes of their play are influenced by our current reality. They were pretending to eat suhoor and iftaar, pray, read Quran and of course save the day in their superhero personas.

  • H memorized the last ayah of surah falaq.
  • We played the matching card game as per the children’s request. I was super surprised when Y recognized “zwa” as I’m making no formal effort to teach him the alphabet in any language. I also used the cards as flashcards in a fast game to identify which letters H still gets confused.
  • Since it was Friday, we read a book called “It’s Jummah!” by 2curioushearts. It’s a really simple board book that Y enjoyed as he tried to copy some of the actions. While young children are by no means required to know the etiquettes at such a young age, I think reading the book on Fridays is a lovely little tradition to establish with young children. I’ve had this book since December but haven’t shared it with the kids until now. **I just checked out their website and the books are only $5cdn!!
  • We also did page out of a fantastic activity book by Ruqaya’s Bookshelf called “The Adventures of Malik and Ameerah.” The page we did was related to healthy eating since that’s something H has been talking about since she is exploring it at school right now.
  • We did the sunnan mentioned in the board book like bathing, cutting nails, wearing nice clothes etc. I was planning on taking H to the mosque for jummah but something came up so we planned to go as a family for asr instead. H expressed that she just didn’t want to go so we let it be. I took the kids to a new park instead.

 

Day 13: We did the learning circle at my inlaws’ place today. It was late so I shortened it.

  • We started Surah fatihah and worked on the first three ayaat.
  • Activity: We read the book “Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.” After reading the book, I fanned out some paint samples and had the kids pick a card without looking. They had to find something in the house that was the same colour as the sample. While I designed this activity more for Y (he just turned 2), H really enjoyed it as well.

 

Day 14: We were at my inlaws’ again but since it was earlier in the day, we were able to do the full circle.

  • We reviewed the first 4 verses of Surah fatihah.
  • We played Arabic bingo. We used small ripped-up pieces of paper as our bingo markers since I didn’t bring anything with me.
  • We talked about gratitude and used the activity book to record a list of things we are grateful for. I appreciated hearing H’s rationale, for example “The big tree in our backyard to climb.” I was also touched to see that both of my children included their sibling in their list of things to be grateful for ❤ Since I believe that learning should be an integrated approach, I love how this experience allowed not only for reflection and gratitude, but also literacy, discussion and classifying information- I suggested that H put stars next to Y’s answers. She took the liberty of putting clouds next to my answers. Then, H started colouring in a thank you card on the adjacent page.
  • Activity: when I was consolidating all of my past Ramadan posts before starting this series, I came across one of the first activities I did with H when she was just 18 months old- it was a dua bucket (or prayer pail) and I felt sad that I hadn’t thought of doing anything similar for Y, who was turning 2 shortly. I decided I wanted to have him create a prayer bucket too, which at his age will essentially just be a collection of photos representing things he likes. The goal is to go through the bucket every day (I’m thinking before nap) so we can practicing thanking God for our blessings. This is what the process looked like for H when she was a toddler. For Y, I will just refer to it as his thank you bucket. I started with Y by allowing him to pick out the style of alphabet stickers he wanted to use to spell his name on the bucket. Then, I had the kids go through flyers to find things they were thankful for. They are also able to draw items or include photos. We may modge podge some photos onto rocks or lids for a more tactile experience or if H chooses, she can write the names of things onto popsicle sticks. The prayer buckets are personally very meaningful for me because we did do this with H as her speech was emerging and alhamdulillah, it became a habit, even as she outgrew the bucket. Every night before bed, she continues to thank God for specific things from her day.
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Ramadan 2019: Post #3 – Week 1 recap

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Alhamdulillah our learning circles are going well. H has told me many times she enjoys doing them and Y pops in and out depending on what we are doing. On the 3rd day of Ramadan (after only two circles), H brought home this picture that she drew at school of us having our learning circle and learning Quran (she told me her favourite part is memorizing surahs and the fun surprise).

