Activities – Ages 5-8

Ramadan 1434

Subhanallah…my last post was in June and now it’s already August. I have been abandoning this blog. Am just struggling with responsibilities and commitments on my plate.  This Ramadan is different. To start with, in the month approaching it, I wasn’t really prepared for it in the sense that I had plunged into a project that took me out of the house 3 days a week, lugging the kids with me some of the times and rushing too. It was hectic.

However alhamdulillah, I did get a repriece about a week or so before Ramadan to do my usual pre-Ramadan planning. But I think maybe that my frame of mind wasn’t prepped up and so when Ramadan did roll around, I was out of sort. Really out of sort.

S continued with her Taleem all the way till the last 10 days. So she basically still had class in the mornings till 1:30 pm Mon-Thur. I pleaded with hubs ti enroll N and H in Wisam’s Revved for Ramadan, because I was really overwhelmed and didn’t think I could do anything with them this Ramadan like I have been doing for the past 13+ years. I’m getting old. Even for Z, it was a last minute set up Ramadan activity prep. I decided to do the names of Allah with him and the Quran Prophet stories mazes. But even then, I didn’t really manage to do it consistently with him. Subhanallah…I think….having kids that far apart, is challenging for me. The 3 older kids have different needs and Z has different needs. I’m finding myself really exhausted having to repeat what I did with the older kids when they’re at Z’s age right now. I know that sounds like a cop out, but to be honest, I’m also ready to move on subhanallah. So I think you can kind of guess what my Ramadan dua is centered around based on that.

The girls helped make the set up for Z’s Ramadan prep. S wrote the names of Allah in Arabic, 30 of them, 1 for each day, and N wrote it in English, then they rolled up the papers tightly into tiny scrolls and inserted them into a balloon and blew them up. Hubs insisted on buying balloons at the Dollar store, so as the girls blew up the balloons and hung them at our staircase, we heard them popping one by one. If they didn’t pop, they would shrink. Hmpph..cheap balloons! What a waste of $1!

So we went and bought balloons at Wal Mart, supposedly better quality. I don’t know, and it’s saddening (for Z’s sake) but they all shrunk. Some popped (not as much as the Dollar store balloons) but all of them shrunk. So they all look like colorful hanging cow udders in our living room. Sigh. Poor Z. Last year, I did the Ramadan chain for him in Ramadan. This year, it’s the balloons, but it turned out this way. I think maybe it’s the New Mexico dry desert heat or something? It’s just weird. We did this in Ohio and none of the balloons shrunk or even popped !

So I have been doing the names of Allah with Z, everyday till recently when he got sick and N also got sick and we forgot to take down the balloons. As for the maze, oh forget it, I keep forgetting to do it with him too.  I think maybe I have trouble managing my personal schedule and the kids’. Subhanallah….maybe I set too high of goals for myself this Ramadan that I actually grew depressed when I couldn’t meet them in the middle. Alhamdulillah Allah granted me the tawfeeq for hope and bounced back towards the end alhamdulillah. All those lectures helped alhamdulillah.

Z did finish memorizing surah al Maun though, and we also resumed his Calendar notebook. I just feel lousy with his schedule really. I feel like such a bad homeschooling mom. The older kids will all be doing high school work this fall inshaaAllah. Just yesterday, we were going over their weekly schedule next semester. i really pray they all are trustworthy and responsible enough to stick to their schedule without needing me to hover over their shoulders and nag them. I am really really tired of doing that subhanallah. It’s my highest source of stress on a daily basis. There were days when I feel like just leaving them on their own and letting them suffer the consequences, but then I think,

“Oh great, if they suffer, what’s going to also suffer is our finances since we paid for those classes, and it doesn’t just involve them, but also the teachers they are working with!”

This is why I feel that if I send them to school, it will be even MORE stressful! I can just imagine the teacher calling me for one of them in particular,

“Mrs. H, we need to talk. __ hasn’t been sending in his/her assignments on time. …”

and I’m pretty sure I’ll still need to either do the assignment with that child or make sure the child does it and I’m just going to be even more irritated because it’s under the jurisdiction of another authority figure. So, never mind. You’d think that sending them to school would make it easier for me. No. It won’t. On the contrary.

N and H went for therapy throughout the summer and alhamdulillah both have made good progress with their individual problems. N is to continue in fall inshaaAllah. I’m amending our weekly schedule. Library day will no longer be Tuesdays but will change to either Friday or Thursday. N and H’s Tuesdays will be tight tight tight.

This fall, this is their schedule: All classes are online.

S :

  • Mon- Thur : 6:30 am – 1:30 pm – Live class Taleem Quran
  • Wed : 11 am – Live class Ancient Egypt
  • Will continue English 11 using the Bedford Reader

N & H

Mon : Home2Teach class –

  • Descriptive Writing (H) 10 am,
  • Narrative Writing (N) 9 am

Tue :

  • 8-9:30 am Live class Biology
  • 10:30-11:30 am Live class 20th Century History
  • 12-12:45 pm Live class HomeBookStudy Literature

Wed:

  • 9:15 -10:15 am Live class Interior Design
  • 11 am -12 pm Live class Ancient Egypt

Thur:

  • 3-4 pm: N’s Therapy on campus

Fri:

  • 8:50 – 9:10 am N’s Hifdh on Skype

 

I have yet to schedule in our post fajr tafseer and Arabic with Husna sessions.

