Friday, February 26, 2010

Check it Out: Sunflower Houses

Assalamu alaikum,

After our egg carton garden went so well alhamdulillah, we're still in a planting mood. I'm trying to get more gardening activities ready by reading up on gardening ideas to do with children insha'Allah. This book, Sunflower Houses, is so...nostalgic and I like the paper; it's heavy and creamy. But I guess I should tell you about the content of the book itself right? (smile)

'Sunflower Houses' has a plethora of gardening knowledge for adults to share with children. This is a great way to show children Allah's Creation and how it is diverse, complex and stunning masha'Allah.

So as you and your family prepare for the spring insha'Allah, you may find some great gardening ideas to do with the little ones in this book insha'Allah. You can buy the book by clicking on it in the Amazon widget on the right hand side of the page (under Our Most Requested Read Alouds) or....the next time you're at the library: Check it Out insha'Allah!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Egg Carton Garden

Assalamu alaikum,

Here is a craft that you can invite children to do to get ready for spring insha'Allah: An Egg Carton Garden.

You can start planning which seeds you'd like to plant now insha'Allah and as spring draws near, you can set out to the store and pick up your seeds and start your garden insha'Allah. For ideas for plants that grow quickly and beautifully, see this post insha'Allah.

You probably can't see it because of the glare but the wording on the fence says, "Allahu Akbar"

To make this project you will need::

- Egg carton (not Styrofoam) cut in half and then the part that hold the eggs was cut in half as well
- Craft Sticks/Popsicle Sticks
- Plastic Bag
- Glue (non-toxic)
- Non-Toxic Paint
- Potting soil
- Seeds of your choice
- Small watering can

To make this project:

1). After you have cut your egg carton in half, get your craft sticks and make your gate. Use a plastic bag and line up all of the sticks on this bag.

2). Apply a nice amount of glue to the sticks.

3). Gently swirl the glue around (with your fingers - kids will love this part insha'Allah..hehe) so that it covers the sticks and gets in between them as well insha'Allah. If you swirl too hard the sticks will move out of place but you can put them back easily insha'Allah.

4). Allow the stick gate to dry over night and gently peel it away from/off of the plastic bag. Paint the stick gate any colour you'd like insha'Allah. Allow the paint to dry completely. When the paint is completely dry, glue the gate to the back of the egg carton (the long part that does not hold the eggs - the cover). Allow the glue to dry completely. *You may need something to weigh the egg carton down so the stick gate dries securely against the egg carton insha'Allah. I used the bottles of paint. Place the egg carton and gate down onto the plastic - with the gate on the plastic and the egg carton sticking up in the air (and on top of the gate)and place the paint bottles on top of the egg carton against the gate. I should have taken a picture of that now that I think of it.*

5). Once the gate has dried securely to the egg carton cover, decorate your gate with cloth flowers, ceramic or foam veggies, or better yet: allow the child(ren) to paint whatever decorations they'd like on to their gate insha'Allah.

Almost done alhamdulillah!

6). Once the gate decorations are done, place your potting soil in the egg compartments, place your seeds in, cover them with additional soil insha'Allah, water and wait for a blessing from Allah to bloom before your children's eyes insha'Allah!

I put a small watering can in the space next to the soil that way the children can be responsible for watering the seeds each day insha'Allah. After they are shown how to do this, place a small amount of water in the water can each day and invite them to water the seeds insha'Allah. You may also choose to place a water dropper and a small cup of water in the tray and show the children how to fill the water dropper and place the appropriate amount of water in each compartment insha'Allah. This can help avoid overwatering the seeds/plants insha'Allah.

Once the plants start getting too big for their egg carton homes, you can take the egg carton and place it in the ground and it will dissolve without harming the environment insha'Allah. I think I may do an indoor herb garden this way too insha'Allah!

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ice Pictures

Assalamu alaikum,

A winter nature walk, melted snow, collected twigs, pine needles, tree bark, stones, or whatever goodies you and your little one can find make this winter craft especially nice. Use all of these collected wonders that Allah has Created to make an ice picture insha'Allah:

I stumbled upon this beautiful (and easy) craft on My Little Hen and children as young as nine months old can enjoy this craft because if they are given the items in their hand, they can drop them into the aluminum pan. Older infants can actually go beyond that and collect the snow, allow it to melt and pour the water into the aluminum pan insha'Allah.