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This is what our learning circles included this week:

Day 1 (we were at my in-laws but alhamdulillah still managed to do the circle):

  • Memorized the first 2 verses of surah ikhlaas. While H is familiar with a few different surahs, we haven’t formally taught her any until now. I am focusing on pronunciation and tajweed.
  • Practiced the Arabic alphabet in a qaida that my husband bought from India. Maybe it’s because of my Pakistani background, but I do prefer the Pakistani ones. The paper pages are non-glossy, making them easier to mark up and they seem to progress through the level of difficulty at a slower rate. I saw some at a meat/grocery store last week so plan to buy it the next time I’m in the area.
  • Learned about the sunnan around meeting Muslims – I’ve been thinking about how to introduce the importance of greeting others to H given her more reserved temperament around adults she is unfamiliar with.
  • Craft: stained-glass shapes – I did this with H two years ago and really loved how it turned out. I decided to do it again this year and open it up to both kids. Once again, I just free-handed the cutouts instead of using a stencil. The children really enjoyed doing this and I was surprised by how engaged Y was! He’s taken such pride in his art which is now hanging on the window in our home and is really trying to string words together to communicate what happened…”teetee star. Glue…more glue…more glue. Press! Dadi house. Aapi moon.”

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Day 2:

  • Memorized the 3rd verse of surah ikhlaas
  • Practiced the Arabic alphabet through a poster
  • Learned about some sunnan regarding eating
  • Activity: made stuffed dates – we looked at this terrific book and used cream cheese and mini chocolate chips (nut allergies). Special thanks and duahs for my Mushtaq Mamoo who ordered, shipped and ultimately gifted me this book along with its companion from the States back in 2014 because it wasn’t available in Canada)

Day 3:

  • Memorized the 4th verse of surah ikhlaas; added her first sticker to Juz Amma Tree Chart
  • Practiced the Arabic alphabet through a poster; I involved Y by asking him to point to letters that H then had to identify
  • Learned about some sunnan regarding drinking and then gave the children each a cup of water to help reinforce the lesson
  • Activity: H coloured in a Ramadan card she was gifted by her aunt; I gave Y a colouring sheet from a Ramadan colouring book my husband printed off for H last year

Day 4: H came home from school very tired. I offered rescheduling the circle but she insisted on continuing. Given her state, I shortened my plans.

  • We discussed the meaning of surah ikhlaas. There were a lot of (challenging) questions and I was reminded that it’s hard for children to grasp abstract concepts until around the age of 7.
  • Practiced the Arabic alphabet with a memory matching game. I made these cards using stickers, construction paper and then laminating them. Although it was a little tedious and time-consuming to make these, I was motivated by the potential hassanat of my kids learning it from me and inshaAllah passing it on to their own families. Besides, I was able to listen to a live stream of tarweeh from the East coast while I put them together. Playing a memory matching game with all 28 letters was taking a long time so I adapted the game. The children really enjoyed it and asked to play it again tomorrow.
  • Activity: I shared my family’s Ramadan tradition of making and drinking Rooh-Afza. I ultimately decided to put aside my reservations around the red food colour and sugar-laced syrup in the name of tradition. I did add a smaller quantity than I typically would for myself. (Un)fortunately for my kids, it won’t be a daily Ramadan tradition for us.

Day 5: This was also a challenging day. This time, H took me up on my offer to reschedule the circle and we decided to do it much later in the evening, between dinner and bedtime.

  • We reviewed surah ikhlaas and worked on surah nas. H was familiar with the surah so we mainly worked on tajweed.
  • As per the children’s request, we practiced the Arabic alphabet through the matching card game, this time, using 30 cards instead of 56. It was actually quite fun for all three of us- I was grateful for the laughs that had replaced the cries and tantrums from earlier in the day. They have requested it again for tomorrow.
  • We talked about the sunnah related to putting on shoes. While this wasn’t something I realized would become part of our daily circle, the children really seem to enjoy learning sunnan related to everyday life. I have been sourcing them from the book in the photos below which I “borrowed” from my mother-in-law years ago.
  • Craft: H worked on this DIY lantern kit she got from her aunt at the beginning of Ramadan. I think it is such a cool concept. Of course, Y also wanted in on the action, so I cut him some sheets of wax paper from the kitchen (although in hindsight, I think parchment paper would have been a better option) for him to draw on.

