Posts Tagged With: Real Life Learning

Is This A Trip?

So……we are back alhamdulilah! [THis post was started and then I got interrupted and it never was finished :P]

So here we go…in continuation.

Z LOVED the road trip..so much so that he kept asking us whenever we got in the van to go grocery shopping, or play tennis or go to the masjid,

“Is this a trip?”

He kept doing that for a while, but now he has stopped asking that.

We had gone to White Sands on Memorial Day though, and we told him that this was a short trip.

He enjoyed that too, but was scared to slide down by himself. Seems like the older he gets, the more fearful he becomes of height.

We have been going swimming since an organization reserved the university pool for sisters twice a week. So Z has been coming with us and he LOVES being in the pool. Now that we go out of the house a lot (almost everyday, it’s killing me), at times he would whisper to me,

“We are going to 2 places today; masjid and swimming.”

It also seems to make him pay attention the days of the week, since he knows we usually go to the library on Tuesdays, swimming on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Tennis on Sundays. So in a way, it’s part of his schooling! 🙂

He started out with just using the noodles, and then the life jacket, and for a while he refused not to put it on, until hubs got mad and said

“He’s not going to learn to swim with that thing on!”

So I talked to him and all of a sudden he didn’t want to put the life jacket on and went in with the board. Alhamdulillah now he just uses the board. Phew…let me just say, hubs blowing up was not fun, and I was in the center of it all, advocating for easing Z into it instead of forcing him, and also talking to Z so that he would give up the life jacket on his own. Alhamdulilah…Allah made it easy!

 

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Z Book: Bugs Are Insects

I love these Let’s Read and Find Out Science books! I’ve been hunting for them at the library and Z loves them too! They’re great for learning science. I wonder if they have Let’s Read And Find Out History books. They should.

Yesterday, Z chose for me to read to him Bugs Are Insects by Anne Rockwell.

He’s really hooked by the ladybug, and so I googled ladybug on Youtube, since he asked for it.

We watched ladybugs laying eggs,

ladybug being eaten by a Venus Fly Trap,

and eating aphids,

and I love this new find- Painting with Mr. Kindergarten!

We watched it and Z painted his own ladybugs; one red, one black with colorful dots. We also did the butterfly paint folding and some playing with paint with toilet paper rolls that I’ve been saving for him.

I printed Umm Nu’man’s Ladybug Math Mat and counting activity, and we spent quite a while doing the addition activity, much to my surprise! Z doesn’t really like to count, read aloud or pretty much anything where he has to use his voice. But he was excited that I had printed some more thing for him and so I quickly cut out the ladybug counting pieces and he patiently waited. Pretty soon we were doing the addition problems, but with a twist. I made up stories when we did each addition problem, and he loves it! That’s what kept him going actually. some of the times, I forgot to make up a story and he would say,

“Ok, where are the ladybugs going now?”

So we had ladybugs getting ready to go swimming, go to the playground, have a party, getting in a van, etc. And I also had been googling activities on ladybugs and saw a math mat activity where a baking pan is used and so the pieces were magnetized. I decided to glue magnet strips on the ladybug counting pieces and we used them on the baking pan. It was MUCH easier and more organized in a way. I love that he loved this activity because I feel like his math is a bit poor compared to his reading.

 

And subhanallah, I found out that this boy can really read mashaaAllah. I knew he can read but since he doesn’t like to read out loud when I ask him to, I never really knew how well he can read. I was spending time with him with the activities and thenI also printed another copy of Umm Nu’man’s winter color cards (though I printed it on portrait format so now I have one set of cards bigger than the other, which I guess is fine. It makes for easier separating if we only want to use 1 set of cards for a game) so that we could play Snap. We played Snap and then he wanted to know how to play go Fish, but I told him to let’s play memory game first so he would know the names of the colors in Arabic. We did this but of course we need to do more so the Arabic colors are consolidated in his vocabulary.