When the picture was frozen and ready to be explored, I took the opportunity to point out and name each of the items encased in the ice and mention that it is Allah who Created each of these things, including the ice. I also used this time to introduce and reinforce the concept of temperature and textures (i.e. cold, rough, smooth, etc.). This was an activity that was truly enjoyed alhamdulillah.

This is a great motor and sensory activity for infants and toddlers during the winter months and I hope you and your children have the chance to make an ice picture insha'Allah.

*Note: I recommend using melted snow because for many around the world, water is a precious, and often hard to come by, resource. I do not know the Islamic ruling on using water on such an activity as this but to err on the side of caution I thought it best to use melted snow instead of water that can be used to drink or cook with and waallahu alim.*

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Check it Out: Home Learning Year by Year

Assalamu Alaikum,

I've been doing some reading about how to plan your year when you're homeschooling and how to actually get started, organized, etc. Some of the books I've come across I returned to the library without finishing but this book actually seems like one that may be worth adding to my library insha'Allah. Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp has loads of information about which subjects to cover in each grade/year, where to find resources to cover core subjects year by year and more.

The author also recommends books to be used in each subject area (but of course we have to check each book to make sure it is Islamically okay insha'Allah). All in all, I've found the book to be a good resource for parents who homeschool but as with most books, the resources provided for some subject areas are for U.S. curricula so that doesn't apply to everyone.

You can buy the book here or the next time you're at the library....Check it Out insha'Allah!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Arabic Letter Foam Craft Activity

Assalamu alaikum,

Alhamdulillah for the many uses of foam, fabric, construction paper, clean, used foil, and a range of other crafting materials (even cereal boxes!). This activity is an example of one way foam can be used for a tactile learning experience with the Arabic alphabet insha'Allah. This is a fun (albeit potentially messy) art project that children three years and older may enjoy insha'Allah. Foam Arabic Letters:

 Sister Umm Sara did this activity and added some wonderful variations masha'Allah. Have a look!:

Here, tissue paper is used in place of foam. Gorgeous masha'Allah! Stop by her blog, Islomiy Oila to see more insha'Allah. Jazakillahu Khayr dear sis Umm Sara for sharing!

The materials you will need vary based on what you may have available on hand so that makes the possibilities quite large alhamdlillah.

If you have:

- empty cereal boxes
- odd and end pieces of fabric
- scrap pieces of foam
- scrap pieces of construction paper
- even egg shells will work

you have what you need for your child to enjoy this project insha'Allah.

Take scrap pieces of whatever material you will use and cut them into medium or large geometric shaped pieces. If you use egg shells, supervise the activity closely so no pieces end up being eaten and present a choking hazard. Once you have all of the pieces cut up or broken (if using egg shells), put them in a paper bowl or plate. Provide the child with a piece of construction paper with an Arabic alphabet outline already drawn on it insha'Allah. Give the child some liquid glue (or glue stick if you are using construction paper), and invite the child to glue the pieces into the letter. If you are using egg shells, after the glue dries, invite the child to paint the letter using any colour paint available insha'Allah. If you use foil, you can also invite the child to paint the foil to get a unique effect. This craft can even be done with two piece of plain white paper. You can draw the letter outline on one piece of paper and cut the other piece of paper into different shapes. Invite the child to glue the pieces on and then either colour or paint the glue pieces of paper once they have dried insha'Allah.  For added fun, you can add glitter to the activity as well insha'Allah.

If you've done a similar Arabic alphabet craft activity with your children and you'd like to share, please email me with pictures (no people in the pictures please) and insha'Allah, I may add them to this post. *Please include the link to your blog (if you have one insha'Allah) if you have the crafted posted there insha'Allah.*

Update: Sis Zaza over at Easel & Ink is up to it again masha'Allah! She's made Arabic Alphabet colouring pages (and there's a book cover too!)
Here is the letter Baa (just right for our letter Baa above *smile*):

These are in the Homeschooling section of the forum alhamdulillah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Check it Out: Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots

Assalamu aliakum,

I was going to wait to post this but this book is just so very nice (minus the unislamic content about fairies and such) that I just couldn't wait. If you like gardening, and better yet, if you like including your children (even the very young) in gardening, then you may really enjoy this book, Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots:

I'm trying to do some planning for spring insha'Allah, specifically gardening activities insha'Allah, and this book is just great for that. It has so many ideas that really speak to spending quality time with children and teaching them to respect and care for the environment insha'Allah. So even though snow storms still punctuate the landscape, spring planning has started alhamdulillah and it's already turning out to be fun!