Day 6: Considering it was a weekend, I found it more challenging to find the right time to do the circle. Instead of sitting down and doing everything at once, it was spread through three different parts of the day in a different order than usual.

  • Activity: we read the book Bismillah Soup and made the recipe provided on the website. I made a few adjustments (you can read about them below). Y was too busy eating and playing to help but H helped by washing the vegetables and tasting the soup (and telling me it needed more salt). Alhamdulillah the soup turned out quite flavourful. Both the kids enjoyed the soup and H went with her dad to drop some off at her grandparents’ house.
  • We played the Arabic alphabet memory game again and once again, it was a hit.
  • We finished reviewing surah nas and H got to add another sticker to her chart. I’m so proud of how well she is catching onto the rules mashaAllah.

To make the soup, I sautéed onions and garlic in EVOO. I added the cut-up (and skinned) chicken and added a teaspoon of salt, two heaping teaspoons (they were probably 10 ml spoons) of the xawaash spice mix and a few bay leaves. Then I added 4 cups of homemade chicken stock and 2 cups of water, covered and cooked. After some time, I added the vegetables and then reduced the heat as I took the kids to the park.

Day 7: We spent quite a bit of time outdoors today- 3 hours in the morning at the Urban Wild Nature Program (including travel time) and another 2.5 hours in the early evening at the park and doing some gardening. To be honest, I didn’t think we would get around to the circle but H remembered during dinner and insisted.

  • We revised surah Nas and surah ikhlaas and learned the first ayah of surah falaq
  • We had a lovely discussion about the importance and role of trees in our lives. Given how much time we spent outside today, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Islam’s view on caring for the natural environment. I led the discussion by asking the children questions like, “Why are trees important?”  We talked about ideas like trees can provide food for humans and animals, trees can help clean the air we need to breathe, trees can provide shelter or places to rest, trees can be homes to animals like birds, bugs and squirrels, trees provide beauty, trees provide ways to play (climbing and swinging) and trees can be used to make paper and wood products.  I also spoke to them about how future generations can reap the benefits of the trees we plant today. I definitely want to take this further and have some resources in mind that I will implement and share.
  • We played the Arabic card memory match game.
  • Activity: We did this Ramadan scavenger hunt that I made a few years ago that the kids really enjoyed. Since it had photos of objects, it was perfect for a toddler like Y to do as well. You can download your own free copy here.

This first week of Ramadan, we did more than I originally anticipated. I was planning on taking it easy with the children’s programming and focusing on my own ibadah this year, but it turns out that as a mother, my worship is directly linked to their upbringing. I consider it such a blessing and honour to raise these kids and over the past 9 years of having my life tied to others, I realized the mercy of Allah and the beauty of this deen where almost anything is considered an act of worship if that is the intention. I’ve done what I can to set myself up for success this Ramadan, including hiring a babysitter to come in so I can have dedicated time to read Quran along with whatever I’m doing with the children. In full disclosure, I wasn’t fasting this past week. We’ll see what I have the patience and energy to follow through on in the subsequent weeks. I’ve already given my kids a heads up that we will not be going to the park tomorrow as I take some time to adjust.

 

Ramadan Roundup – 30 posts!

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There’s only a handful of days left before the most beautiful time of year returns for many around the world. All year, we wait for the blessed days and nights of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Alhamdulillah, I’ve been documenting and sharing what I’ve been doing with H for the past four years, and now, there is quite a list. As we think ahead to this Ramadan, I thought I’d generate a post with brief descriptions and direct links so that things are easier to find 🙂

