DIY Calendar

Assalamualaikum & Marhaba!

We made this super easy diy magnetic calendar to review our days of the week and weather.  Everything is from Bugaboo City except for the days of the week and months. I can’t remember where I had printed those from, but I had already laminated them so I used them (Bugaboo City’s are much cuter).  There are a bunch of adorable add-ons that I did not include in our calendar. 

This will be the first introduction to a calendar with dates, months, etc. for the kids. I really like that the thermometer is simplified for younger children.  What a great way to incorporate the idea of temperature! Layaan loves to count to 100 and this will be great practice to review her number skills.  We made pockets out of construction paper taped to the back of our board to store all the other pieces. 

The kids already love it and I am so pleased with how it looks and adds a pop of color to our homeschooling room. 

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Hajj Unit Study: Introduction

Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!

Eid Mubarak to all of my Muslim readers!

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It has been far too long since I posted.  A quick explanation – I wanted to focus all of my attention on preparing and setting up a strong homeschooling routine.  I was all over the place before I started the KHT Online Montessori course.  I took time to organize myself and prepare.  I will be posting more about it all soon! Continue reading

Cooking with Infants to Pre-Schoolers

Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!

I find cooking dinner the most stressful part of the day.  I am usually rushing so that I can feed the kids, bathe them, and have them in bed early.  And most of the time, my kids tend to be the least cooperative at this point.  I always aim for it to be their “free play” time with their blocks or legos, but it never seems to go quite as I imagine.  Lately, I have been finding ways to get them both involved with special tasks to help.  Here are some tips for moms who need to get a meal on the table.

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Layaan helping me pan fry a fish fillet.

Continue reading

Eid Toy Drive: Charity for Pre-School Ages

Assalamu’aliakum & Marhaba!

Last month, as we were shopping for Eid presents and new clothes, my daughter who normally does not ask for anything when we are out, wanted everything “for Eid.”  I realized she was missing the true meaning of Ramadan; a time of worship, increasing in good deeds, and most of all giving.  I decided to organize a toy drive with some of the other moms for a local orphanage.  It was an act of charity my children could actively participate in despite their young ages.

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Preparing the Kids

Mini Discussions

I would have little chats with the kids every couple of days to help prepare them.  Some things we discussed:

  • To share with those who do not have as much as we do
  • To show gratitude to everyone around us and most of all to Allah (swt)
  • Children who do not have mothers or fathers or both (orphans)
  • Children who live in a group home (orphanage)
  • Children who do not have toys, clothes, or are hungry
  • To say and do good and kind things for others (thank you, you’re welcome, please, share, etc.)

Practice Kindness and Giving Daily

We all teach our children to be good to one another and share (I hope hehe) throughout our normal routines.  However, I made even more of a conscious effort to draw attention to the acts of kindness and giving we practice throughout the day that sometimes go unnoticed.  When one wanted a snack, I would ask the other to bring it to them and eat together and consistently repeated “thank you for sharing and being kind.”  When my daughter clears the table, I simply say, “Thank you for helping me clear the table.”  Soon enough, she was thanking me for a delicious meal herself.  If anyone forgot their manners, she was also ready to remind us…kindly of course.

Books about Giving/Charitable Actions

We used the Alhamdulillah for Series to spark discussions about the various things we were grateful to have and made corresponding crafts to represent those ideas in a concrete form.  This series really helped us appreciate everything around us while also teaching the kids not everyone has the same blessings.  We read our collection of Ramadan books which developed the concept of charity further.  The books, Ramadan Moon, Ilyas & Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid al Fitr, and It’s Ramadan Curious George, were our favorites.

Picking Presents

Shopping for Gifts

Truthfully, I was a bit nervous before we set out to buy gifts for our assigned children.  I thought it would be really hard for my daughter, who was doing the actual toy picking, to do it for another child.  She kept repeating, “These presents are for the children who do not have mommies and daddies.”  Before we began, I explained that as Muslims when we give to others,  we give what we would want for ourself or better, so to pick out things that she would like to have herself.  Luckily, our assigned kids were near her age so it was easy.  She picked out a large set of blocks, legos, play-doh, and a set of pre-school balls and cones.  She was ridiculously excited and surprisingly did not ask me for one thing for herself.

Wrapping & Making Cards

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Both of the kids had a great time helping me make personalized cards.  Layaan wanted to make sure it was beautiful and special.  We had a great time wrapping the presents and talking about how happy the kids will be once they see them.  Her genuine excitement and interest made this the highlight of our Ramadan.

Visiting the Orphanage and Distributing the Gifts

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Layaan passing out lollipops.

When we arrived, Muhammad instantly was drawn to all of the children.  I did not have to worry about him one bit.  Layaan did not budge from my side and had a pretty serious look for most of our visit.  The kids at the orphanage seemed as though they were used to visitors which made me a bit sad.  It felt as if they were trained to greet donors in a specific way that was not very personal, so I tried my best to get to know them a little more than the lines they were forced to repeat.

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The smiles though.

