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!

 

I love paper

Assalamu ‘alaykum.

I do. Brown parcel paper, washi paper, scrapbooking paper, origami paper, wrapping paper, pages of books and magazines… even the plastic wrapping of food packets (which technically isn’t even paper but plastic). Some papers are great to look at, some smell lovely, some are amazing to the touch and some tick all those boxes. It is such a wonderful, versatile material and there is so much all around us, just heading for the recycling bag.

I usually prefer not to wrap presents because I think it is a bit wasteful and also because when I was a child and it was time for the traditional equivalent to “Santa Claus”  that is fed to kids in the village I come from, my mother never wrapped our presents; instead, she would stay up at night beautifully arranging the gifts for myself, my siblings and cousins as though she was dressing a shop window; there were toys, clothes, books, stationary… all decorated with sweets. Looking back, with the knowledge of what the financial situation of my family was back then, I realise it was not mountains of expensive gifts, but that is certainly what it looked and felt like to us children. This is usually how I give presents on Eid ul-Fitr.

Eid ul-Adha usually ends up being a smaller affair (because it follows the day of Fitr quite closely) and my children love ripping through what they call “paper presents” (i.e. wrapped up gifts), so this year I decided to be creative with the pile of cooking magazines I had to throw away (which, incidentally are full of very colorful full page pictures of food).

A quick research on pinterest and here it is: Our recycled magazine paper Eid decorations and gift wrapping! (gift bows included!!!!!)

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I had a lot of fun making this, it put me and the boys – who helped with the paper fans – in a very festive mood AND – when the festivities are over – the lot is going the get chucked in the recycling with a clear conscience. It was heading there anyway, at least it went out with a bang!

The basics of Hajj poster/map

Assalamu ‘alaykum.

Alhamdulillah, we are no longer in the complete darkness about the rites of Hajj! it’s not just multitudes of people dressed in white cloth and looking really busy…

I wasn’t feeling very creative up to a few days ago so I started a Hajj and Dhul Hijjah Pinterest board, where I collected some relevant talks as well as some activities I that I might find inspiring. I sketched down a list of the main rites that occur on the different days of Hajj (the format was inspired by this Hajj day by day activity) and a basic map of the main Hajj locations with numbered arrows to show the sequence of events. We reproduced this on a poster, adding the definitions of some Hajj related Arabic terms.

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It was a lot of fun to make it and we learned a lot. I am so happy to have come to grips with the basics of Hajj, alhamdulillah. We put the poster near the kitchen table, so these days we’ll be able to talk about it while sitting all together, insha’Allah. It seems to have worked well for Yusef too: he feels well versed about what goes on on Hajj (he was a bit concerned that they don’t have ihraam clothes at the moment*smile* all in due time insha’Allah).

Hajj themed counting activitiy

Assalamu ‘alaykum.

Today Bilal and I finished the Hajj activity we have been working on (with Yusef’s help) over the last few days. I won’t lie it was completely my idea and the boys were interested in the decorative aspect of it and left me to do all the “structural work” of gluing the finished product on heavy card, cutting that out and work out how to hang them… (who am I kidding here – I had lots of fun alhamdulillah!!!). Here it is:

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Each number 1-10 has 3 components: a card showing the number, a smaller one with the corresponding number of dots/stickers (I am sure there is a specific way to describe numbers written like this …) and a third part at the bottom with counted items, in our case Hajj related items. I’ll tell you what they are because some are … erm… less than obvious:

1- Ka’bah    2-Hills     3-Jamaraat    4-Airplanes    5-Mawaaqeet   6-Suitcases    7-Pebbles   8-Tents     9-Sheep     10-Pilgrims

I used some A3 coloured papers, each cut in half and each strip divided into 3 (with the middle one being about half the size of the other 2). Then I glued everything on card. I didn’t laminate because I knew I wanted to stick some sensory materials and textured papers on, but I supposed you could laminate the base and then stick stuff on top of it?

I had some craft papers which I used as well as an old map, scraps of colourful paper, cotton wool, gauze (for the ihram clothing!), and magazine/crossword paper… but the fun in these kind of project is that you can just rummage in your recycling bag/cupboards and use creatively what is already there! (fun fun fun).

The 3 components are put together with paper clips (fashioned into hooks) and holes punched at the top. I’ll be honest, I put them up this morning and by noon 3 had already fallen off (taping the hooks couldn’t hold the weight of the 2 bottom bits… enters the stapler!).

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They are meant to be removable so they can be used for a matching game that will help number recognition and – when Hajj season is over – we can make different cards for counted things according to whatever theme we want insha’Allah. Exciting!

Phases of the moon puzzle

Assalamo ‘aleykum.

As I mentioned in one of the Ramadan planning posts, I put together a quick puzzle of the moon phases for the boys. I got the idea from What do we do all day.

Here is how I made mine. First I picked a circle shape to trace and traced 8 circles on black card (for once the white pencil in the box came in handy, Alhamdulillah!) they need to be in a line, or, as in my case, on 2 lines on a A3 card that I then cut in half. I traced the same 8 circles on craft paper, 4 on dark paper and 4 on light (to represent the lit part of the moon) and cut them out. I traced the line I intended to cut on the back so that I had: 2 circles with no line, 2 with a line down the middle and the rest with a crescent traced at the back. I laminated the cut circles as well as the black base.

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Then, because I do not measure stuff, I held at the same time a dark and a light circle with the same line on the back and,  making sure they were both facing down, I cut them at once. I then swapped the halves between each pair that was cut together, so that one part was dark and one light, this way they fit together reasonably well with no need for much precision in tracing the lines.

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I applied some self adhesive Velcro dots and made some labels with the names of the different phases of the moon on a strip of craft paper, making sure I cut between each with a different pattern (which, I have learned, is called “error control”, clever!). We enjoyed playing with it (and I enjoyed making it, Alhamdulillah!), the kids now want it put up on the wall. They have been eagerly scouting the night sky for the Ramadan moons ever since, using it to tell how much of the month had gone.

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