  1. Thinking critically about our role as parents and educators re. Ramadan
  2. Encouraging Dua in Ramadan – provides suggestions on how to engage children with various learning styles to make dua
  3. Different styles of Ramadan Calendars – provides photos and ideas to help mark Ramadan with your children; see the follow-up posts in subsequent years
  4.  Journaling in Ramadan – why journaling can be beneficial and some ideas about what journaling can look like
  5. Welcoming Ramadan in simple ways (toddler edition) – why I chose to decorate and how we welcomed Ramadan on a budget in DIY style
  6. Functional and meaningful calendars for toddlers – includes photos of the calendar that my 2.5 year old used
  7. Sharing Ramadan with new refugees – extending efforts and outreach to vulnerable populations, in this case, a newly arrived Syrian family that we brought food and decorations for
  8. Eid Gift Drives – how to meaningfully involve your children in buying, packing and delivering gifts for others
  9. Reaching out to vulnerable non-Muslim populations – baking and packing food to give local volunteers who help the homeless
  10. Creating a sadaqah jar (toddler edition) – includes the process we used and extension ideas to make it more meaningful for older children
  11. It’s Ramadan, Curious George – our reaction to the book and an easy and related banana pop recipe for young children to make
  12. Easy and unconventional Eid Gift idea – we bought tickets for train rides and mailed them to H’s other toddler friends
  13. Thinking ahead to Ramadan with a newborn baby – what that means for how activities will look for H
  14.  Our learning and activity plan for Ramadan – includes my personal notes on activity ideas and is divided into categories
  15. Setting the mood– stained “glass” crafts, Ramadan youtube playlists and starting to gather books; why I’m shifting some emphasis from Eid to Ramadan
  16. Treasure hunt and Ramadan baskets – I created a treasure hunt (free download of clues in post) and show you what I purchased to put in Ramadan baskets for my kids, nieces and nephew. Look at #20 to see photos of the kids actually doing the Treasure Hunt.
  17. Ramadan visual scavenger hunt – free printable showcases ramadan related objects (words and pictures) to buy you some time; recommended ages 18m – 6 years
  18. Paper Chains – how my 3.5 made paper chains as a Ramadan decoration and how we used the process to strengthen numeracy and math skills and second language learning
  19. Welcoming Ramadan – child-led cupcake and photos of the children doing the treasure hunt
  20. Ramadan Goody-bags for pre-school class – how my 3.5 year old made goodybags, how I supported her 10 days post-partum, and the skills that were reinforced through this process
  21. Gift for neighbours – Soup Jars – To coincide with Calgary’s official Neighbour Day, we made soup jars for our neighbours. in lieu of baking or cooking (I had a baby just before Ramadan started). All the ingredients were included. They just had to add water and cook on the stove. Recipe in post.
  22. Planning for Ramadan – how I involved my 4.5 year old in planning for Ramadan.
  23. Ramadan storytelling event – I recap some of the stories I shared during a children’s Ramadan event I was invited to participate in. I developed a story based on the increasingly famous story about a girl who takes over her father’s drumming duties. I will be working on polishing this story this year so that I can share it with more audiences.
  24. Easy DIY decorations – we share our homemade decorations from last year (the kids were 4.5 and 1 year old)
  25. Ramadan basket ideas – Some photos and thoughts around what I put into baskets for last year
  26. Connecting with the community to start off Ramadan on a positive note – read about our first Ramadan-themed play date and a community initiative that aims to bring food staples to families in need and how to involve the kids
  27. Ramadan at Preschool– story and craft – You can read about what I did to share Ramadan with the young children in H’s preschool class (it was a French school so there are some French titles as well)
  28. Cute DIY learning resource/gift idea – see how to use rocks to make this easy way to review the Arabic alphabet. It makes a great gift and the rocks can be used in a number of ways.
  29. Ramadan Field Trip to a soap factory – There’s a famous soap made in Aleppo, Syria. As Syrian refugees made Calgary their home, a few founded this successful business where they make soap. H and I went there to buy gifts for a project and we got to see how the soaps were made. You have to check out the photos!
  30. No-cook Ramadan gift ideas for neighbours (or colleagues or teachers) – We featured two companies founded by Syrian refugees who have made Canada their home (Aleppo Savon and Peace by Chocolate). They have some great products and it was a functional gift because once again, I did not want to share cooked food.

Bonus post: To make some creative Eid gifts for the special children in your life, check this out

Learning the Arabic Alphabet through Play

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As H’s interest in letters and reading has really emerged this past year, I’ve been finding ways to extend her learning beyond English and French, into Arabic so that she can start preparing to read and learn the Quran.