For Z, my rough plan is to focus on handwriting Roman letters, Arabic, Math, Reading comprehension, hifdh, IQRA Quranic reading. He’s no longer going for speech therapy because hubs doesn’t want to pay the co pay after we no longer have one of his insurances. I also would like for him to be a part of a soccer team just so he gets that kind of social interaction, but hubs is not willing to spend the week taking him to practice and games. I told him we’re too old for this. Sigh. Subhanallah. If hubs doesn’t want to do that, I’m going to have to enroll Z in the Gym magic Gym program then. He needs something like that. It’s his rights on us parents.

We will continue using the calendar notebook since I feel that doing it daily helps reinforce some concepts in math for him, like telling time (to the minute), skip counting by 5s, number equations, odd, even, place values, greater than, lesser than, money. So it’s pretty good and comprehensive alhamdulillah. In fact, I feel he’s pretty good at math so far. I’m worried about his reading comprehension, even though he can read, I don’t think his comprehension is that high. The therapists keep telling me that he’s advanced for his age, but I don’t really buy it because New Mexico has literacy problems, so I’m not going to base my standard on that. He’s also been taking the older kids’ poster boards that they made in the past years and he’s been asking me,

“I want to do this too!”

I just feel somewhat depressed that I no longer have the energy nor will to do these kind of things with him like I did with the older kids subhanallah. May Allah give me the tawfeeq. Ameen.

I used to do things from scratch with the older kids, but with Z now, I’m looking for pre-made templates that others have prepared. What a change subhanallah. The good thing is though….there are a LOT of resources out there made by wonderful amazing energetic homeschooling moms! I do feel ancient subhanallah! My prime years have gone by.  I keep asking Allah to make it easy for me with all other things I’m doing, that Z becomes quick learner. So far, so good alhamdulillah. I also remember Sr Taimiyyah Zubayr saying that at times, we mothers are haunted by the thought that if we don’t stay with our child all day every day, tending to him dilligently, the child won’t learn. But in truth, it’s Allah who nurtures this child, Allah is the rabb, and He is the One who gives this child the knowledge, and the means for that knowledge etc. We mothers should do what we can do, and if we are also serving the community, we shouldn’t let this thought stop us from contributing to the community. So there are times when I’m stuck in a rut, in a dilemma and turning to Allah for guidance. At the end of it, it really is a matter of better time management on my part and sacrificing some things. For sure, some things that have been sacrificed is food. I haven’t been enthusiastic in cooking and I haven’t baked for ages. The older kids are doing most of cooking and even chicken cleaning and cutting. Alhamdulillah. They do somewhat complain that I haven’t been providing elaborate meals. Some of the things they mention, they don’t even remember that I have made them before when they were younger. They do blame it on Z though. it is part of the reason, due to his allergies, I figure it’s too stressful to cook/bake some things that has stuff he can’t eat because then I’d be cooking/baking 2 separate things. It has really taken a toll on me so I now cook anything that is edible. What can I do? I’m only one person.  The thing that does hurt me a bit is that there is a kind of ingratitude in the older kids in this. They forgot what I have done in the past, and they focus on what I don’t do. Then they take on the task themselves, and deem me as not doing anything. May Allah guide them to gratitude. May Allah guide ME to gratitude! Ameen.

May Allah help me achieve a good and proper balance in fulfilling others’ rights upon me. Ameen. There are days when I feel so depressed and stressed out, and the only thing that consoles me is the Quran and Allah. Parenthood…is really…something. Different when the kids are young and equally different and unique when the kids are teens. Indeed. I’ve even relegated each set of 2 taraweeh rakaat for each child in an 8 rakaat taraweeh.

H has been leading the tahajud qiyaam during these last 10 nights, and we realize that subhaanallah…he really needs a good stable teacher…and appropriate supportive company. No one else here is doing what he is doing and so he’s been doing this for years on his own. I’m guessing it takes a toll somewhat one way or another. Even though in the home, we also do it, there needs to be outside support from the community too.

May Allah forgive us. Ameen.

Alhamdulillah the girls went to the soup kitchen during Ramadan and S said lady remarked to her,

“Oh you don’t have to come all the way from another country to serve us here!”

S replied, “I was born here.”

The lady then said, “In my religion, we don’t cover our hair unless we’re really good.”

LOL

These last few nights of Ramadan, the girls have been sleeping at the masjid for semi-i’tikaaf, and they have been going to the masjid for the qiyaam at the masjid too. In the beginning of Ramadan, my schedule with the older kids are as such:

Post Fajr :- S recites her memorization of kahf to H while I listen to N’s tajweed as she recites for 10 min to me. Then, once H is done listening and checking S, he recites to me and N goes to recite on her own.