The best part was handing out the presents to these incredibly sweet children.  I could tell Layaan was a little anxious, but once she saw the huge grins on the kids’ faces, her anxiety turned into excitement.  I, on the other hand, was totally thrown off by Muhammad!  I was shocked that my 23-month old was handing out these presents with such a mature attitude, Masha’Allah!  Some of the other moms also came with their own kids and were elated their kids were able to take part in this.

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Layaan & Muhammad passing out gifts.

One of the moms present even made goody bags for each of them with her children.  Another mom sent these beautiful flower lollipops along with me since she could not make it herself.  These little acts were so greatly appreciated by the kids, that I definitely underestimated their value.

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Flower lollipops made by one of the mothers and her children.

These children had nothing that they could call their own except for a small amount of clothes, their beds, and their schoolwork.  They could not believe we got each of them their own personal gifts.  It was touching and unforgettable for us all.  Layaan and Muhammad got so much more out of this experience than I thought they would.  Towards the end, all of our kids joined in with the children as they were playing with their new gifts forming new friendships.

For donations, please visit here.

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Rumah Aman, Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Under the Sea Unit Study: Getting Started

Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow American readers!  We enjoyed watching everyone’s snaps and seeing all the pictures of the firework displays around the country.

On the other side of the world, we are trying to get back into a homeschool routine post-Ramadan and moving to KL.  To get the ball rolling, we are starting a themed unit, Under the Sea.  The idea was sparked by a visit to an aquarium in Monte Carlo on our last vacation.  Layaan could not contain her excitement when she found “Nemo” and “Dory.”  As we walked along, Muhammad was wide-eyed and repeating, “Wooooow,” the entire time.  So it only felt appropriate to learn more about ocean animals.

Getting Started

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I prefer to organize all of my ideas and plan activities in advance to give myself enough time to gather materials, books, and supplies.  Rather than placing a limit on the amount of time we spend on each unit, I am beginning with introductory activities and allowing the children’s interest to carry us through the unit study.  Furthermore, Layaan’s Arabic tutor is working on the unit during their lesson time.

Books

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I try to get a variety of different types of books.  Eric Carle’s Mister Seahorse was a perfect fit for this unit.  Layaan and Muhammad love his books as much as I do.  It introduces the child to various types of fish, their names, the life cycle of fish, and other sea animal facts all in an engaging picture book format.

There are many beautiful nonfiction children’s books about ocean animals.  My criteria for their age were simple facts and attractive photographs.

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What Lives in the Sea? is an easy to read informational text for young learners.  It introduces basic concepts about different sea animal habits such as feeding and protection.  And then, it goes on to describe a few facts about each animal stated simply for young children.

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The Magnificent Book of Ocean Creatures is a giant book that I got for a steal at the bookstore Popular here in Malaysia.  I love it because not only is it hard cover, the illustrations in the book are beautiful and giant for each animal.  It provides more information than the previous book, but is still not too overwhelming.  The format is a nice introduction to an encyclopedia-style layout for elementary readers.

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Fuzzy Ocean was another awesome find at Popular.  I knew Layaan would enjoy this book, but I was thinking of Muhammad, twenty-three months old, in particular when I spotted it.  Felt pieces and play scenes are perfect for little toddler hands, especially ones who have a hard time handling things gently.  I plan to use them in matching activities to help build his vocabulary.

Activities

Seashell Transfer (2-3 years)

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This activity is for Muhammad, but Layaan enjoyed practicing it too.  At the local discount store, Mr. D.I.Y., I found bags of little seashells.  I introduced him to the word “seashell” in Arabic, صدف (sadaf).  I showed him how to place the seashells in the tiny basket.  We observed the different colors and textures.  Surprisingly, he came back to the activity with a set of tongs to transfer the seashells with instead.  It was a little challenging at first, but he was determined.  Eventually, he was able to get the hang of it in one sitting.

Clownfish Craft (3-6 years)

As I mentioned earlier, Layaan loves “Finding Nemo”, so it was a no brainer when I found this clownfish texture craft at Mr. D.I.Y.  This one is a bit challenging, and one we did together.  The kit did not include kid-friendly instructions, so she needed my guidance throughout.  I provided her with verbal instructions, and she did the rest. It was a great way to learn the simple parts of a fish such as fin, tail, scales, gills, mouth, eyes, etc while she glued each piece on.  We plan to do extension activities to further reinforce the parts, and read more about clownfish using our informational texts.

Ocean Themed Cutting and Gluing Practice (3-6 years)

Layaan wants to cut everything recently.  She even managed to sneak away the scissors and chopped a small bit of her hair.  Thankfully, it was not anything noticeable.  Thus, cutting practice is at the top of the list.  Learning how and when to use scissors and allowing her plenty of time to practice is helping her become more responsible with them.  After she finished cutting each piece, I extended the activity to include gluing practice.  I found this free printable over at Welcome to Mommyhood where there are plenty of ideas for ocean themed montessori activities.

Stay tuned as we continue our explorations under the sea!

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