Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sorting Activity Using Terracotta Plant Holders

Assalamu aliakum,

Terracotta pots and sorting? Yes. I found these terracotta plant holders (well they aren't really plant holders, they are the dishes that catch the water from the plant but their name escapes me at present) at the local bargain store and picked up a few with gardening in mind. But, they're shallow and small - excellent for sorting!


I decided to do an activity for older toddlers to help them to continue strengthening their sorting skills insha'Allah.
Sorting helps children build important critical thinking skills that will later be used in math and science. It also provides fine motor skill work as well.

This is the game/activity before it is ready to be played. I laminated the pieces that need to be sorted. The pieces are about the size of a quarter and can be easily damaged with frequent handling.


The larger circles have pictures that are identical to the game pieces. Those can be taped into the bottom of the terracotta dishes or if you laminate them, you can simply place them into the bottom of the dish. I think taping them down is good so they don't get lost.

The control of error in the activity is the larger circles that are in the bottom of the dish. They match the game pieces. The child can look into the dish and if one of the pieces/coins does not match the picture in the bottom of the dish, he/she can self-correct insha'Allah. You can read more about control of error in Montessori education here insha'Allah.

The game pieces are placed in front of the child (mixed up) and they are invited to sort the pieces into the correct terracotta dishes.



I intentionally placed pictures in the dishes that are very dissimilar. This will help the child visually discriminate between the two pictures that he/she needs to sort insha'Allah.


Of course, you can use something else other than terracotta pots (smile) for this activity. For toddlers, if the dish is somewhat shallow and allows the toddler to easily see inside while he/she is doing the activity this is great insha'Allah. You can even take two pieces of yarn or string, place them on the floor, place the larger disks inside of the circles and invite the child to do the activity this way insha'Allah.  

You can change the game (and its pieces) to match a theme you are doing: shapes, colours, seasons, food, flowers, toys...the possibilities are many subhana'Allah. You can download the game I used here if you'd like to use it insha'Allah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Islamic Colouring Activity

Assalamu aliakum,

This is a fun colouring activity that also allows parents/teachers to quickly assess if a child:

1). Is able to follow simple directions.
2). Knows some of their colours.

This is a simple Islamic colouring activity that has four matching direction cards. Each card has a simple fact about each picture and a request to colour each picture a specific colour insha'Allah. The parent/teacher reads the card to the child and then invites him/her to colour the picture the colour indicated on the card.


Parents and teachers can use this to quickly assess if a student is able to accomplish the two tasks mentioned above. This also allows the parent/teacher to get a snapshot of some skills the child may need further work in or to confirm that the child has mastered certain learning outcomes insha'Allah.

For parents of younger toddlers, this can be used to teach some basic colours insha'Allah or....you can just allow your child to colour and have fun insha'Allah! You can download the file here insha'Allah.  

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Check it Out: In the Small, Small Pond

Assalamu aliakum,

When I first read this book aloud I thought, "Here is yet another book that I really thought was going to be a 'handed to me over and over again book' but wasn't...alhamdulillah. Maybe my audience is still too young for this book."  I sat the book aside on the shelf. I didn't remove it because I intended to re-introduce the book a few days later insha'Allah. So, a few days later I suggested we read this book and I began. Small hands quickly let me know that I should stop (smile). I sat it aside again. Reintroduce it later I told myself and I read another story. The third time I read the book aloud I was asked to read it again and again alhamdulillah. Usually, I can't get away with trying to read a book a child just does not like - they don't stand for it (hehe) and toddlers that can talk will certainly let you know that they "don't like that book!" and this is why I suspect it was the illustrations that took some time to get used to (even for me). I think they stood in the way of appreciating the playful verses. The illustrations may be described as vivid but others may find them a bit busy at first. With that said, I still recommend the book because the story is cute and fun to read and artistic tastes vary (smile).