Post Zuhr :- I recite to H my revised portion for that day

Post Asr :-

  • H recites his revised portions to me for that day
  • N recites her revised portions to S for that day

But there were days when we fell short of sticking to this schedule and since the kids go to the masjid for qiyaam in the last 10nights, we have dropped the post fajr routine. It’s hard (in some ways) when the kids are older and more independent (can’t believe I’m saying this) because it’s harder for me to keep them together and stick to a schedule and herd them as one flock. Subhanallah….and that throws me off. it really does. I just need to learn how to manage this reality.  It reminds me of the word zhurriyah which can be translated as progeny. It comes from a root that has the meaning of ‘to scatter’ and true indeed, our children scatter. They scatter when they’re young and when they’re grown. In different ways. But yes, they scatter. This is just another stage of parenthood I’m entering and I guess it feels like being hit by a high-speed train sometimes. I’m left reeling and dazed, and I lose my bearings, and walk trying to find my way back like a blind person. When I finally find my way, I get hit again. At the same time, I’m barely holding on to this tiny lone hand by my side who still needs me to lead him step by step, but as the train hits me again and again in intervals, I lose his grip. That’s what it feels like. May Allah make it easy. Ameen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Activities - Ages 10 and up, Activities - Ages 5-8, Community, Cooking, Course Planning, Family, High School, Homeschooling, Juggling Multiple Kids, Memorizing, Outsourcing, Quran, Ramadan, Soup Kitchen, Teaching Challenges, Thoughts, Time Management, Z's learning | 4 Comments

Impromptu Mock Hajj

I don’t have class today and tomorrow, so it’s a little light alhamdulillah, though I’m still weighed by the grammar lessons I have to make up, and the LI review recordings I have to listen to. But, in light of a relatively light day compared to my usual weeks, I decided to spend time with the kids, especially Z.

I didn’t have anything planned for him, so we simply did the addition chart on his Hajj theme pack, using counting chips and his ‘acorns’,

After setting up Z’s Cool Corner/Space, we finally had a stable resource center to dig from. Alhamdulillah.

 

I bought this dry erase writing kit from Wal mart and as I suspected, Z was obsessed with it. After he was done obsessing with it though, we still use it as reference on how to write the numbers and letters. He also now understand the idea of writing his letters within the lines. Alhamdulillah!!!

 

and completed one chart. I put it away and asked him what else he wanted to do. He took out his lapbook. The idea of doing this was apparently still lingering in my head, and before long, I found myself all hyped up. This state is familiar to the older kids. Whenever I get an idea for something, I get over excited and I start talking and asking their opinions and well, this is when I start to come up with something completely impromptu. That seems to be the theme in my life (not always a good thing).

We were taking out the hujjaaj, and I was thinking to just maybe have the paper hujjaaj make hajj around a cube. When my idea hit, I took a roll of butcher paper, unrolled part of it, laid it out, looked for stuff to use to make this, and before long, we had this going on:

I gave him the snap-on cubes (from the kindergarten days of the 3 older kids) and told him to make a cube for the Kaabah. He was able to figure it out by himself. Then he made the pillars for the Jamaraat. He even said,

“It’s tall, taller, tallest.”

He made them different heights on purpose.

We made the tents by fold index cards in half.  I wrote the names of the places on the paper with pencil and had him trace them with marker.

We followed the steps of Hajj from this Hajj Theme pack and had our two hand0picked hujjaaj do the hajj.

 

When picking which hujjaaj for each of us, I asked him,

“I’m picking ti’sa. Which Hujjaaj are you going to pick?”

“Khamsa.”

He can count from 1 -10 in Arabic now but he still is confused between 7 and 8. To this day, I’m still confused between 2 and 6. So…

I played the mock hajj with him once or twice and then he wanted to play with N. N wasn’t available and so H played with him. I left them on their own to figure out the steps of Hajj. So I suggested they refer to the lapbook step by step for hajj rites.

 

They started making tawaaf at the Kaabah.

 

Going 7 times between Safa and Marwa

 

At Arafah, making dua.

 

Staying at Muzdalifah, and picking pebbles to throw at the Jamaraat.

 

Throwing the pebbles at the Jamaraat. We always managed to knock over those pillars, much to Z’s amusement.

 

Slaughtering. I couldn’t find anything else to represent a goat/ram. 😛

 

This was fun and the best thing was, is that it was impromptu and it worked out with Allah’s help! Allahu Akbar! This was waaaaaay easier than sitting down and breaking my brain to come up with a nice activity idea. Over the years, I’ve had to reprimand my perfectionist tendencies. Having kids taught me to curb it, and subhanallah, I think I’m down to being almost perfectly normal inshaAllah. A lot of stress forced me to come to this level. Wisdom behind tests 😀

 

I also retold the stories of Ibrahim and Ismail and Ismail and Hajr and Ibrahim and Ismail building the Kaaba. For the story of Ibrahim and Ismail, I actually took his hand and we somewhat ‘acted’ it out. With the story of Hajr and Ismail, I used props to show how she scooped the sand to form a wall around the gushing spring of zam zam and replaced slaughtering Ismail with the polar bear (supposedly the ram). Since it was impromptu, it turned out to be an amusing story that I can only tell to my kids and no one else, lest I die of embarrassment.

 

The zamzam spring contained, and the ‘ram’ to be slaughtered. We actually also had the hujjaaj drive from Makkah to Madinah after they finished hajj, to visit Masjid an-Nabawi.

 

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. May Allah continue to inspire me and make it easy. Ameen! And may I never be ungrateful! Ameen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Family, hajj, Islamic Studies, Kindergarten Math, Learning Games, Living Islam, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zulhijjah and Hajj and Eid Al Adha

Pre-Activity:

I’m rushing, trying to find something for Zulhijjah, and Hajj in terms of discussion, activities for the kids, all of them. I started with Z because I know Umm Nu’man has stuff on Hajj mashaAllah. I printed the Hajj theme pack, Hajj Story Board/Game, Hajj Game, and Hajj Addition and Subtraction Activity. While I was printing it, Z saw me and immediately had this excited look on his face and said,

“I want to do that!”

