Ramadan 2019 – Post #1: The Plan

Standard

This Ramadan I will be fasting inshaAllah, and so I have been thinking about what I can do to prepare before the Holy Month begins.

One of the most helpful things I’ve done is dedicate a little notebook to all of my Ramadan related planning, whether it’s food to be cooked, gifts in the works, activity ideas for the children or goals for myself. I’ve also been recording the children’s input in this notebook. For example, last week we had a planning meeting and I asked them “What do you know about Ramadan?” According to H, Ramadan is about:

  • Respect and being nice
  • Saying Thank You to Allah
  • We can bring food for people, like the poor
  • Adults fast
  • Making presents for others

It is important for me to know what knowledge or ideas she already has so I can meet her where she’s at, and direct her to more holistic understandings. For example, one of the things that I shared with her during this meeting is the idea that Ramadan is the month of the Quran and I hope that after the work we do this year, that idea is something that becomes part of her experience.

While Y didn’t have anything to add (he’s 23 months) he was very eager to sit with us and I realized instead of trying to work with H in his absence (which is rarely a reality for us), I can be more mindful of involving him in what we are doing. To be honest, at his age, he’s the more receptive of the two when it comes to more traditional acts of worship.

Another thing I was intentional about doing to lessen my distractions during Ramadan was to do the bulk of my shopping for Eid and Ramadan gifts in advance since this is something I enjoy doing and often spend quite a bit of time on. This last week before Ramadan starts, my focus is on getting groceries, stocking my freezer and getting things into functional spaces so everything is ready to go come next week.

This Ramadan, H will be turning 5.5 years old and Y will be turning 2. Because H is in school full-time, I thought about stepping away from the kind of pocket-style calendar I have typically done because I just assumed she wouldn’t have time for extra activity, and Y is still fairly young. But as Ramadan entered H’s thoughts, she immediately started talking about the calendar and how excited she was and we had this exchange:

“I don’t think I’m going to do a calendar this year.”

“But mama, you always do a calendar.”

“Not always. The year Y was born, we just did a simple sticker one, remember?”

“Oh yah. But I like the calendar.”

“Fine, I’ll do a calendar but it won’t be different activities each day. Some days, it will be other things, like verses of Quran or different things we can learn about.”

“Okay!”

So because I believe in child-led learning, we will be doing a “calendar” this year, but I will not be reusing our beloved homemade one which I first made four years ago.

08832FD7-B016-490B-B364-966CBECA8B2B

Instead, our plan is to have a learning circle every day at a consistent time (most likely sometime after she gets home from school and before dinner).

The plan is to spend 5 minutes on Arabic, 5 minutes on Quran memorization and then seeing what the special thing is for that day (equivalent to checking the calendar). Finding a consistent way to work Arabic and Quran into our daily lives has been a struggle for me so I’m hoping this is a habit we can continue outside of Ramadan.

I plan to use this diaper box that I wrapped in pretty wrapping paper (actually from winter but it works) and replace the contents every day. There will be a chalkboard next to counting which day of Ramadan we are currently on.

The contents may include the supplies required for an activity, a Ramadan-related book or an object that sparks discussion. I will try to include relevant hadith, stories or ayat from the Quran (this is something I’m currently working on getting together) where I can.

 

Here is an example of what it will look like. I will not be doing this particular activity on the first day of Ramadan but will be scheduling it for a weekend. H loves the book Bismillah Soup ( I love the story too) and she’s been asking to make Bismillah Soup at home for over a year now. A few months ago I looked up the recipe to make the special spice mix and bookmarked it. I saved the recipe card (all available through Ruqaya’s Bookshelf in addition to a wide range of Islamic children’s books, including Ramadan ones!) and planned to do it as an activity in Ramadan. A few weeks ago, I actually found the spice mix (pre-made) in a local grocery store so I bought because I wasn’t sure I would have the time to actually make it with the kids- it’s essentially a Somali garam masala.

I originally had stuff I was going to include in Ramadan baskets for my kids including new PJs, books and crafts, but have decided to spread the items out throughout the month so we can intentionally work through things.

0E21B1C7-10B4-4A6C-8699-ECBB0F85F85B

These awesome PJs were purchased at Two Craftistas! These ones say “Ramadan with my Khandaan”  which I thought was apt for our family dynamics hehe (khandaan means extended family). They have a wide selection of styles and still have some in stock, along with many other cool items. I was so happy to discover matching family Ramadan PJs and knew the kids would love them.

187D92F8-2358-478D-B56F-EE51BC960B01

Last year, we ordered a set of matching family PJs for myself, my husband and our kids and my niece expressed her desire to also have matching PJs (coincidentally, H and her typically have at least one matching pair of PJs at any given time) but I know it will be a whole other level excitement to have their brothers in matching PJs too.

The books were purchased through Eastern Toybox, a wonderful retailer of high quality Islamic play items for children that I discovered when I used to live in Toronto (they’ve been around that long, mashaAllah). They have a lovely assortment of wooden and cloth toys that I know will leave some of you drooling! Their commitment to fairtrade and eco-friendly products and practices is very much in line with what I had envisioned for Discovery Dome when we were retailing products.

While I do a lot of shopping via Amazon prime, I like to support small business owners when I can! I encourage you to check out the amazing variety of clothes, books and toys at these three establishments.

 

Advertisements

Ramadan Roundup – 30 posts!

Standard

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

Behind the Name

Standard

Discovery Dome is a concept I thought up almost three years ago. When I was thinking about what to name my project, I wanted a name, logo and slogan that encompassed my passion for play-based learning, exploration and community. I also wanted a subtle way to hint at the Muslim-inclined subject matter.

I consulted with my husband and with my awesome graphic designer (she can be contacted here) and finally settled on the name Discovery Dome, with the tagline “Learning together through play”. The discovery aspect alluded to exploration and learning and the dome was a reference to a mosque – an Islamic place of worship that has historically been a place of learning and community building. That idea can be extended to the entire world as Muslims believe that the the whole world is essentially a mosque – a place of worship and remembrance of God. There is a lot of reflection and awakenings that happen within mosques and I wanted Discovery Dome to similarly be a place of reflection.

My designer worked with me to capture the “world” which served two purposes for me: 1. It hinted to the multicultural nature of the products and programming I hoped to have, and 2. It alluded to my belief that the whole world is a place rich in learning and play. By tweaking its shape and adding a little crescent to the top, the world looked more like the dome of the mosque.

She worked with me to adjust the colour palette and font to my liking, and captured the playful/artistic nature of the project by making the continents look more like splatters of paints than perfect representations.

dd-final

I knew when I started Discovery Dome that it would evolve through different phases in terms of what the main focus was. Initially, I was concentrating on retail but I am quite pleased that it’s moving more towards the education piece as that’s where my passion lies. So I invite you to join me in this journey of learning together through play 🙂