In the Small, Small Pond has very catchy rhyming verses that are short and expressive, making it fun to read and have read to you insha'Allah. As the spring is upon us alhamdulillah, this book may be a nice compliment to your planned spring activities insha'Allah. The book made me think of Umm Tafari (River City Homeshoolers) and her family as they just recently had a wonderful experience learning about pond life in their area. You can read her post here 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!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunny Days, Slow Week

Assalamu aliakum,

The sunny weather has me antsy and I've been a bit relaxed and keen to get outdoors. So a trip to the library was first on my list:


I only put 3-4 books on the shelf at a time. This way children have time to focus on the books and not be overwhelmed by the sheer number of books presented to them. Doing this, I find the books get read again and again and children have the opportunity to really enjoy the books alhamdulillah. From this stack, there are sure to be a few 'Recommended Books' posts coming soon insha'Allah.

Indoors, we've been blessed to witness the spouting of 4 of our plants alhamdulillah:



We then had some lunch time learning as well. In Montessori education, the teacher usually eats with her/his students at the same table. In this setting children have an opportunity to learn and practice courtesy, grace, manners and, as I learned, other practical life skills too! The activity below was borne of a lunch time experience late last week. As I sat eating my own lunch I noticed a small spoon make its way over to my bowl and in a very natural and nonchalant manner, take some of my food and transfer it to the plate of my toddler neighbour. "Well", I thought, "this can only mean one thing: this child may benefit and enjoy a transferring activity insha'Allah".  So I sat out an activity to help practice transferring and mentioned nothing of my missing piece of food (smile).


A regular sized teaspoon was initially put out with the activity but I quickly realized my mistake and replaced that adult teaspoon with a toddler spoon.


The toddler was successful having been given a spoon they could handle with ease alhamdulillah.

I've also been noticing that the salat (prayer) is quickly becoming a favourite here alhamdulillah. Of course, I want to encourage this so I provided a mini prayer rug and we read the book, "My Blue Prayer Rug". You can imagine how much the miniature prayer rug was enjoyed (smile).


My Blue Prayer Rug is a simple book I put together for my Kindergarten classroom but it's a hit here too masha'Allah. I did one for the colour green as well. The clip art is the same for each book as the main focus is repetitive text with many sight words and helping students learn the colour words. I have a bound copy for classroom use but you can download the books below insha'Allah.


If the weather remains sunny, I think it will be increasingly difficult for me to focus on crafts and not want to just go for a walk insha'Allah...hehe.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Check it Out: Look Book

Assalamu aliakum,

Our week ended with several things, one of which was a read aloud. The book we read is a visual treat for children. Without words, the author, Tana Hoban, perks children's imaginations in 'Look Book'.


Children first view an object through a round circle in the page. When the page is turned, a full colour photograph reveals what was initially seen in small detail. We had fun trying to guess what it was we were seeing through the small circle before turning the page. Infants and toddlers may enjoy this book as it is a wonderful springboard for parent - child one on one conversation. Insha'Allah, you and your child will enjoy this wonderful book too.

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!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Manner in Which We Speak to Children

Assalamu alaikum,

Allah says in the Quran:

وَلَمَن صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
{And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.}Surah Ash-Shura, ayah 43

and

وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
{who repress anger , and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).}
Surah Ali-Imran, ayah 134


and it is reported in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim,
that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said, "Allah is Kind and loves kindness in all matters.
It is also related in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said  He who is deprived of kindness and gentleness is, in fact, deprived of all good.

And again in Sahih al-Bukhari, it is reported that a man asked the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) to give him some counsel, and he (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said, "Do not become angry." The man repeated that several times and he  replied (every time), "Do not become angry."

Taking both the Divine Words of Allah and the truthful speech of His Last Messenger to mankind, I have often pondered over the way in which we interact with our children. They are weak and innocent and beautiful masha'Allah. During my web meanderings, I came upon this poem that I think speaks volumes about the importance of the way we speak and interact with children and the impact we leave subhana'Allah:

Tone of Voice

It's not so much what you say,

as the manner in which you say it;

It's not so much the language you use,

as the tone in which you convey it.


"Come here", I sharply said,

And the child cowered and wept.

"Come here", I said he looked and smiled,

And straight to my lap he crept.


Words may be mild and fair,

But the tone may pierce like a dart;

Words may be soft as the summer air,

But the tone may break my heart;


For words come from the mind

Grow by study and art,

But tone leaps from the inner self,

Revealing the state of heart.


Whether you know it or not,

Whether you mean or care,

Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,

Envy, anger are there.


Then, would you quarrels avoid

and peace and love rejoice?

