Posts Tagged With: Historical fiction

Literature: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

H and N are reading this book for their Junior High Homeschool Book Study Literature class with Lisa Testch. I love how Lisa conducts this class so far. I was supposed to have N and H continue with our history based on historical fiction lessons, but I figured that as long as they are reading this book, I might as well capitalize on it by having them learn more about this time in history. So I checked out some books about Puritans from the library and made it an assignment for them to read the book and tell me what they learned from it. This was what they read:

Life Among the Puritans

What makes it relevant and interesting is that they are currently engaged in discussing and reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Both children seemed interested in the subject as they shared what they read and learned with me. I stretched the discussion into comparing and contrasting Islamic values and Puritan values. The similar ones are the strong prohibition against gossiping, eavesdropping, idleness, slandering, stealing etc. They did mention that the punishments of the Puritan against these crimes are too harsh though.

When we were talking about this, the Shariah hand-cutting for stealing came up. It was a good opportunity to explain that this hadd in Islam is not to be taken that casually and generally and that there are certain conditions to be fulfilled in an alleged crime before the hadd takes place. Because people will say that Islam is barbaric because of these hudud, but in truth, there are certain pre-requisites to the carrying out of these hudood. There is also a principle in that the judge will try to find innocence. The point is not to punish, but to deal in justice. All conditions have to be met in order for these hudod to be carried out. Even if one condition is missing, the punishment cannot be carried out. It’s important for the kids to know this because they will come across people who will bash Shariah. Even adult Muslims don’t know enough about Shariah and some even shun it because they are taking the media’s reporting on it without exercising their own effort to learn more about it in a non judgmental way. May Allah guide us and help us understand our deen. Ameen.

I am happy that in the course of reading Life Among the Puritans, they seem to really understand the Reformation and seem to take an interest in it too! Reading historical fiction really brings history to life and I love that!

Categories: Books, Historical fiction, History, Literature, Living Islam, Thoughts | 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

Blog at