So I decided to take the Bob Books I had since the 3 older kids were younger and I asked him to read it, encouraging him by saying that this book once belonged to S, N, H and that they used to read it. So he did and mashaaAllah he did very well. Before long we were reading more of these books and then I got Wake Me Up In Spring and he read this book all by himself, out loud to me. Turns out, his reading speed is pretty high. I had to help him a bit with the ‘ed’ past tense but he did very well. All this while he’s been able to read but keeping it to himself. Well, hubs said that when hubs would read a book by mistake on purpose, Z would correct him. So we knew he can read, but just not how well. Alhamdulillah, doing the Glenn Doman reading method really works, even if I just did it with him when he was a baby (actually i did it with him when he was about a few months old, I think even soon after birth when I felt ok enough to do it with him). I remember, he was still in the crib when I did it. But because of his allergies, I stopped because I had to focus on dealing with his extensive eczema. I resumed it when he was older, at about 1 yr old, we did also on powerpoint, with sound effects, and by and by I did it but I didn’t really complete the program. But subhanallah just that little exposure helped! When I did it with S, I didn’t realy finish it either because she was already reading before I finished it. With N and H, I didn’t complete it either, as they were learnng to read also from watching Between The Lions along with the program I was doing on them. Alhamdulillah, Allah made it easy in this regard. And he wasn’t just reading it blindly, he understood what he read too, as evident from his smiles and responses as he was reading the words out loud. Allahu Akbar!

So With Z, I think I have to focus on his handwriting and math and especially his Quran. This actually motivates me to work more with him on Quran. InshaaAllah may Allah make that easy too. Ameen!

Yesterday, we were eating chips and all of a sudden as he was about to pick up the bag and put it bag in the kitchen,  he said,

“North, S, East, West!” while pointing in the right direction. He later asked me what S stands for. He read it on the bag of the chips bag.

Today, I went googling for more ladybug activities and ended up joining Learning Page. I had used it way  back when the 3 older kids were younger too so I was somewhat familiar with it. I printed some worksheets and inshaaAllah, I hope he works on them and improve in handwriting and benefit from the other activities.

Last weekend, during our tennis Sunday, Z had been observing a ladybug too, so the reading of this book is quite relevant to his most recent animal-experience. In fact he was telling me as I read him the book about the ladybug’s wings.

As we were reading this book, I reminded myself to always bring Allah into it. It’s so easy to forget an focus a lot more instead on the science. So when he was reading Wake Me Up In Spring, we also talked about how out of Allah’s mercy, He makes the bears sleepy so that they hibernate in winter. In winter there are not food for the bears, so sleeping is easier for them. I also realized how just talking about Allah providing for His creatures actually trigger alot of thought process in a child, subhanallah. When we talked about this, he asked me questions that I never expected. It’s amazing subhanallah. It also benefited me because it made me reflect about Allah in ways I never would have based on my adult thinking. Subhanallah.

Categories: Animals, Arabic, Books, Kindergarten Math, Learning Aids, Learning Games, Learning in Context, Living Islam, Reading, Science, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Learning Moment

It’s amazing how learning can occur in such a simple act as watching Afasy on Youtube. N is crazy over Dawud Wharnsby’s anaasheed. Z is closest to her and would follow her every act. At one point, I saw N at the computer, and Z by her side, standing, with the headphones on and I guessed what he was listening to.

“N, let him listen to Afasy. Not too much nasheed.”

Z used to watch a lot of Afasy on Youtube. At one point he was just fixed to it watching it again and again.

I reminded him of this.

“Z, you used to watch Afasy a lot remember? ”

Last night, he asked to watch Afasy, but he especially likes the one where people are praying on the street. When we looked for it, I clicked on the Fussilat video, but apparently I got the wrong one. He pointed to the correct one:

He started asking question as we watched it:

“Why is he crying?”

When he asked this question, I told him about the ayah he was crying about, that it talks about hellfire and how one’s face will be burned and that he is afraid of that happening to him, that’s why he’s crying. I balanced this with telling him that Allah loves us so much that He has prepared Jannah for us, but we have to work for it, and then we can see Allah. We have to listen to Allah.

“Why are they praying on the street?”

Because it’s Ramadan and they go for taraweeh, and there is no space in the masjid because so many people want to go.

“Why do men and women pray?”

Everyone has to pray.

“Why do they go to the masjid?”

Because Allah likes it. The masjid is Allah’s house. So we need to keep it clean, don’t fight in it, don’t say bad stuff in it. We should pray and read Quran in the masjid.

I also started telling him about the crowd at hajj. As we were watching this, I told him that at hajj there are more people than this.

I also pointed out at the straight rows and how everyone moved together and how it looks so organized and neat.

As I’m typing this, he’s asking me

“Why does Allah put the people in the fire?”