Keep anger not only out of your words,

Keep it out of your voice.


`Author Unknown`

Enjoy (and reflect) insha'Allah!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arabic Alphabet Phonics Games

Assalamu alaikum,

I was watching this video (which also contains the instructions for how to use these games) and wanted to do the same game but for learning/practicing the Arabic alphabet and knowing the sound each letter makes. I modified the game to suit toddlers but also made a game for kindergarteners as well. These are easy Arabic Alphabet Phonics games that help toddlers increase vocabulary, learn the sounds the letters make, and help them with picture matching skills insha'Allah. For our learning environment, I put our games into a tot sized folder to make the boards easy to work with insha'Allah.

This is the tot version of the game


The game with all game pieces shown. I laminated all of the game pieces so that they would have a better chance at withstanding frequent handling insha'Allah (smile).

For toddlers, I put four cards out, one of which does not belong. After showing the child how to use the game, the child is invited to say the name of the picture and what letter it starts with and then place the correct picture on the board. For younger toddlers they are invited to simply match the picture cards with the pictures on the board.


The activity almost completed

When the child is done, he/she simply flips the board over to reveal another board to play with insha'Allah.

As the child's skill and proficiency increase insha'Allah, he/she moves on to play with boards that have six pictures.

This is another six picture game board


In Pre-K and Kindergarten, as you saw in the video, this game can be played in pairs insha'Allah. So, I also made a version for that age group as well alhamdulillah.


This is one of the kindergarten boards and some of the letter pieces. Kindergarteners match the beginning letter sound to each picture. There are two different boards in the file and the complete Arabic Alphabet. I've also included the name of the game in English.

These games are quite easy to make at home and you can change them to fit your child's learning needs insha'Allah. Here is the file used to make the games pictured here (it contains all boards and pieces insha'Allah). Here is an Arabic pronunciation chart for all of the pictures (keep in mind that I'm not the best at writing Arabic in English so I may be a little off on some words but I hope not...*smile*).

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sharing Beautiful Things

Assalamu aliakum,

Often I have spoken of how infants and toddlers appreciate beautifully crafted materials. Well, I'd like to once again show you some beautifully hand-crafted materials for infants and toddlers. These (and many more) wonderful materials were made by sister Eva from Handmade Beginnings masha'Allah:


Wooden Memory Numbers Game (Beautiful Yes?)


 I can set the table placemat

You can find (and buy) these beautiful materials from her Etsy story here. I think you can guess who is planning a shopping adventure in the near future insha'Allah yes (hehe)? Jazakillahu khayr dear sister Eva for allowing me to feature your gorgeous work here on 'A Muslim Child is Born'.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Craft supplies needed for activities presented here

Assalamu alaikum,

Over a month ago a sister asked me about a list of materials needed to do some of the crafts and activities here. My dear sister, first I sincerely apologize that it has taken me this long to post this and I hope that you will forgive me.

Second, when I began to really think about it, I realized that I am not sure if this is what you are asking for. If not please let me know and I'll give it another go insha'Allah (smile). This is a short/brief list of some of the materials you may need insha'Allah:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • glue
  • velcro
  • felt
  • construction paper
  • non-toxix paint (varying colours)
  • cardboard and card stock
  • work mats
  • wooden baskets (several, in different sizes and shapes)
  • yarn
  • craft sticks
  • cardboard boxes (different sizes and shapes)
  • crayons
  • file folders
  • clothes pins
  • craft foam
Dear sis, I hope that this is helpful (and what you were asking for).  Jazakum Allahu Khayr.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Miniature Felt Writing Notebooks

Assalamu alaikum,

Around 18 months of age toddlers begin to show an interest in writing, colouring, holding pencils, crayons, markers, etc. Observing that this has become a favourite pastime here, I decided to make some miniature writing notebooks to encourage this interest.

And I thought the ladybug phase had passed (smile)....

I was wrong. One of our books happened to have a picture of a ladybug/bird in it and that picture was enough to start the love of the ladybug all over again. Do you know how many times I heard the word ladybug that day? (smile) And please overlook the condition of our work table - it's been through play-dough, planting soil, spilled water, crayons, and other activities that contribute to its ever fading colour...hehe.