He helped me take the printed sheets out, and wanted to start right away but as I’m typing, I am still organizing and printing and cutting. He’ll just have to wait till next week inshaAllah.

I still have to figure out what to do with the older kids.

As of now what is coming to mind is:

  • look up ayaat in Quran pertaining to hajj
  • read translation, word analysis, listen to tafseer on them
  • find out the virtue of 10 days of zulhijjah
  • listen to lectures related to hajj/zulhijjah together and then discuss

Right now I can’t really brainstorm much activities so these will have to do for this year.

Post Activity:

I started the session by going over the book that we have Tell Me About Hajj. Impromtu, as usual (and no, I’m not proud of this, just stating it because that’s how things always end up because of tight schedules and stress), I just started explaining to him about the Kaaba and related rituals of Hajj based on the photos in the book. I didn’t expect him to be that captivated, but subhanallah, he was. There is just something about the kaaba that pulls you. I pointed out that the Masjidil Haram is the name of the masjid where the kaabah is in, and that its middle part doesn’t have a roof, but the sides does, and people go up on the roof to pray and it also overflows onto the streets. I know he is fascinated by this because he used to watch this

and would repeatedly ask me,

“Why are they praying on the road?”

once I pointed that out to him. I guess it baffles him that people would spill over onto the road and not fit inside a masjid.

As we went through the book, I told him that there is a story about the zamzam but that I’ll tell him that later, and that there are stories around the Kaaba but that I would tell him later. We went through the Hajj theme pack, and I had trouble organizing myself even though I organized it last night. We started with the Hajj Step by Step, and I focused on having him recognize the main locations of the Hajj manaasik. We also did the Last Minute Hajj game with the 10 hujjaj, though I was a bit thrown off by the rhyme Umm Nu’man provided in the activity. I fumbled through it and then decided to modify the game.

What I did(based on the 5 little monkeys):

10 little hujjaj down by the haram

Making tawaaf around the kaabah

The guide soon called them all to come back

But only one hujjaj came walking back

And we worked down till there only 1 hujjaj left. He loved this and we did it again and again,  didn’t object much when I asked him to do these activities:

1. I would tell him to get me hujjaj #___, and then get hujjaj #___ and put it above/below/next to hujjaj #___ (it helped with letter recognition)

2. we ordered the Arabic numerals in the correct order

3. I counted the numbers in Arabic, but we didn’t do this much because he didn’t seem to be cooperating much (but when we took the number 10, he did say “Ashara!”)

4. We’d have the hujjaj scattered around the Kaabah and I would tell him, “Get me hujjaj #__”

We also did the memory game, and we did the steps of Hajj game,

The Hajj Steps game after I put it in the lapbook. Made it more stable and easier to manipulate.

and then while I started to make his lapbook,

It’s still halfway done. Reminds me of our lapbooking days when the older kids were younger. We still have the stack of the lapbooks they made. N still loves looking through them. I do too. I can’t bring myself to throw them away even though I had taken pictures of them with the intention of keeping them as digital copies and throwing away the hardcopy.

he played the memory game with N and then S joined. We also did the hajj graphing activity and he had fun spinning it and marking the boxes. I made sure to ask him which one he got the most of and how much did he get for __.

H refined the spinners for the Addition and Subtraction activity which we have yet to do. I asked H to help me last night and he went all out and set up the spinners on a cardboard mount and everything.

We also did the picture-word matching activity,

Picture-word matching activity. I had written the answer on the backs of the picture cards and this was how he matched them.

and the Hajj sequencing cards.

By now, he is quite familiar with the terms, and even steps of the hajj manaasik mashaAllah. We also did the map activity though he hesitated and objected at having to write the words. I had to spell it out for him, and in one instance I put the word before him so he could copy it. He insisted that I spell it out for him but I insisted he copy it and he did it pretty quickly. Again, not that he can’t do it, but it’s a matter of not wanting to do it.

Hajj Map Skills

He also did some coloring while I attempted to help H with his Algebra. This reminds me so much of when I juggled the 3 older kids when they were younger. It was nerve-wrecking. I still haven’t mastered it.

We did quite a number of the activities alhamdulillah and his interest level was still high, but I had to cut it short because I had to go visit on of the girls from the girls’ club. But I’m so thankful that Z loves the activities. He kept asking me to read the book again. I have to tell him the stories of Ismail and hajr (and I will use the pop up that I had made for the 3 older kids years ago inshaAllah) and Ibrahim a.s. and the slaughtering of Ismail a.s.. I wish I had a felt board ready. Oh well, we’ll just have to improvise impromptu since my days will start getting crazy tomorrow. Monday is really my only free day to work exclusively with Z. Subhanallah.

May Allah make it easy. Ameen.

While Z was writing, I noticed that he needs handwriting practice soon. I was at Staples yesterday and saw the first grade writing book but didn’t buy it. I guess I’ll have to buy that soon but I can already imagine Z making faces at me if I tell him to do it. He doesn’t like worksheets. Oh boy, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Islamic Studies, Juggling Multiple Kids, Kindergarten Math, Lapbooking, Learning Games, Z's learning, Zulhijjah | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“I Want to Read Only One.”