Because the people didn’t listen to Allah. These people did bad things, they hurt other people, they even killed some people, and Allah already told them not to do this, but they didn’t listen, they still did it. Allah already told them that if they don’t listen, He will put them in the fire, and they still didn’t listen. So it’s their fault, not Allah’s because Allah already warned them.

At one point before this, he had declared that he wants to see Allah. He had been talking to the girls about Jannah and he asked to see Allah. They told him he will see Allah in Jannah.

Subhanallah. This is learning in context. This is a teaching moment. Sometimes, you don’t need worksheets, activities to teach something. You just need to live life. Allah has created children with innate curiosity that makes them avid observers and question-askers. Sometimes, the best learning comes from unplanned activities/teaching moments. Especially in teaching Islam, which is not just a religion, but a way of life, learning comes from living it. That was how the prophet saw taught the companions, though they would also have formal learning sessions. It’s always about balance. Not being extreme.

In education, there are many schools of thoughts. In homeschooling, there are also many methods and schools of thoughts. Sometimes, we waste our energy debating with each other over why our method is the most correct, when there may be more than one way, or there may be a middle, balanced way.

When we started homeschooling, we started with the school-at-home with OHVA. Then I tried unschooling. Finally, we ended up eclectic. I have leaned to one side too much at one time or another, but it always felt somewhat wrong, and so I would pull myself back up to the middle. At times it’s a constant yo-yo, at times, the pendulum remains still.

Alhamdulillah. Sometimes you really just have to pay attention to things. Allah talks to you through the Quran and in other ways. He is Al Lateef (subtle, gentle, caring) and He is al Aleem (all knowing) and He is al Hakeem(All wise). You just need to use the intellect you’ve been blessed with and reflect, take note of even little things, and you will realize this precious connection subhaanallah.

Sometimes you know something, but in the course of life, you forget that you know this, or you start to worry. Allah reminds you what you know. The Quran is also called zhikr, a reminder. That is why there is a lot of repetition in it, because human beings forget a lot. The root of the word for human means to forget. Go figure.

Categories: Homeschooling, Learning in Context, Living Islam, Quran, Thoughts, Youtube, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

First weekend in Dallas

Hubs couldn’t get a late check out on Sunday, so we checked out around 11 am and went to Hyatt to just hang out till the class ended. I coaxed Z to do more of Umm Nu’man’s activity sheets. At first when he saw it involved reading Arabic he said he didn’t want to. Wow, his experience with reading Quranic Arabic must be so bad. The older kids weren’t like this even though I was pretty consistent with them. With Z, because I wasn’t able to do it consistently with him every day due to my crazy commitments and hectic schedule (makes me feel so bad) his siblings had to take over, and I guess at times everyone is stressed out at having to do it with him, so it became a bad experience for him.

Whenever I tried to read it to him, he caught the hint and said

“I don’t want to do it.”

So I had to reassure him that ok, we won’t read it, just match it.

When we got to Hyatt, it was about 1 hour or so till lunch break, so I decided to glue the card templates to the index cards and alhamdulillah, by the time lunch break and zuhr came around, I was done with them. After Lunch, I laid them out on the ground unfortunately, to let the glue dry.

drying the glue

After they were dry, S, Z and I played memory game and go fish with them. Z enjoyed it. Then we also played the Surah Al Ikhlass game with the game boards. He loved this one too! Alhamdulillah!

Z got to decide who would go first. We picked a secluded spot in the conference center and hung out there while waiting for Behind the Scenes to be done.

I may have to glue those cards on index cards since I didn’t print them on cardstock. It was hard to put them under the stack when they didn’t match.

 

By the time we were playing a few rounds, he had recognized Allah, wa, lam, huwa. He didn’t give any indications that he could read the other words, but I didn’t press him.

At first he colors the dots and wouldn’t listen to me when I told him to trace it. Then as he was doing Ahadun, I pointed out the hamzah to him and he started to take interest. i showed him the actual version of the word and he was able to see what it was, and then he traced the word properly. It’s not that he can’t do it, because I noticed that he could trace it pretty well, but it’s just a matter of whether he wants to or not.

We did the gluing activity too, and he glued two words, and then he wanted to ‘do it later’. We took a walk outside, stopped by this sign at the parking lot.

I asked him to read it and then explained to him how someone could peek in your car window and steal your valuables f you leave it visible in your car. He had this ‘soaking in information’ look on his face, and then asked me,

“Why do people steal?”

