“The World is Not a Rectangle”


I found this book in the library last night. We read it before bed today. Quite timely, wouldn’t you say?

I picked it up because I was intrigued: a Muslim woman architect inspired by nature who lived during our time.

What I didn’t anticipate was reading it today, coincidentally on International Women’s Day, and then rereading it tonight with my daughter.


It led to so many questions and discussions, google searches and connections to the other work we are doing around art and geography and what is beautiful.


It was an honour to have found and share this book. I am mesmerized.



Beautiful Oops


In the fall of 2012, I was taking a class that ended up being life changing for me. The class about experiences in early childhood literacy was brought to life by my talented college instructor, Lana Kostiuk, who deeply influenced how I thought about books for children. Lana’s dynamic lessons and standards for quality not only helped inform my own passions within early childhood education, but they pulled me into the world of Reggio as I learned about provocations and rich literature.

One of the first books  Lana shared with us, was called Beautiful Oops. I remember how mesmerized I was as she read it. I remember how the wheels in my head started turning and thinking “wow!” The book invites us to look at mistakes from a different perspective, seeing opportunities disguised as faults. It has a very beautiful concrete application for young children as well as figurative one for adults. I highly recommend checking it out!


In the spring of 2015, I bought the book for a friend who had just graduated from teacher’s college. A few years later I saw a FB post of a coffee stain on a student’s paper that she had cleverly changed into something else. A few months later, I bought a copy for my family. I knew it wasn’t yet relevant to my daughter who was 20 months at the time, but I knew that day would come.

That day came today.

H has really been into drawing for the past week. This sent me over the moon because for almost a year, she’s shown little interest in it. I’ve been marvelling at how her drawing ability has been evolving (maybe I will share some of her creations in another post) but this evening she was very frustrated with the process.

I knew there were a number of factors coming into play: our routine has evaporated during the holidays. Late wake up/sleep times, forgotten meal times and minimal regard given to what she’s eating have understandably made her more grumpy and prone to high emotions. Moreover, not having the social connections she has become accustomed to (preschool friends and attention from me) have also affected her ability to cope. So when I could overhear her frustrated, angry, scribbling furiously over pictures that were not turning out the way she wanted and tears pierced with cries for attention, pleas for playing together and the “you didn’t spend any time with me today” I knew this was an opportunity.

I promised once I got Y into bed, I would be all hers.

And somewhere in that two hours of spending time together, we read Beautiful Oops. Most of my children’s books that are not in current use are housed in the basement, but for some reason, this one has always loved in my bedroom.

H was intrigued and fascinated. We read the book together and I saw her go through it atleast three more times in the short period before bed.




I suggested that maybe we could revisit her “mistake” from earlier in the day- the possibility of turning it into something beautiful was an idea she loved! She also asked me to join in and beautify some of my “mistakes”.




I hope that powerful feeling she felt is one that stays with her. She already asked me if I could leave the book downstairs so she could read it every morning.

Odds and Ends


We’ve been doing a lot of play and exploration with light and shadow (post forthcoming) but in the meantime I thought I’d share some photos of the other things we have been up to. It’s fascinating for me to be back in the baby years and witness how quickly physical, social and cognitive skills are developing. It’s also been interesting to see changing dynamics and relationships within our house.





October Round Up


October has been a busy and interesting month! We spent the last few days of September outdoors visiting the farm and exploring the neighbourhood.


Good thing because the beginning of October brought snow! Fortunately, it was temporary so we could enjoy fall some more.


As we found ourselves settling into more of a routine, we started spending more time indoors.

H came across this tray and literally begged me to fill it with things for her (she remembered the last time we had used it), so in a five minute hussle, I filled it with things from my kitchen (isn’t it amazing how many different types of pasta there are?!)


H got to work, adding in her own loose parts like bracelets.


This month, she spent a lot of time dressing up. Sometimes she used ready made costumes and sometimes she used her imagination.


I love H’s knack for symbolic play. I think she would be great at improv. Here she is with her bicycle helmet, a bunk bed she made for her dolls and putting her babies to sleep in their bassinets.


We voted in the municipal elections and that raised a discussion about mayors. So far the only mayors she knew about were Mayor Goodway and Mayor Humdinger. She was very curious about Mayor Nenshi.