I’ve been bloghopping recently, in an effort to look for ready-to-go Islamic Studies/Quran lesson plans/activities for Z. I’m at a point where I no longer have the time nor energy to brainstorm creative ideas for activities with him like I did with the older kids when they were this age. So I succumbed and have to admit defeat. Usually, I prefer to brainstorm my own activities, but I can’t afford to do that anymore, so I seek to be inspired and benefit from other Muslim homeschooling moms with young children.

When I first bloghopped, it made me feel bad. I mean really bad. Here are these wonderful mothers, doing wonderful things with their children and it makes me feel guilty for not doing much with Z. Subhanallah. I remember that way back, this was the very reason I avoided reading other homeschooling blogs. It stressed me out as I would compare myself to these amazing mothers.

But as I grew up and older, I realize that every family is different and that every family has different strengths just like individuals have different unique strengths. I also remind myself that I am not a big fan of worksheets and following curiculums, because I have done that with the older kids and I feel that is not the best way to learn and apply what is learned. It gives ‘ilm, but not necessarily the spiritual wisdom. That was why I looked into unschooling and am now an eclectic homeschooler.

So, after spending quite some time drooling over other moms’ beautiful activities with their kids, I began to get inspired to take a little bit of this and that and come up with my own, individualized activity plan for Z. I have unique struggles with teaching Z, so I looked at all the different things out there and these moms really have amazing activities! May Allah reward and accept it from them. Ameen!

Sumayyah’s post [Make Your Own Arabic Alphabet Letter Form Blocks] in particular inspired me to come up with a (hopefully) solution in teaching Z his Quranic Arabic reading. With S, I remember writing down the letter she had trouble with on the whiteboard in our living room. And everyday I would point it out to her until she finally gets that letter. With Z, our whiteboard is now full with stuff for the older kids. Subhanallah, I feel so bad for Z. I might start doing that for him, but after reading Sumayyah’s post I decided to do a similar thing, but with index cards. I went ahead and took a bunch of index cards I had sitting around for a while and cut them in half.

While I was doing this, I put on Shaikh Abdulbary Yahya’s lecture Love for the Sake of Allah.

AFter I was done cutting, I wrote the beginning, middle, and ending form of each letter, making sure to align the cut cards so they would join perfectly when put together. Then, I cut the top part of the cards and made these into the tashkeel cards, fatha, kasrah, dhammah, sukoon, dagger alif. Then I tied it altogether with a rubber band.

I tried it Z, but when he saw what it was, he immediately said,

“I don’t want to read it.”

Aargh!

I coaxed him, and he said,

“I want to read only one.”

Good enough. That’s what we did.

Today, he came to me with the card bundle and said,

“I want to do this.”

(!) Allahu Akbar!

So we did, but he put a condition on it,

“I want to read only one.”

As I was finishing up praying Isha just now, he came to me and said,

“I want to do this.”

So, we did.

Of course, he said, “I want to read only one.”

Well, as long as he keeps coming to me asking to read it, I guess I”m fine with him saying,

“I want to read only one.”

Last night, he did the activity with S, and surprisingly, they went beyond reading Only One. She even had him make up words.

And this morning, I picked out some of the old Arabic writing workbooks we had bought from Malaysia years ago for the older kids and I gave some to him for writing in. It took some reverse psychology to get him to write as per instructions but he did do some. With Z, it’s more of a battle of wills. It’s not that he can’t do it, but he won’t, and he will do reverse psychology back on us.

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Quran, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Z's learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Z Books: If You Were A Parrot

Wednesdays is one of the busiest most hectic days in the week for us. Especially this week because N’s Oil Pastel Class starts, and H’s Magnetism Class starts. This morning we had bit of a to do with logistics. N had signed up to do her live presentation for her project for her Mammals class, but S said she had group at 8:45 and so would need the Mac, and by the time I came downstairs, N was not doing her presentation and H was using the Mac. So N rescheduled her live presentation next week.

Then, H’s Magnetism class starts at 9, so basically today, we had class starting at 6:30 am, then another at 7 am, then another at 9 am, then my class at 10 (had to anxiously wait for H’s class to finish on time so I wouldn’t be late for my class), and N’s Oil Pastel at 11. And now only N is in class, the rest of us had lunch. H made fried rice.

I read If You Were  A Parrot By Katherine Rawson with Z this morning. I also showed him the photos of the author and illustrator at the back, and told him that this lady wrote the story and this other lady drew the pictures. I also told N about the illustrator, and I love that she included some info about how she does her illustrations.

We had actually read it yesterday and today he picked that book again. Yesterday I didn’t have the chance to expound on it while I was reading since we were rushing to go to the library, but today I had time, so each time we read the pages about what features the parrot has, I reminded him of Jce’ parrot that we used to babysit once in a while.

“Do you remember, Jce’ bird would climb up on you, and chew on your ears?”

“Did Jce’s bird play in his water?”

It looks as if a sliver of memory of the bird is passing in his mind and then came his answer, “Yeah.”

“Did he use to look in the mirror too?”

“Yeah.”

“You remember, he eats nuts and seeds?”

“Yeah.”

He wanted to make the fake beak, so I told him to get some construction paper and we made him a beak, a black one. He went around with it, pretending to chew on a pencil. Then he started saying to me,

“I want four toes!”

 

Oh boy.

“But Allah already gave you a nice foot. Four toes is for a parrot.”

What do you expect when you read a book called, If You Were A Parrot.