He also played with my camera and took some pictures.

He made a comment,

“The clouds look like snow.”

This boy is obsessed with snow. We had read some books on snow and he’s been asking for winter and snow since then.

S and I watched King Arthur’s Britain, part 3 and we were both dozing off! We didn’t finish watching it though. I was actually dozing off  in a sitting position. But we got the gist of the DVD : there was no invasion of the Anglo-Saxon on Ancient Britain. Archeological finds found that Anglo-Saxon villages followed suit right after Roman villages and that there was no Dark Ages after the Romans left until the Anglo-Saxon came. There in fact was a thriving period during the ‘Dark Ages’. There was no invasion.

It’s actually interesting, but it might have been a tad too long.

We drove to Oklahoma City right away after hubs and N and H finished Behind the Scenes. In the midst of waiting for the class to end, Z was running around in the hallway with his sandals off. At one point, he was gone. S and I looked for him. In class, they were showing a video so the ballroom was dark. When the clip was over, Z walked out calmly holding a half eaten banana.

“Did someone give you the banana or did you take it?”

“I took it.”

“Z, you don’t even take anything if someone doesn’t give it to you, okay?”

He knows that if someone offers him any food, he should ask me first, especially if it’s something he knows he can’t eat becuase of his allergies. But I guess the banana on the table looked too tempting. Oh my…

We arrived in Oklahoma City around 11 pm alhamdulillah. I don’t feel like going out , especially not driving, so we might just stay in the hotel during our stay here inshaAllah. I have a lot of work to catch up to anyway. As for Z, I read the Eeman Reading Series books to him this morning, but when I asked him if he wants to glue, he said no.

I don’t think he likes doing worksheets, cutting and pasting at all. Right now, he’s reading A Drop of Blood. I had also read it to him this morning. He seems fascinated with the human body. I had explained to him recently that you are not to pick your scabs because Allah is making new skin grow under the scab and that eventually the scab will be pushed off. He came to me asking why we should leave the scab alone.

I realize that this is his way of wanting to hear the explanation again, because I notice he keeps asking the same question so I could give him the same answer again and again. And this may be his dwelling points in his mind mashaAllah.

This morning, we looked out the window, and saw window cleaners hanging by ropes, washing the windows of another skyscraper. We’re on the 3rd floor. I showed Z this, and in my mind I’m thinking he needs a session on learning about community inshaAllah. I already spied one of Umm Nu’man’s activity sheet set on this, though I will need to supplement it with books about community from the library.

H has gone to the gym. H picked up the A Drop of Blood and is reading it by himself, or at least looking at the pictures. The only bad thing is hubs left the IPad here and N is using it to play games, and so Z is there too. I’m supposed to catch up with the class I missed and get ready for this week’s class, so I’ll be busy too. Sometimes, having older kids is a boon and sometimes, it’s hard because you have bad influences on the younger kids from them. They’re not perfect anyway, even if you tried your best. Oh boy.

Categories: AlMaghrib Institute, Books, Family, History DVD, HotelSchooling, Travel, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind The Scenes in Dallas

Our 10 hour drive to Dallas was a very rainy one. It rained the whole way that I was left wondering if it was raining all over Texas. And the next day, it’s still raining. There were a lot of accidents on the way, that traffic was held up a couple of times. They were reminders subhanallah of Allah’s decree and Allah’s power and blessings.

For us, it was raining, and we were traveling, so our dua were high priority, alhamdulillah. Everytime we travel I would recite out loud the dua of traveling and then the meaning. It’s really deep and profound when you reflect over the dua of a traveler subhanallah. For me, it’s also profound that there is a part that asks for the distance to be covered quickly, especially as it pertained to us. We were trying to get there in time for class. Despite the rain, we covered the distance in good time, alhamdulillah, but the few traffic that we had held us up, and everytime, I’d make dua, and when I thought we would definitely make it, we encountered traffic again. Subhanallah. We had entered Dallas but there were more traffic at the flyover which Z was very fascinated with. He kept pointing out the train tracks,

“Why are there many tracks?”

“Are we up?”

“Why are we up?”

“Are we going down?”

“I don’t want to go down.”

“Are we up Ummi?”

“Are we up a little bit, Ummi?”

“I want to go on a train.”

“Are we almost there?”