Here are some of the games I’ve developed (all on the fly with using supplies we already have) to help learn and revise letters. Hope they can benefit families and teachers who are looking for more play-based options to supplement learning of the Arabic alphabet.

  1. Guessing Game – I asked H to close her eyes and pick a block out of the box. She told me which letter it was. If she couldn’t remember it correctly, I told her and she repeated after me. I made a mental note of the letter so we could focus on it more later. She decided to start lining up the blocks and then independently proceeded to review them. A great extension activity to be used with these blocks is while the child has their eyes closed, help them run their fingers over the letters to trace them and see if they can guess which letter it is. Because the letters are embossed into the block, this works really well and helps engage other senses (not just sight). We used our existing Uncle Goose blocks for this activity, but feel free to use these DIY Arabic Rocks, or draw the letters onto any other tactile medium of choice like duploblocks, lids, tree cookies and yes, even flash cards).
  2. Scavenger Hunt – Anyone who follows this blog knows how much H loves searching for things. In fact, she created her own scavenger hunt for her brother just yesterday (I will share it in a future post). I thought this would be particularly fun for her to do. To make this activity, I just took a blank piece of paper and quickly wrote out the Arabic alphabet (although I’m sure you could find much prettier templates online or make one yourself). I hid the blocks all around our playroom and then called H and Y to find them. H really enjoyed this activity and used the template to mark off the letters she found. Each time she (or her brother found the letter) she had to say the letter out loud and put it back in the box. At the end, she was missing a letter according to her paper so we reversed the process- each time she removed a block from the box, she said the name of the letter and double-checked her list. We discovered she had originally mixed up two similar letters. All of this helped reinforce her letter recognition. As with the last activity, you can create and use your own Arabic alphabet resources. Some more ideas include magnets, playdough cutters or stickers.
  3. Spatial Connections– When it comes to learning in general, I hate limiting myself and my children to linear or chronological approaches. While it’s an easy way to rote memorize things like the alphabet, I want my children to recognize the letters, even when they are not in order (or context). I have been very intentional about H learning the letters in a random order. To supplement this, one day when we were sitting on the couch, I just started writing Arabic letters randomly all over a lined page. H had to say the name of the letter I was writing. When we were done, she had the idea to go through the alphabet (in order) and draw lines between the order of the letters (like connect the dots). This was such a cool original idea, and extra memorable because it was an idea she developed!
  4. Chalkboard and Punctuation – We have a chalkboard wall in our house. Randomly on a Sunday last month, I decided to clean it. I thought that H had gotten a decent handle on identifying the Arabic alphabet (in it’s standalone  since the way the letter looks changes depending on where it appears in the word) so I thought I could move on and teach her a little bit of punctuation. I explained it to her and then wrote different sounds on the board. Her job was to use the red chalk and circle the sounds I was saying. My sister-in-law was over at the time was impressed that H was able to do this, as was I, because it was the first time I had tried to explain it to her and alhamdulillah, she caught on so quickly. Even Y, who likes to be a part of everything we do, was trying to copy the sounds.
  5. Sensory Search– As I was writing this blog post, this idea came to mind. I have a water table in the playroom right now filled with water beads. I’m going to hide the Arabic Alphabet rocks in them so that when H is scooping and squishing, she can happen upon them. I can imagine her excitedly running towards me saying “Mama, I found a Jeem“. If you have any kind of (dry) sensory materials (rice, beans, lentils) in a container, you can hide little pieces of paper or brightly coloured foam with the letters on them. If you want a more natural feel, you can use wooden shapes (I found these at the dollar store). I’ve  even seen people create search and find bags using taped ziplocks or bottles which are perfect as an on-the-go activity.

Do you guys have any fun games or activities that your families have come up with to learn or review the alphabet?

Ramadan 2018: Post 7- Learning Arabic Rocks!

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I had an idea a while ago that I was hoping to do sometime in Ramadan to surprise H with. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’ve been dabbling with the Arabic alphabet for the past few years, but this year, I’m trying to reinforce what she already knows through various different games so that she can move on to start formally learning how to read the Quran.