H played with old loose parts, building homes and having picnics.


And explored new ones too.

We read. We ran up hills. We went to go see a play.


We did experiments and yoga.

Our car broke down and we ended up stuck at her school for a few hours. It was nice for me to have a deeper look at her preschool environment. I know I’m the keener parent- the one who is always looking at the lesson plans, remembers spirit days and peeks to see what new centres have been added to the room.


As Y has been growing older, it’s fascinating to see what captures his attention. Not only does he love watching his sister at play, but he has started to express his own preferences. He was really drawn to this bicycle-printed hijab of mine so we used it over his play gym and suspended from the swing. He also tried catching his shadow.


I spent time learning this month. I found some inspiring Facebook groups and attending virtual workshops I had signed up for last winter. This exposure to seeing Reggio in practice got my gears turning and reignited my passion for self-growth and reflection.

When I look back at some of what we did this month, I feel exhausted! But I also can’t help but smile at all of the synapses (brain connections) that must have been made. Play, is after all, the work of the child.


Welcome Baby!


One last announcement before we get back to the Ramadan posts. Please welcome the newest addition to our Discovery Dome family…


Baby Gaga (as dubbed by H who refuses to call him by his actual name)


He joined us on May 16, 2017. And with a baby in the picture, you can be assured that I will also be posting some more baby-related content/play ideas.

The first thing I’d like to share are these three resources.


I bought the Baby & Toddler Play book when I was pregnant with H. I used the play ideas in this book from birth to thirty months old. I love this book! It’s exceptionally well-organized! Each activity/play idea includes a description of how it’s done, what age it’s appropriate for, what kind of play it is, what skills it helps to develop, and a photograph (although dated). The book also features research reports, lyrics to rhymes and songs, a glossary and skills index.

Since I bought the Baby Play for Everyday book after H was already a toddler, I haven’t had the chance to use it yet, but it looks promising. It starts with a visual overview of the skills babies generally develop in their first year of life and the areas of development those skills correspond to. There are twelve sections that correspond to the first twelve months of baby’s life. The sections start with an overview on changes and development and a list of skills your child can probably do and some things that some babies may be able to do. It goes on to present activity ideas in visually attractive ways with a mix of blurbs, photos and fonts. What I like about this book is that the 365 activities are not just for babies but there are ideas in there that while include baby, are done more for the caregiver (for example, positions for birth recovery, healthy snack ideas, and exercise poses).

The Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos is actually a book I borrowed from my local library to prepare for a workshop I was doing in April. Although I didn’t have the chance to consult the book then, I did flip through it.  This book isn’t as well-organized as the others but still contains valuable information and insight, especially in the form of lists. Sections I enjoyed included “Fun things babies do while you read,” “Ten reasons to read to your baby or toddler,” “Featured books” as well as information regarding the ages and stages in young children’s development and implications for books and reading, and many many book lists organized by features (ex. “twenty-eight especially engaging, incredible interactive books,” “Can’t put them down storybooks: blockbuster fiction for the younger set,” “ten wordless favourites” etc.

I look forward to being inspired by the content of these books and sharing them with you!


Ramadan 2017- Post #5- Easy Peasy Scavenger Hunt


If you’re looking for an easier alternative to the treasure hunt I recently posted, you may appreciate this Ramadan Scavenger Hunt!

DD ramadan scavenger hunt

Simply download and print the  Ramadan Scavenger Hunt and let your child(ren) find the items on the list.

A great feature about this hunt is that clues are visually depicted, making it developmentally appropriate for children as young as 18 months. Children will feel empowered being able to identify and find the objects independently. Moreover, the images help reinforce literacy skills (both visual literacy and language).

Many of these items will become naturally visible in and around your home during Ramadan (if they aren’t already on a regular basis). Print out the sheet and allow your young children to find the items on the list (note: they don’t have to collect the items- just point them out).

Another way this scavenger hunt can be used is to practice a second language. Either edit the document to include the words in a secondary language, or introduce the terms in whatever second (or third or fourth) language your child may be learning. Reinforce the terms when the items are found.

Happy Hunting!


Ramadan 2017- Post #3: Setting the Mood


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.

image (20)

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.