The first time he asked about the flyover, I realized that he had just realized about the differences between a smaller city and a bigger city. We have been traveling a lot before, but he had never noticed these things or at least had never asked about them. So I explained that this is a big city and there are so many more cars and people and they had to have trains, and they had to build the roads in such a way that we have flyovers. He seemed entranced by the whole experience.

He kept asking where we were too.

Oh and he did ask,

“Why is that moving?” (the windshield wiper)

“To wipe the water away.”

“Why do you need that to wipe the water?”

“So we can see.”

“Why is it raining?”

“Because Allah told the ngels to let the rain cloud let down water so the animals can drink, the grass can drink, the trees can drink. They need water too. Otherwise, who will give them water?”

“The people.”

“No, the people don’t give them water. They need water too.”

“Does the water fall on the trees?”

“Yes, but they suck it in through their roots.”

Subhanallah, we did make it to class on time though, miraculously, with Allah’s power of course. It was amazing. I brought Z in with me, and I gve him his Quran Maze sheet, and his crayon pouch, and told him to whisper and color. It was hard for me to fully take notes because of this, but I wanted so much for him to be in that environment, like the 3 older kids were when they were that age. At the registration table, the sister did mention that there was Mommy and Me room for mothers with young children. I didn’t want to take Z there. I want him to be trained to sit quietly in such an environment, even if he does his own things. That’s how it ws with the 3 older kids. I had taken them to Al Maghrib classes at that age and trained them to sit quietly and ‘take notes’. I would accommodate some fidgetyness, but no ruckus.

With Z, it ws okay Alhamdulillah. He did run to the front for  bit but didn’t make any noise. He did move between me, S and N, but was quiet most of the time. He was doing his Quran mazes and came to a part where he had to write down words. He encountered the word worship and when I told him to copy it out, he made a face and said,

“I don’t want to.”

I told him then that ok, he can just put it away and I turned back to my notes. When I looked back at his paper, he had written the word out. That was quick! I realized that he has the ability to write quickly but it’s just a matter of whether he wants to or not, which makes it both easier and harder for me.

We survived 3 hours of free Friday alhamdulillah! I didn’t have much notes but at least I had Z in the room for 3 hours without much trouble.

Today, I spent the morning doing the Human Body activity sheet with him. I truly enjoyed it!

I had to spell the words for him. I just realized that we probably need to start work on uppercase and lowercase soon.

It didn’t take that long for him to write, so he can write pretty fast but it’s just training him to write on the lines, lowercase, uppercase, basically penmanship. I hate training kids with penmanship. I hated doing it in school too.

 

S doing her Algebra and Z working on his maze when I was done working with him.

He seemed to enjoy it too and actually cooperated though with reading and writing, he did make faces and refused but I insisted. I realized that this is what his therapists had to do too. We actually finished working on the whole activity set by lunch time. S did her Al Huda studying while I was working with him.

I also let him do another Quran Maze set.

We also read Hey, Little Ant. As we read this book, I asked him,

“Is the boy nice or mean?”

“Mean.”

Is he being nice or mean now?”

“Mean.”

“Do you think he should squish the ant?”

“No.”

“Do you remember when H squished your ant?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you sad ?”

“Yeah.”

“Your ant was bringing back  leaf, so maybe it was trying to build a nest or eat.”

When we reached the end of the book, he seemed pretty distraught because there was no given definite ending. For quite some time he looked very disappointed.

I then asked him which was his favorite page. I chose the giant ant. He did too. I love that page.

As for the older kids, we are kind of worried about N and how good she can retain or grasp the material taught in class. I looked through her notes last night. Pretty quirky and funny. I also noticed that she missed the important points and wrote down the jokes and elaborative points. I asked her if she likes the class. She said,

“Yeah, he makes lots of jokes.”

H said today at lunch break,

“It’s kind of hard.”

I hope to learn what they learned when they study for the exam inshaa Allah.

As for S, she studied her Al Huda, did her Math, we watched King Arthur’s Britain, and she did some PSAT questions. I finished memorizing my dua ready to be tested soon inshaAllah, listened to part of Juz 2 lesson for LI review purposes, and kicked myself for not bringing my Sahih Bukhari notes. I had the forward vision to ask my classmates to record the class for me because I will be missing two consecutive weeks of it, but I didn’t pack my notes with me! I didn’t think of listening to the recorded class and catching up during the week! Oh well, just more work for me when we get back home inshaAllah.