So far, she has seen the Arabic letters in print (books and posters), on screens (often accompanied by a song) and on these cute wooden blocks I used to sell. (Note: I still have them in a variety of languages, other than Arabic so please contact me if you’re interested- the Farsi and Hindi ones are especially beautiful!)

I love the idea of a tactile resource so a few weeks ago, I finally decided to print the Arabic alphabet on rocks! I used paint pens I had previously purchased from Michaels.

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How cute would these be to make as a gift for someone? Slip them into a canvas bag and give a child in your life a unique and functional play resource.

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And because I like open-ended items and play things that can be used in multiple ways, I decided to paint moons and stars on the back of some of the rocks. I did this so that H could play a variation of Tic-Tac-Toe, a game she discovered a few months ago and loves playing on a dry-erase board.

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Someone could just as easily paint or draw whatever might capture the interest of their child: animals, geometric designs or just leave them in their beautiful, natural state. I love the variety of colour, shape and size!

H found these photos on my phone last week (before I had a chance to add them into her Ramadan Calendar) so we decided to play with them. She was so excited!

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And she went about ordering the alphabet (though as you can see, she doesn’t yet know that Arabic is written and read from right to left).

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Y loves playing with them too. He turned ONE 10 days ago and loves filling and dumping things.

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P.S. I hope you appreciated my carefully crafted pun!

P.P.S. I confess that I ran out of rocks! I still need to complete the other half of the alphabet.

 

Ramadan 2018: Post #3- Decorate!

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We don’t really have annual decorations that we use in Ramadan. So far it’s been mainly homemade items that tie into some other area of learning or craft projects. But as the kids get older, I suspect more of a theme will emerge.

Like many adults, I swoon at the beautiful colour schemes and minimalist Ramadan decor that has taken the Western Muslim world by storm. But I know that that just wont work for my family right now (given the type of space and furniture we have and our children’s ages). We very much advocate for them feeling like this is their home too so as tempting as a magazine-inspired spread is, we aren’t there yet. Everything that’s up in our house is intentionally there- there is a story, a deeper meaning, a specific learning that happened. So I take a deep breath and let go of my expectations and do what I typically do: I consult H and then we collaborate.

The Monday before Ramadan started, we began to decorate. The first thing we did was add to our calendar. I created our Ramadan calendar 3 years ago and we have been reusing it since. It’s made from foam board, felt and a glue gun. I typically use cards made out of card stock or cut up cue cards and draw pictures on one side (because visual literacy is important and helps children make connections to text when they’re ready). Typically, the cards have activities or tasks, often linked to caring for others. As the kids needs change, I will also include more specific learning like Quranic ayat and hadeeth. See how we have used it in years past here and here.

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This year, H and I decided to make a dome. I cut out the shape from cardboard for H and she painted it. She initially chose green and then changed her mind when she saw the gold paint. I said she could add glitter to her dome so she chose purple glitter.The newly minted dome definitely gave the calendar a lift.

I had a DIY banner lying around that I had previously purchased from Dollarama. H helped me punch holes. I added yarn (we didn’t have twine or rope on hand). I was getting ready to write letters when H reminded me, “I know how to do letters!” so she ended up writing the letters I dictated. The “D” is upside down because the paper was upside down when she was writing it (I was chasing after Y in that moment).

The perfectionist in me wanted to micro-manage how she drew the letters (heck, the perfectionist in me wanted to do the letters myself!) but the educator in me rose above and recognized how meaningful and empowering it would be for H to do this herself.

I cleared H’s past artwork off of the toy shelf after asking her permission and we added some lanterns. I decided to to add some prints in some new frames I had lying around the house. (I did a Google search for free images and downloads because I didn’t feel like I had the time to browse more and pick one out but I plan to do so in the future).  She chose to add the glass candle holders and flower candles.

H has been reviewing the Arabic alphabet for what feels like years. As a fun way to review her letters (and for me to seriously assess how well she knows them) I included a little chalkboard. Each night, I write one of the 28 letters on the chalkboard (in a random order). I include a corresponding block and in the morning, H can tell me what letter it is and she attempts to draw it in the small sand tray I’ve incorporated into that space. We haven’t been very serious about learning Arabic but I do feel she’s ready to take it up a notch.