You can buy this book here or the next time you're at the library....Check it Out insha'Allah!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Language Activity for Treasure Baskets

Assalamu alaikum,

Treasure baskets for infants and toddlers are just wonderful masha'Allah. They are a complete sensory experience that keeps children engaged for long periods of time as they explore each item in turn: feeling it, smelling it, touching it, and even placing the object into their mouths. For this reason, you want to make sure that each object is safe for the child based on his/her age insha'Allah. Treasure baskets can be introduced to infants as young as six months old. Into your child's treasure basket you can place objects that have a theme (i.e. kitchen items) or you can collect an array of items for your little one to explore insha'Allah. 

I've done a post on treasure baskets before but I realized that I wanted to extend the use of the treasure basket and incorporate a language activity as well insha'Allah. What I did was I took several wooden craft pieces and placed them into a basket. I invited the child to explore the contents independently after I had modeled smelling and looking at each object, etc. I then took selected objects and named them as I placed them on the work mat. The child attempted to say each name after I had named the object alhamdulillah. Ideally if you are doing this activity you do not want to use as many objects as I have pictured insha'Allah. Initially, you will introduce 3-4 objects to be named insha'Allah and add more objects as the child's skill increases insha'Allah.

I want to extend the activity further for older toddlers (15 months and older) by lying out and naming three or four objects only and then invite the child to match them to picture cards that show those same objects insha'Allah. These are the picture cards I will use insha'Allah:

So, in this activity I would only have the frog, turtle, giraffe and bee pieces in the basket.

There are also these two books that can be used with this activity insha'Allah:

We will use this book, 'Animals', for our activity insha'Allah but unfortunately, I cannot locate this book on the internet. If I am able to insha'Allah, I will update this post and provide the link insha'Allah. The book is wonderful as it is in Arabic and English alhamdulillah.

If you choose transportation as your theme (which I think I will do next insha'Allah), this book would be a nice read aloud to use insha'Allah.You can buy the book here insha'Allah or of course, you can check it out from the library insha'Allah (smile).

If you do this activity, try to place as few plastic objects in the basket as possible insha'Allah. The reason: plastic offers little or no sensory learning. Plastic is cold, usually smooth and virtually indestructible. These characteristics (among others) offer the child very little information about his/her world. The world is not always cold, smooth and indestructible; indeed, things in the environment have varying temperatures, textures, and can be broken. 

I've read (and seen it for myself) that children treat plastic objects with little or no respect and do the opposite with non plastic objects. Children recognize and appreciate beauty and well crafted materials subhana'Allah. Wooden toys can be expensive yes, but I've found great buys at bargain stores, second hand shops, etc. The toys are often in great shape and need only to be washed and disinfected thoroughly before being presented to the child. In this way we are able to provide many wooden toys to children alhamdulillah. 

Here are some examples of non-plastic objects (that can often be found around the house) that can be put into a treasure basket insha'Allah:

- Sponge
- Sea Shells
- Whisk
- Wooden spoons
- Metal or Wooden Spatula
- Ball of yarn
- Gourd
- Coconut Shell
- Stones
- Jar lid
- Velvet Powder Brush
- Satin String/Scarf
- Piece of sandpaper

Aside from appreciating beauty in objects, when a toddler throws an object in frustration and it breaks the child learns something from that experience. As a parent (or teacher) you can use that as a teachable moment insha'Allah. Show the child the broken object and explain that when we are upset we do not throw things. Have the child participate in cleaning up his/her mess and in a calm voice explain that this toy will not be available to play with anymore because it is broken and unusable now.

Insha'Allah, you will find treasure baskets to be an excellent sensory and language learning tool for your infant or toddler. You can see a delightful treasure basket here insha'Allah get more ideas of what to place in a treasure basket here and here insha'Allah. If you'd like to use the same picture cards, you can download them here insha'Allah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beginning Math Worksheets for Little Muslims

Assalamu alaikum,

I was playing around last night and I did these (click on the images to see larger view insha'Allah):

Okay, yes there was laughter (or should I say, I was laughed at) but I ignored was good laughter so alhamdulillah. My thinking behind this was: 'isn't it good for our children to see their religion represented positively in all areas of the curriculum'? Well....tab3an (of course)!

