Fasting is a shield – a Ramadan chart

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

There wasn’t a pressing need for a Ramadan chart. There is lots of them around. However, my boys are into a bit of a castles/knights/medieval weaponry kind of phase. We are planning to design our own coats of arms tomorrow insha’Allah. I thought I could take advantage of this interest of theirs to tie in this very important and beautiful concept regarding the fast; I made a little chart with shield shapes for the child to colour one in (or fill it with a pattern) everytime he/she completes a fast, insha’Allah.

Fasting is a shield CHART

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May Allah grant us all a beneficial, peaceful and thankful month of fasting. May our fasting shield us from sin and from the Fire. Ameen.

Tafseer notebook – Juz’1

Assalamo ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

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When I thought of the Bitesize Tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah activity, I thought I would print out pages of the mushaf and stick them on a A4 notebook. Then I realised it would be a lot of sticking and a very fat notebook. It would be better to have the mushaf page printed in the corner of the notebook page.

I very simply put together these pages. It’s not very neat and crisp I’m afraid, but it will do the job insha’Allah. I did not find a ready made notebook online or a hard copy I could buy from somewhere for this part of the Qur’an (for other sections, like juz’ ‘Amma, you can download a Juz’ ‘Amma workbook from A Muslim Homeschool or buy a hard copy here for juz’ 30 and 29, masha’Allah). If someone out there knows where I can buy one for Juz’1, please let me know insha’Allah! So here it is:

Tafseer notebook – Juz’1

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I ask Allah He makes it of benefit for my children and myself and whoever else uses it. Ameen.

 

…and what is Ummi going to do this Ramadan?

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

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Us mothers, we tend to be very concerned with our children’s education and development into strong and sincere Muslims – and rightfully so. But do we give at least the same amount of thought and care to our own growth, strenght and sincerity?

This post is NOT about me. I am not going to sit there and expose my shortcomings. It is about people in a situation similar to mine: Muslim women that are at a stage in their life in which they are (intensively and extensively) caring for others.

Let’s take a hypothetical sister which we will call Umm ‘Abdullah. She is feeling somewhat apprehensive  at the thought of Ramadan approaching. That could be due to a low point in her Imaan, to the fact that she knows one should do so much more in Ramadan but the reality is that she doesn’t do much even outside of it.  Not much there to build on.  She might also feel overwhelmed by her committments and poorly equipped to make her Islamic education a priority in her life.

Wouldn’t it be great if we also had someone staying up late in the evening to prepare us a Ramadan calendar with daily treats? Maybe some Ramadan themed party games and a treasure hunt? or a month long “craft-athon”???? … maybe. But Allah has put us in charge of ourselves (among all the other people we care for). Each of us will not have to respond to Allah about little ‘Abdullah as much as she will have to respond about herself.

So, basically – and by Allah’s leave – it is down to us to take action to benefit ourselves.

Let’s ask for guidance: Allah is All Able to sort out the universe and everything in it so He can most certainly help us up on our feet and beyond. We must remember to ask.

Let’s take a look at ourselves: Right now. Not the way we used to be and do things before having kids, nor the way we envisage life when they will have all grown and moved out. Now. What do we need to learn about the most? In which area are we most deficient?

Let’s consider our individual skills and inclinations: What comes easy and what do we enjoy learning that can bring us closer to our Creator? What is the most efficient way for us to increase our knowledge of Him, ou love for His Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), our connection to His Qur’an…

Let’s take into account committments and time constraints: We must be realistic and flexible and don’t set goals that are to high and/or strictly connected to Ramadan. Leaving our husbands and kids to have to find their own dinner on a regular basis while we study all day is not a good idea. At the same time,  thinking that the children/babies/husband/work/mum/dad/chores/you name it make it impossible to take a little time to study something beneficial is simply not true.

I think a small and steady start is a beautiful thing. For example:

  • Choose a book to study or a set of lectures to listen to (plenty of very beneficial lessons on salafisounds, masha’Allah). Take notes. Draw mind-maps. Even better: pair up with a friend! you don’t have to meet up  necessarily (which could be difficult to keep up) but you can quiz each other, exchange notes and just share the benefits that each has found, as well as ideas to apply them to our life. Do what it takes for you to actually learn what is in the book/lecture.
  • Pick 4 ahadeeth (40 Nawawee is a great place to start) and memorise one each week of Ramadan, as well as studying the explanation. List benefits. List ways in which the hadeeth does (or should) impact on your life.
  • Attend Umm Mujaahid’s FREE daily class for sisters on WizIQ (to be notified about the course, create a Wiz IQ account and add Taalib Al-Ilm in your contacts); it is based on the book Fasting from Alif to Yaa, or just go through the book on your own or with your friends.
  • Dust off your Arabic books for the sake of Allah. Maybe conjugate a verb a day. Make flashcards. Use Memrise! It is such a wonderful tool for learning vocabulary and you get to use your competitive side to the advantage of learning (there is a score chart)! By the mercy of Allah, the Memrise course Arabic Through The Quran (based on the Alan Jones book) changed my relationship with the Qur’an because all of th Qur’anic vocabulary I learned. Alhamdulillah.
  • Try to speak Arabic. Maybe read a children’s book in Arabic everyday to your kids. Even the same one. Everyday.
  • Pick up your copy of Thalaathatul Usool or another core classical work. One of those things you never read enough, masha’Allah. Read the Arabic text and colour every word you understand. Try to memorise it. Learn the explanation. Teach it to your kids.