After my class started, he would come in every now and again in the room and tell me, “I want four toes.”

All this while I was in class. It was getting annoying.

We need to read another book so he would forget about this one.

Four toes….eeshh…

Well, by this time I did read more books to him. We read,

Excuse Me by Lisa Kopelke

I wanted to read this one first because I had checked it out some time ago, but he didn’t want me to. Somehow then I read the one below first and then he took Excuse Me! and wanted me to read it because he liked the Tissue Please story.

Tissue Please by Lisa Kopelke

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

He wasn’t too fascinated by this one. I think he was rushing for something else then.

 

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Animals, Books, Language Arts, Reading, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaves

When we went to play tennis last Sunday, I collected some leaves for Z. When I showed it to him he was fascinated, at first, but he wasn’t as fascinated with it as I’d hoped. Still, I picked some at different stages of its losing its chlorophyll.

I was planning on sitting with Z and showing him how when the chlorophyll leaves the leaves, the green goes away and it turns brown.

Come to think of it though, he has been asking me,

“Is it going to be winter now?”

So at least I know he is at least aware of the seasons. With Z, I can’t really tell what he knows or what he understands as I did with the older kids. With his speech delay and some developmental delay, I don’t expect too much from him, so when he does show some understanding, it is a pleasant surprise.

Well, at least, if I put these photos on the blog, when he decides he is more interested in botany, maybe I can sit with him and talk about it. Right now, he’s exploring other things. I’ll leave him be. He looked excited when he was checking out the books I got for him at the library. You could clearly see the joy in his smile with each book that he scanned. I guess I never had the time to really observe the older kids like that when they were that age. Or even if I did, I have forgotten. With Z, it’s like I’ve been given a second chance, but in a different form. It’s different.

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Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Outdoor, Science, Z's learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Our Harvest!

Yesterday, on our Quran party day, we also harvested some carrots and cherry tomatoes from our tiny container garden! It reminds me of why I loved hanging out in my father’s orchard in the early mornings when I was growing up. It was a time when the morning dews are still glistening on the banana tree leaves, ready to roll off the smooth surface and fall with a fat plop onto the ground. The green grass was still deliciously wet with dew, making my flip flopped feet(back home, flip flops are wet market attire, but here it’s the ‘in’ thing, which makes me laugh. Amazing how something that is considered the most low standard footwear in one place is considered fashionable in another part of the world!) wet and cool. I loved it when we were living in Kajang, where I spent a lot of time imagining myself a ninja while running around and weaving through the tapioca trees by the man-made fish pond my father liked to fish from. We had fresh fried fish every now and then. There was also a man-dug well, half of which my father enclosed and turned into an ‘outhouse’. The other half, he left open so we could use the water for our kitchen needs. He also slaughtered our own chickens and I remember the headless chickens running around for a bit before completely dying. My grandmother would then dip them in boiling water and pluck the feathers. All tasks such as cleaning fish guts, cleaning slaughtered chickens, cleaning squids and prawns are done in our outdoor kitchen. The indoor kitchen is for cleaner stuff. There was a time where I also kept a baby cobra in a jar for a while before my father turned it loose. That was also when I was introduced to keeping a butterfly jar where I would pick the monarch caterpillars from our lime trees and put them in empty jam jars and feed them till they pupa-ed and turned into beautiful black and orange monarchs!

I think that is the most meaningful part of my childhood. The rest of them I spent in the concrete city of Kuala Lumpur where I would spend my time reading Enid Blyton books and imagining our closets to have secret trapdoors that lead to secret tunnels and such. Imagination and books have always been my closest friend back then.

Suffice it to say, I do love being out in nature, not necessarily to be physically active (like my husband and children (some of them) do) but just to sit, smell the flowers, scrutinize the details, and revel in the beauty of it all. I am happy that the older kids had that in their childhood when we were in Columbus, but I feel somewhat bad for Z because here in the desert, he can’t really just go out and play. We have a xeriscape yard too, so that doesn’t help. But with this little garden, at least he has a smidgeon of an experience hopefully. I love watching his delight at pulling out the carrots!

 

Z pulling out the carrots. We had gone out to check on it while he was in the shower. So we waited for him to be done so he could do the honor of pulling out those carrots, since we planted them because he was reading The Carrot Seed and this guy has been waiting forever to pull those carrots out!

N found this insect at the okra plant

 

another insect

 

Inside, I showed Z this book, which is a very good book to learn about roots! He took it and showed it to his sisters.

 

Z took this photo. I had returned this book to the library today before having a chance to take more photos of it, but apparently, Z had done some clicking!

 

The book : What Do Roots Do? by Kathleen V. Kudlinski

 

 

 

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Books, Gardening, Outdoor | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Leaves, Roots, Flowers, and Fruits

I got a new stack of books for Z from the library last week. One of them is Leaves, Leaves, Leaves.

As usual, I read him the book, and he was attentive and quiet. Reminds me of the days when he didn’t have that much of an attention span.

And as usual, he didn’t say much about the book after I was done. I commented on the art in the book, as I tend to usually do with him. This book has an interesting artwork for the pictures. I started pointing out the details of the artwork to Z a while back. One of those books was Eric Carle’s books. I think, I did it because at the time, he was into painting, and I wanted to give him some painting ideas, so I started paying attention to the pictures in the picture books. I never did that with the older kids though. So this is new.