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We also have a lamp that we’ve been hanging decorations off of, including some of H’s past and present creations. This is Y’s favourite section as he loves to hit the hanging decorations and watch them sway.

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Lastly, I gathered all of our Ramadan related books and put them in H’s Ramadan basket from last year so we could easily find them.

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Decoration for us is going to be an ongoing thing this Ramadan. As we create more and more things, we will integrate them into our decor. I’m curious to see how the space will look by the end of the month.

Ramadan 2017- Post #3: Setting the Mood

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I’ve started hinting to the arrival of Ramadan by making subtle changes around the house and in our daily routine. For example, I created this playlist on youtube of Ramadan songs to play in the background as we go about our day. It is a mix of upbeat child friendly music, some more ballad style songs and some multilingual tracks (English/Arabic/French). I played them this past weekend as H started working on the first of her decorations. It’s nothing impressive but I wanted to get some relevant content in one place that I could also pass along if anyone else was interested. Here is the link.

Note: I don’t let H watch the videos and can’t vouch for the content. I usually play them on my phone and allow her to catch the audio only.

While I was starting to prep the stained glass window craft activity by cutting squares of tissue paper, H wanted in on the action. So I hurriedly cut two shapes out of black construction paper (a lantern and a mosque) and showed her how to glue the tissue paper squares on the back. When she was done, we taped them to our window. I haven’t had time to prep more designs, but I did cut up extra tissue paper squares (that H helped me collect and store in a ziplock bag). H was thrilled with the results and wants to make more for our house and to decorate her grandparents’ house. We are planning on making more shapes, perhaps using stencils that can be found online to give it a cleaner and more uniformed look.

Depending on time, we may make a few of these kits to share with H’s cousins and friends. They make a cute DIY craft kit! Just package some pre-cut stencils, tissue paper squares, a glue stick and perhaps some string. I’ll update this post with a photo if I follow through on this idea. Also, if the kits are for older children, you could just include scissors along with simple instructions allowing them to cut out the pre-drawn stencils and tissue paper themselves.

During the weekend, we also started playing intentionally with H’s Arabic blocks. In the past, she has used them only for free-play, but now I am using them for more intentional learning (to learn and review the letters of the alphabet). It’s been quite an interesting process for me because since Arabic has some sounds that are different than English, I’m getting a feel for what sounds she has yet to develop/say correctly (sh, kh, dh, tha). Basic knowledge of these letters will lead to other games and inshaAllah eventually, the ability to read the Quran.

arabic blocks

Yesterday, we also went shopping to buy some things for the Ramadan Baskets I am planning on making. Generally, there is a lot of emphasis and excitement surrounding Eid, but I’m trying to make the whole month of Ramadan special. I want my children to be even more excited for Ramadan than Eid because as any Muslim adult who loves Ramadan can attest, there is a bittersweet feeling, a sadness that fills one’s heart as Ramadan winds down and Eid approaches. The other reason is purely practical: a few years ago, my husband and I decided that Ramadan is best spent engaging in acts and affairs filled with the remembrance of God, so we would strive to take care of our worldly preoccupations before the special month was upon us. For me specifically what that has looked like is not focusing on the retail aspect of my business during Ramadan (even though that’s probably the most profitable time for me) and planning for Eid gifts in advance.

The gift baskets I am making will be personalized for each child (details to follow) and will be the treasure children find at the end of their Ramadan Treasure Hunt (look out for an opportunity to download clues to use in your own homes/families in an upcoming post). I didn’t tell H what the purchases were for (luckily her nani is in town and was able to preoccupy her as I shopped) but I did get her input to make a few decisions regarding who would like what.

Today, I also started pulling out some of the books that aren’t all about Ramadan, but whose themes I will be connecting to Ramadan as it approaches. H picked a few to read and we will be rotating them with the books that are currently on her shelf.

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These activities and experiences have been a nice way for me to spend more one-on-one time with H. Generally, she just plays in my vicinity as I go about my life, but perhaps because both of us sense that things are about to change, we are really indulging in moments of togetherness. This is what I imagine a more structured homeschool-styled life would look like.