In fact, share any of the above things with your kids. Delivering what we have learned to others is one of the steps in consolidating that knowledge. Tell your husband/parents/siblings/friends what you have learned.

This is of course NOT meant to be an exhaustive list. Just a few ideas off the top of my head. Things that appeal to me personally.

Insha’Allah, let’s do something. Let’s take a step and may Allah grant us to please Him.

Of course, if anyone also wants to prepare a Ramadan calendar with a daily treat for me…. I like my chocolate dark. Barak Allahu feekum.

 

 

 

Summer : Thinking outside the bucket

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

I have learned what a “bucket list” is from Pinterest. I kept coming across them and, since me and the boys keep talking about what we should do in the Summer (only because the UK weather is likely to be less rainy then, we don’t really take Summer holidays…). I thought it would be fun to make our own. Especially today: baby H and myself have a cold and – alhamdulillah – last night was rough and I woke up feling a bit overwhelmed by my unwritten to-do list. For once I prioritised fun with the boys over the washing up. I did the most urgent jobs and left the dishes while we painted.

I let the boys pick the summery element we would use to write each item of the list. They picked ice lollies. I wanted pineapples (or t-shirt hanging on a string washing line… but I feared it would make the poster too heavy). I got to choose the technique: of course watercolour. Masha’Allah. Minimum skill, maximum splendour. I think most mammals with opposable thumbs could achieve a good result with watercolours!

You litterally just have to teach the child to use strokes rather than the back and forth motion we use to colour with pencils or felt tips. Masha’Allah. The beautiful layering of shades and transparency of watercolours creates a brilliant rendition of juicy ice lollies melting.

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I cut a template of the main shape from thin cardboard, we filled a few watercolour friendly sheets and coloured them without minding the lines (we were going to cut them anyway). Then we cut the sticks out of a brown envelope I had lying around. TA-DAH!

So here it is:

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(This lovely font is called “KG love you through it”)

I put it up in our usual poster display spot in the entrance after the boys’ bedtime. I can’t wait to see their reaction tomorrow morning insha’Allah.

Initially we kept it really simple and easily achievable, with entries such as these (even B had a go at writing on his own masha’Allah!):

Then Y started becoming much more ambitious…(the left photo below refers to archeological research, expressed is Y’s characteristically coincise style! … he has been digging up the garden in search of an ancient town…)

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Until, when we were about to finish and I had popped upstairs to change H, Y shouted up to me to ask whether he could write this entry and I though “yeah sure, why not?!”

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If our Summer is as fun as it was to make this poster, insha’Allah, it will be wonderful. We probably won’t need to go that far.

Ramadan:Art ideas on standby

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

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As I mentioned in a previous post about the upcoming Ramadan, this year there will be no painstakingly planned and organized arts and crafts for each day. Rather, I will have some ideas prepared. Ideas that can easily be realised with materials that I already have in the house or that are cheap or free (headed for the bin/recycling bag).

I will use this post to list my favorite art techniques and ideas that I collected from Pinterest AND to put together a little “shopping list” insha’Allah, just to make sure I have what we need to make something fun a purposeful if and when the boys feel arty (or hungry! …eh eh)

  • Watercolour techniques x7 (whatever scholarly opinion you follow about rubbing alcohol, I would most definitely not go for that technique. No need really.)
  • Tape-paint-splatter
  • Circle art
  • Tissue transfer art
  • Water gun painting (I am probably going to have them put some dried watercolour on the paper and then just squirt water on it)
  • Watercolours splodges
  • Abstract kitchen paper painting
  • Print, print, print! I mean print with anything. And I mean anything. I need to start keeping the off cuts of some vegetables in the freezer to use as stamps (the bases of celery and lettuce, halves of gone bad citrus fruits, gone bad potatoes: potatoes can easily be cut into very very beautiful stamps, masha’Allah. As always I am against the use of foodstuff that is suitable for human consumption for creative or play purposes. That’s just waste). Other interesting materials to use with paint are sponges, bubble wrap  and small balloons.
  • Washi tapes art
  • Raid the cupboards collages. I love food packaging: so many colours, interesting fonts and prints!

This is not an exhaustive list. We might just go with the flow (especially if the weather allows us to “flow” outside so we don’t have as much cleaning up to do insha’Allah!)