This is the inside of the notebook

This is a prayer rug miniature notebook

the inside

All I used to make these was cardboard and felt cut to the pattern of the books.


I first cut two cardboard patterns out and then traced that pattern onto the felt. For the ladybug/bird, I used the hot glue gun to attach the dots and to glue the black and red body together. When it was assembled, I glued the felt ladybug to the first cardboard pattern for extra durability. I used the second cardboard ladybug cut-out for the back cover and cut a single sheet of computer paper into four circles. Then I stapled them to the back cover and then stapled the felt ladybug front cover to the pages and back cover. The staples are hidden under the ladybug's head for safety. I used pipe cleaner for the antennae and used my hot glue gun to attach them to the back cover of the book. I intentionally put the antennae right over the second set of staples (those that were visible from stapling the paper to the back cover) so that when I glued them on, the hot glue would cover the staples and the pointing parts would be hidden safely under the glob of hot glue (I hope that is clear as I was not able to take pictures of the step by step assembly). The process was roughly the same for the prayer rug book.

These little notebooks were immediately written in (and coloured in) and I even took some time to sit down and doodle too!  There are many ways you can be creative with these insha'Allah. Kindergarteners can cut out felt and design their own book covers if provided with cardboard patterns insha'Allah. These are fairly easy to assemble and there are many ways to personalize them as well.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Check it Out: Elusive Moose

Assalamu alaikum,

This week (as with many weeks alhamdulillah) I've been doing a lot of reading aloud. Reading to toddlers is almost always interesting alhamdulillah. Sometimes the books that I choose (and like very much) do not win favour with the children....alhamdulillah. Still, each child and class is different. This book, Elusive Moose, while it is one of those books that I thought was going to be a hit but wasn't, may be a book that your child enjoys insha'Allah.


The verses of the book are short and fun and readers are encouraged to try to find the "elusive moose" on each page. The illustrations are all done with felt, buttons, etc. and that makes the book unique and (I thought) ascetically pleasing but here toddler taste decided that that wasn't the case...hehe.

With older toddlers and with kindergarteners, insha'Allah, the book can be used to introduce and/or explore the different types of animals that live in certain regions and their habitats. For younger toddlers, the book is a fun hide and seek read aloud that can be enjoyed by parent and child together 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, March 8, 2010

Arabic Alphabet Craft

Assalamu alaikum,

I wanted to combine our spring planning and planting with a painting activity so I decided that we would paint little tin pails with the Arabic alphabet. Perhaps we could call it the Arabic Alphabet Garden. Then we could plant our seeds and line up our painted pails along the window sill and watch the plants grow insha'Allah. No. We discovered that no, that would not work because the little pails that I bought were too small for a plant and there are no holes in the bottom for the water to drain!....hehe. Alhamdulillah. Still, we can use these little tin pails for some other craft project insha'Allah (no ideas come to mind just yet but khayr insha'Allah).




Before and After

What would you use these for?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Check it Out (with an activity): Tracks in the Snow

Assalamu alaikum,

Today we read a wonderful story book called Tracks in the Snow.


As an extension activity to go with the book, you can download this animal tracks matching game (this is not a game I designed and some of the pictures have faces but the file is in black and white so insha'Allah, it will be easy to remove the faces). There is also this online animal tracks concentration game that your children can play as well insha'Allah. Note: While the book itself can be read to infants and toddlers, these extension activities may be more suitable for children in Kindergarten.

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!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

DIY Horizontal Disk on a Dowel

Asssalamu alaikum,

This is a Montessori Horizontal disk on a dowel:


These are used to help infants practice hand-eye coordination. The infant has to focus on sliding the wooden disk onto the dowel and this is where the practice with hand-eye coordination comes into play. These also help infants and toddlers practice grasping with their fingers.

I seem to be in a DIY mood these days because I had the inclination to try to make one from materials commonly found in the home (well not the dowel perhaps but everything else insha'Allah...hehe)




The mistake I made was that I put the dowel too close to the top of the box. Alhamdulillah, the disks still balanced fine when they were put onto the dowel but I think it would look better if I'd put the dowel in the centre of the box. Lesson learned alhamdulillah.