He didn’t seem too fascinated with the artwork in this book though. He seemed more interested in the facts.

But it was at the farmer’s market yesterday that I realized how much he benefited from the book. We were walking back to the van after buying our weekly produce, and he had picked up a leaf off the ground. As I was walking, he showed the leaf to me and said,

“What are these lines?” while pointing at the veins on the leaf.

At first, I didn’t realize what he was asking about. I thought he was asking about the edges of the leaf, because in the book, it also talks about the jagged, wavy, smooth edges of different leaves.

So when I figured out what he was asking about, I said,

“Veins.”

Then he pointed at the stem part of the leaf and said,

“And this is the stem?”

“Yes!”

MashaAllah! It’s really interesting how the learning process is. You read a book to a child. You tell some facts to a child. They may seem like they’re not paying attention, or you may feel like they’re not ‘getting it’ because you’re not seeing any output from your input. But by Allah’s guidance, they’re getting it. They are absorbing it at their own pace, in their own individual ways.

They may not output it right away, so as to assure you that they get it, but they may output it at their own time, and this is when being a teaching parent is rewarding. Because you get to be there when they output what you have inputted. A teacher in school may only be able to see this output from frequent interactions or from tests.

And when tests become a means of making sure the students ‘get it’, it can veer off to a path where learning is no longer happening. Learning is a life process. It happens in the real world. It happens sometimes at random times. Sometimes, it may seem as if you’re not spending a lot of time ‘teaching’ this child, but the little moments that this learning takes place, something very deep and meaningful is unfolding. The child is learning, and making connections in his brain. As a teaching parent, all you need to do is give, and give, and give.

I learned this from Glenn Doman. He says we should just give and give and don’t demand. In other words, avoid testing as much as possible. From this, I have learned that especially with young children, just keep giving (input) and don’t worry too much about the output. They will output in their own times. They will.

Recently, N pulled out one of our carrots. Subhanallah, this is the first time I am seeing a carrot harvested without going through the process of being prepped up for selling. In its true form. It’s exhilarating for Z to see this, I’m sure. He asked if he could eat it. I nodded. He ate it.

Our Okra plant has also flowered. When I went out for Z’s therapy in the morning, I noticed the beautiful flower, just one, but it was beautiful! I wanted to take a picture, but the camera’s battery was exhausted and needed recharging. By the time it was ready though, the flower had closed up. So this is what I got.

The flower had fallen off

The lone okra fattening up and emerging

By the end of the day, the flower had fallen off! What was left in its place was a small yet growing okra! Amazing, subhanallah! I showed all this to Z. He took it all in in his quiet manner, just smiling and nodding when I asked him questions. So far, he hasn’t said anything much, though I did ask him to go and check out the plant to see if any more flowers had come out.

Subhanallah, I was worried that I wasn’t spending much time with him or teaching him much, but come to think of it, I actually really enjoy this kind of learning. I’m just guiding one child, as opposed to 3 children at the same time like I did when the older kids were younger. I always thought handling Z is harder, when I expected it to be simpler because I had handled 3 before. It was like having triplets, almost. But with Z, the dynamics are a little different. I had a lot of learning curves to go through with him, allergies, speech delay and all. But now, I think he is flourishing, beautifully and wonderfully too, alhamdulillah. I love hearing him talk and ask questions. I enjoy seeing his learning process unfold even if it takes the course of a few days or interspersed throughout a few days or even weeks. It’s amazing, just amazing. I am actually able to witness this without having to juggle between 3 kids. It’s a different experience. I’m starting to enjoy it. With the older kids, it’s more nagging. A little frustrating, but as I came to realize very recently after talking to a sister (this deserves its own post), I am thankful that’s my problem with the older kids. Other people have it worse so I should really be grateful that nagging is my main problem with them. So Alhamdulillah.

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Gardening, Homeschooling, Reading, Science, Thoughts, Z's learning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Quran Mazes, PSAT, Planet Earth, Famous Five, Ancient Britain

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for projects to do with Z, while also worrying about S’ PSAT(which we registered her for yesterday), and S’ other stuff. For Z, I looked through what we have on our shelf and found the Quran mazes I had bought for the older kids years ago. I have forgotten what I did with the older kids, and with Z it seems like I have to start from scratch all over again!

But, he seems to have a penchant and fascination with mazes, which I have been noticing since he got those free coloring books and activity books from organizations sometimes. So when I took out these Quran mazes books of the prophets, he took to them like teens to IPads. I scanned and printed one book, because I want to be able to resell those books we have.

However, yesterday, the girls and I went Henna-crazy. We experimented with Henna designs on our hands, and hey, S turns out to be quite good with the henna designs! She seems to have a knack for these creative artistic stuff, in a different way that N or H though. They have all their artistic streaks, but in different areas. It’s amazing to see how creativity can span and transcend boundaries and areas. It reminds me of a sister who has a knack for performing arts, but says that she has no talent for drawing or painting but that her siblings do. Again, it’s that artistic abilities in different areas. So we spent the whole morning henna-ing. So I didn’t really do any ‘lesson’ with Z, that I intended to do, on the Quran mazes. But, what he did do was, he sat down and went through all those books and just traced his way through the mazes with his finger. He even asked me to do it while racing with him. Day and night, he did it. Even today, he’s still going through the same books and tracing through them. He was overjoyed to have those printed sheets that I stapled for him to actually trace with crayons.