But wait (sidetracking here)...for the sisters carrying the bags, do you think that the children will count the bags and not the sisters? Will that confuse them? Should I change that graphic?

Anyway, I just wanted to share a silly moment with you all insha'Allah. Who knows? Maybe, you'll all start designing Islamic Math Worksheets insha'Allah (if you don't already and if you do - share!! Hint: I used graphics from Easel & Ink because they work wonderfully for this.

Here are the files if you want to use these insha'Allah:

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Check it Out (with a bonus): Somewhere In the Ocean

Assalamu alaikum,

This is a recommended book with a bonus: Aside from being a good story, "Somewhere in the Ocean" by Jennifer Ward presents a great opportunity to incorporate a fun math activity. Children learn interesting facts about each animal (and their habitat) as they are also being introduced to counting from 1-10. Even if your child has already mastered counting from 1-10, the story itself is a fun read insha'Allah. The book has beautiful illustrations of sea animals and the rhyming verses are fun to read aloud insha'Allah. 

And, I put together a quick counting activity to be used with the book after a read aloud insha'Allah (see below insha'Allah).
This is a simple counting activity to go with the book alhamdulillah.

As you're reading the book (or after you've read the book insha'Allah), invite the child(ren) to match the animals that were mentioned in the story with the number that shows how many of that particular animal was in the story. In the picture above, there was one manatee in the story, two orca whales and three clown fish. Students will continue matching the animals to the numbers until they reach the number ten insha'Allah. There is control of error in this activity because the number of animal pictures can only match a certain number. For example: If the child finishes the activity and there are clown fish left, they know that they have made a mistake somewhere and can go back and retry insha'Allah.

Insha'Allah, later in the week (if I remember), I'll come back and put pictures of the activity (after I've had my set laminated insha'Allah). Added alhamdulillah!

You can download the 'Somewhere in the Ocean Math Activity' here insha'Allah. The file has Arabic and English numbers included insha'Allah. And you can buy the book, 'Somewhere in the Ocean' here or the next time you're at the library...Check it out insha'Allah!

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Muslim Name Handwriting Practice Mini-Books

Assalamu alaikum,

Cold, fever, flu
What's a teacher to do?
When everyone is saying "Achoo!"
The next one to get sick is YOU!

That little poem that I thought up just about sums up the latter part of last week (smile). Insha'Allah next week will be different. But toward the end of the week (even with the Achoo!...hehe) I worked on some Muslim name handwriting practice mini-books for the children to practice printing their names insha'Allah. Very simple little books that are easy to put together and each book has a bit of colouring at the end insha'Allah. Here's the mini-book for Adam (This one is black and white but the little pictures on the front of the books are in colour):

(sorry about the lighting in the pictures - snowy day)
This is the second page that has the first letter of the child's name (capitalized).
Each page has one letter of the child's name repeated five times.The last page has their name that they can colour insha'Allah.

I've done the following names (so far alhamdulillah):

- Hawa - Hawa 1  - Hawa 2  - Hawa 3  - Hawa 4  - Hawa 5  - Hawa 6 

- Isa  - Isa 1  - Isa 2  - Isa 3  - Isa 4  - Isa 5  - Isa 6 


- Noor - Noor 1 - Noor 2 - Noor 3 - Noor 4 - Noor 5


- Zain - Zain 1 - Zain 2 - Zain 3 - Zain 4 - Zain 5 - Zain 6

If you would like a mini-book with a name that you do not see on the list above, please leave a comment or email me with the name you would like insha'Allah. Please include a few words about what your child might like (i.e. bikes, cars, books, etc.) this way I can make them a bit personalized *smile* insha'Allah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ladybug Tot Lapbook Russian Language Files added

Assalamu alaikum,

Jazakillahu Khayr to dear sister Iman who so kindly (and quickly masha' translated parts of the ladybug tot lapbook into Russian masha'Allah! The Russian language ladybug files have been added to the post alhamdulillah!

Barak Allahu feki dear sis Iman (hug)!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Check it Out: Child's Play

Assalamu alaikum,

This book has many Montessori inspired activities for parents to do with their child(ren) that are fun and educational as well. The book has motor and sensory activities, language development activities, arts and crafts activities, and more, for children ages 12 months to 36 months. The author gives step by step instructions that tell you what materials you will need to do each activity and how to do the activity with your child insha'Allah.  

You can buy the book here or, the next time you're at the library...Check it out insha'Allah!


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