It might be clear from my list, but I am after a specific type of art. A flat type. I will encourage the boys to create some decorative paper that will be used for BOOKMAKING insha’Allah. And it won’t be just a random book: It will be an aid to immerse ourselves in the tafseer this Ramadan. Watch this space insha’Allah.

Below is the list of the things I plan to use if the need for art arises, insha’Allah. All I need to do really is to be aware of their exact location, insha’Allah.

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Ramadan 1437 Homeschooling “Plan”

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

Not much of a plan really, but here it is.

  • Fasting – that comes first, it is the month of fasting. It will not be imposed on the boys, but it will be encouraged. I didn’t look at this year’s timetables yet but last Ramadan we had 19 hour days here in the UK, and a few of those days were very hot too. Alhamdulillah. The boys will do what they can and my husband and I will watch them closely, to make sure they do not overdo it if it becomes too hard for them.
  • No secular studies for the whole month (aside from Ramadan, I don’t plan to take any time off homeschooling in the Summer). I think people (all people, not just school age kids) should get on with their work and studies during Ramadan, as the Prophet (salla Allah ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions did (i.e. they did not take a holiday nor did they shy away from doing what needed to be done because they were fasting). However, my kids are homeschooled and one of the perks of homeschooling is the flexibility, hence I choose for them to spend the month of Ramadan fully savoring the Ramadan athmosphere, insha’Allah. Plus, something tells me they won’t spend the days zonked on the sofa, being too weak to do anything….
  • We will be using the kids’ beloved Ramadan Mailbox, but this year they will collect “mail” twice daily, insha’Allah, in some DIY string envelopes I had lots of fun making (pattern for the tiny ones here, I copied it by eye to make it bigger. I used an old calendar of landscape picture of Sardinia that my mom got me when she went on holiday to – you guessed it – Sardinia!)
  • Every morning Y (8 years old) will find in the mailbox one tafseer card for his tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah activity.
  • Every morning B (who’s 5) will find in the mailbox a card from this 30 Days Ramadan activity – Find a Word in the Qur’an. (I just want to mention that I am using this activity but I don’t know anything about the site I took it from nor do I know who created it).
  • After the afternoon nap (that I am pretty sure we will all need!) the boys will collect a little treat from their mailbox. Either a collectible card (I chose 2 car themed sets: 1,2) or a few stickers to complete some sticker books (I got a space one for Y and a farm one for B – who is more down to earth, masha’Allah, eh eh…). I thought of the way the Sahabah used to encourage their children to fast and, when it became hard for them, they would distarcted them with a simple toy. This can either work in a similar way or as a little reward for those whose fast is already broken. Alhamdulillah. (I just want to mention how picking the theme for those cards was so hard! animals= needless images, since we already have lots of material covering animals, planes/ships= too warlike? cars = glorification of pointless luxury? footballers = no way. So much wrong with I don’t even know where to start… so I picked the car because -let’s face it – given the way we live, insha’Allah, I think the boys will appreciate the engineering/ mechanical aspects rather than the “got tons of money to burn” one. I strongly doubt they will feel deprived because we cannot afford a Bugatti Whatnot. May Allah protect us) Below, the daily ramadaan treats as well as my beloved envelopes!

 

 

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  • B will have a Ramadaan themed coloring book (free printouts insha’Allah). Let’s face it, he will see his brother’s tafseer workbook and will want one too. I used these lovely (and FREE) covers for both bound workbooks.
  • The boys will probably want to have some crafts AND make some recipes, so I will make sure I have something on standby. I have a lot of materials leftover from last year and there’s always paints, watercolors and paper!
  • This is a simplified version of my friend Umm Abdurrahman’s great idea: In case they need extra distraction, I will take out some toys they haven’t played with for ages. I just have to be aware of exactly where they are stored, insha’Allah. If they are anything like last year (out in the garden practically all day, fasting or not) I might not need this one.
  • Last but not least, I created a Ramadan 1437 Pinterest board to collect everything I come across and find interesting from crafts to recipes, coloring books to Eid favours for friends etc.

Alhamdulillah, this little preparation was enough to get that Ramadan buzz, masha’Allah. I ask Allah to let us reach this Ramadan and gain maximum benefit from it, ameen!

 

Bitesize Tafseer – Surah al-Baqarah

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

Here is the actual tafseer “bites” I promised in my previous post on my Ramadan plans, alhamdulillah.

Bitesize tafseer – Surah al-Baqarah ayah 1-48

 

As usual, it is a very basic production! but insha’Allah the possibilities for decorations are endless! (may I suggest color coding?).

After the pages containing the actual tafseer cards, I included a chart showing which ayah (or part or an ayah, or word) each card refers to. Please note that the in the chart the tafseer might be worded slightly differently in some cases. Print the pages with the chart only if you need to and remember that they contain actual Qur’anic text so when ou are done you will need to dispose of them  appropriately.

I ask Allah – who love constant good deeds, even if they are small- to accept this humble effort and keep it going and to let my children and anyone else who uses it benefit from it. Ameen.