What I had in mind though, was to do a hands on project with him about the stories of the prophets. I am currently thinking of an ark project on Prophet Nuh a.s., with the water gushing forth from the earth and from the sky, and then the waves hovering above them and finally the ark landing on Mount Judi. I can already visualize this 3 sequence scenery. I just need to put them to action. I was also browsing through Crayola’s art projects yesterday while waiting for the henna on my finger tips to dry. I intend to archive projects I am inclined to doing later and linking to them so I can refer to them easily inshaAllah.

Yesterday though, we did end up watching Planet Earth, though I noticed that Z is not that predisposed to sit and listen to the narrator. He would watch the scenes, though yesterday, he was more fascinated by the Mazes than by what’s going on on Planet Earth. I had checked out Bear Snores On, Scholastic Video Collection from the library on Tuesday, and we put it on the day before yesterday and yesterday. I find that it’s really good in terms of enhancing and increasing vocabulary and just language skills, but again, Z doesn’t seem to be too inclined to listening to it. I am a bit worried about this, but inshaAllah, continually reading to him will hopefully help too somewhat.

I finally called our local nearest high school to ask about S registering for PSAT this October. An email reminder from College Board is what actually set me to motion on this, alhamdulillah. So hubs went over and registered her. I”m actually surprised at how helpful they are, as I’ve always hesitated to call them before, with the preconceived notion that they are not too friendly towards homeschoolers. But they’re very nice.

One problem though. As I read through the booklet last night, it says that if you’re going to spend more than 4 years in high school, you have to contact NMSC and let them know. So I called them this morning before Z’s therapy sessions, and they said I should just write them a letter explaining why S will be taking more than 4 years to finish high school and that she should still take this year’s PSAT and also next year. So that settles it. It will give S I guess an extra chance to be familiar with the test and actually taking it. Looks like we will only have her fly off after October 17 then inshaAllah, if we get her paperwork done by then that is.

Recently, we’ve been hooked on watching Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. I LOVE Enid Blyton books. I grew up reading them. When I came to the US, I looked for her books at the library, but couldn’t find a lot. I was disappointed, actually I still am. I love the values in her books, and I love the simplicity of it, though some may balk at the level of language in her book. I find it quite innocent in this age where even cartoons for children reek with the culture of romance. Sure, there are shirky stuff in Enid Blyton, but she has stories that don’t have any shirk in them, like the Famous Five, St. Claire’s Malory Towers, etc. The kids have also been reading Enid Blyton books, my old books that have gone ‘tatters’ and some have even disintegrated *sob*sob, but at least I got to pass these on to my children, if not my grandchildren. They had watched the BBC documentary of Enid, the real Enid, and when once I had suggested we watch Famous Five, they weren’t interested.

Now all of a sudden, I suggested it again and they’re hooked. I am too. Subhanallah, I love the English countryside!

We like this version though, not the 70s version. This version seems more true to Enid’s books and the setting, even the attire seems more appropriate.

S is doing Ancient Britain right now for World History. I had read Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle and approved it for S to read for her World History. Since we had trouble finding historical fiction for Ancient Mesopotamia, I told her she can go ahead and start with Ancient Britain. I listed out research and essay questions based on the book, and she started working on them. I also checked out a DVD from the Library, Monarchy with David Starkey, but S hasn’t started to watch it yet. She did say she’s not that interested in the royals but more on the common people. I told her that in order to know how the common people lived, you kind of have to know a bit about how the royalties lived.

Watching Famous Five I feel kind of gives this a bit of a wholesome feel to it, because you can see the history of England in bits and pieces as you watch the children go on their adventures. One time they stumbled on an old Roman ruins, and another time, they went exploring on George’s Kirrin Island.

At least now, after knowing a bit more about British history, sparked from reading historical fiction in that era, I can somewhat appreciate all this, and I hope the kids can too, though I have a feeling that right now, they might not be too thrilled about it, but at least I hope it can spark a budding interest at the very least. You never know. S already claims she likes history now. I still want her to develop her writing skills, so one way or another, I have to make it somewhat academic and imposing. You can’t have everything and there will just be some things you don’t like to do that you have to do. That is the reality of life. This is part of homeschooling too, like it or not.

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Books, Famous Five, High School, Historical fiction, History, History DVD, Homeschooling, Language Arts, Movies, PSAT, Quran, Reading, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ramadan 1433: Z’s Turn

This year, I thought I’d do the Ramadan chain for Z, since he is a little older and can probably understand it a bit more. This was a last minute decision, but while watching Little House on the Prairie, we managed to have Z cut strips of construction paper, write letters spelling out EID MUBARAK on them (one letter per strip), and make a paper chain to hang up. This chain is specifically just for him.

So just like I did with the 3 older kids years ago, every night, we would take one chain down, and tack it on the wall. This time I put it by the staircase too, just like I did in Colz with the older kids. So far so good, alhamdulillah. While the older kids are doing their Muslim Countries projects, Z is going through each day in Ramadan with these Ramadan chains as a measuring tool. Since Ramadan will be going into the depths of summer in the upcoming years, I don’t know about training him to fast as of yet, especially with his hypoglycemia. Next step for him would be the Ramadan fasting chart. But I think that might not happen till a few more years, and I hope by then he would have outgrown his allergies inshaAllah.

Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Ramadan | Tags: | Leave a comment

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