You can make one of these at home using the following materials insha'Allah:

- sturdy small/medium cardboard box
- a dowel that is about 1/2 inch or larger (depending on your disks)
- brown paper bags with no writing or decorations
- hot glue gun
- glue stick or liquid glue
- an Xacto knife
- wooden disks

All I did was cover the box with the brown paper bags (with glue), cut two holes at opposite ends of the box, slide the dowel through and used a hot glue gun to keep the dowel from sliding around (I just put hot glue at each end point where the dowel protrudes from the box). Once dry it was ready to use alhamdulillah. It was quick, easy and inexpensive alhamdulillah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Photo credit: Nienhuis Montessori equipment for infants and toddlers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DIY Montessori Object Permanence Box

Assalamu alaikum,

Sometimes we'd like to use Montessori learning tools in our homes but when it comes down to it the materials can be expensive. But there is no reason to fret - many of the materials used in Montessori classrooms can easily be made at home with a little imagination insha'Allah and I believe that most homeschooling parents do not suffer from a shortage of imagination masha'Allah (smile).

I have no idea where this idea came from but all of sudden there it was swimming about in my mind. This is a do-it-yourself Montessori object permanence box made using craft sticks and a knob from a wooden puzzle destined for the trash bin because we couldn't figure out how to remove the facial features from the pieces. Well, I thought, recycle, reduce, reuse, and I took the knobs off of the puzzle before it leaves our ownership (trust me...my little grey cells are really working to figure out a way to get the faces off of that puzzle so it doesn't end up in the bin...hehe) .



For the lid, I took the knob from one of the puzzle pieces


and screwed it into the popsicle stick in the middle of the lid (before I glued it to be part of the lid) 


You can find tutorials for making boxes from popsicle sticks all over the internet but I used this one for the box I made.

Object permanence boxes are used to teach infants the concept of object permanence: the idea that objects exists even when they cannot be seen, heard or touched. It is believed, and waallahu alim, that the understanding of this concept develops in infants around eight months of age and some researchers believe even as early as three months of age. You can see some object permanence boxes here and then you may have ideas of how you can design your own at home to use with your infant insha'Allah.

For this box, you can place an object like a small yarn ball, a ping pong ball or a small velvet ball into the box and invite the infant to discover where the ball is. Be sure that you have the infant's full attention as you are placing the object in the box. You can say, "Watch ________ (child's name). I'm going to place the ball into the box insha'Allah". Then slowly remove the cover of the box (with slow exaggerated movements) put the ball into the box, replace the cover and ask, "_______ (child's name), where is the ball? Continue in this way as long as the child shows interest. Afterward, you can put this activity on a low shelf for the infant to play with independently as often as he/she wishes insha'Allah.

Enjoy insha'Allah!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Whoever Builds A Masjid... Felt Puzzle Activity

Assalamu alaikum,

Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said:
 من بنى مسجدا يبتغي به وجه الله،بنى الله له مثله في الجنة
 {"Whoever builds a Masjid for the sake of Allah, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise"
Agreed upon Hadith}.

Today we did an activity based on this hadith: 'Build a Masjid' Felt Puzzle

The Activity Completed

The puzzle blank

The activity in progress


I've used the same template that I used in the "It will almost always be a madjid" post because I just haven't gotten around to cutting out the other templates from the other masaajids I have.

How we made the puzzle:

1). First, we used a piece of flannel to make the masjid template that the felt puzzle pieces had to be matched to. Each part of the masjid is felt and the door has sandpaper attached to the back so it sticks to the felt (because the yellow part is felt, the sandpaper on the back of the felt green door helps it stick to the yellow part).


2). Then, we cut a piece of poster board to about the size of a children's picture book. So there are only two pages inside of the book - a right page and left page. We then coloured a background picture on the poster board.


3). Next, we took tissue and rubbed it in circles on the background we coloured.That took away the crayon look and gave it a smoother look alhamdulillah.


4). Then we glued the flannel masjid template to the background. 


5). And then we played alhamdulillah!


I think it would be great if I can print a picture of what the puzzle looks like correctly completed that way this will serve as the "control" and children can check their work against the picture insha'Allah. Also, you can glue the hadith about building a masjid for the sake of Allah to the other page of the book if you'd like or on the cover of the book (not pictured). This is the file we used (in Arabic and English):


Enjoy insha'Allah!

Participants

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