In all, alhamdulillah I feel it’s a pretty productive day.

Categories: AlMaghrib Institute, Books, Family, Homeschooling, HotelSchooling, Learning in Context, Note-taking, Reading, Teaching Challenges, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Road Trip Coming Up!

Z’ book bag

Z’s been asking, “Are we going on a trip?” ever since I packed these things for him. I told him that we will be going on a trip and that we would do these activities during that trip. Last night, we went out to Kohl’s and he was napping, so hubs just picked him and placed him in his seat, and he asked,

“Is this the trip?”

It was dark because it was past maghrib, so he probably thought it was fajr time because that is when we usually depart for our road trips.

Today, as we walked home from his therapy, somehow we got to talking about the trip. He was probably asking about it again and I told him it was on FRiday. So automatically we stated the order of the days together. Impromptu lesson right there! That’s what I like!

Anyway, I’m excited too. I finally decided which activities I want to start doing with Z from Umm Nu’man’s wonderful amazing resources, and I look forward to doing them with Z.  I realize that with 3 older kids and 1 kid in kindy, it’s hard for me to juggle everything on top of also being in a course myself. No wonder homeschooling moms of multiple kids take homeschooling as a full time job.

I am going to have to do that too if I don’t want to retire prematurely. I mean, I can still do other stuff but they have to be manageable. Right now, alhamdulillah, Allah has enabled me to keep up, though there are times when I feel like just dropping everything and crying. Especially when the kids misbehave, show bad manners, don’t listen to me, don’t do their work…which is…hmm…I guess, almost every day sometimes. Subhanallah…these are times when I feel like I have failed in my responsibilities. But I also realize that my responsibilities are not over. My mother says,

“Better late than never!”

My mother still reprimands me to this day, like any mother would. So I guess, my work is for a lifetime, though it’s hard not to feel like a failure when your kids show less than desirable behavior. This is when I feel very humbled. Parenting is humbling, not only because you learn that you are the role model, but mostly because you come to realize that it’s all in His hands. Guidance and success is in His hands.

In homeschooling, there are times when you feel exhilirated (like when H’s fan worked) and you feel,

“Yay! This is why we homeschool!”

But subhanallah, Allah reminds us, and we had just covered this ayah recently in my class (I LOVE juz 27 28!)

57:22
Sahih International

No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah , is easy – Al Hadeed 57:22

57:23
Sahih International

In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful – Al Hadeed 57:23

Subhanallah when something bad happens, you remember that Allah has already decreed it, so don’t dwell too much over its loss, but even when something great happens, here we are reminded not to exult over it and attribute it all to ourselves! Balance!

I printed out all the materials I wanted and put them all in this folder. And this folder goes in his book bag.

some cut out pieces

I had cut out some activity sheets ahead of time, though I later realized that he should be the one doing the cutting. But I later left some parts for him to cut on his own.

My Body activity sheet set

He’s been asking a lot about where his stomach is and where his food is right now, so I thought it’s high time we do human body. We’ve been doing animals and plants, and I had wanted to do human body but I couldn’t find the proper materials for his age so this was a blessing that Allah directed me to the blog of Umm Nu’man, whom I also realized is the author of books I had bought for Z! MashaAllah! She has come up with a Human body activity sheet set separate for boys and girls.

Surah An Naas Activity Sheet set

I love these Quran activity sets! I am excited to try this because from looking at how it’s supposed to be carried out, I”m thinking that this is the reading by sight version in Arabic. We did both reading by sight and phonics for English but I haven’t found any technique, at least any organized technique for reading Arabic so this is really a wonderful find! Alhamdulillah!

Surah Al Ikhlas Activity Sheet set

For some of the activities, I’ll have to coax the older kids to join us.

Quran Mazes activity sheet booklets

I had painfully scanned these, gathered them all in a Word document and printed them so he can do it again and again, now and even later when his comprehension takes on a different level.

I told him to gather some crayons and put them in this pouch we had gotten when we boarded Korean Airlines on our visit back to Malaysia in 2010. Reuse, recycle.

His crayons

His glue and scissors

His Abata. He was the one who reminded me to include this, so alhamdulillah!

I didn’t forget about the older kids. I used to do this when we travelled before too. I went to elaborate length to prepare for our road trips. I remember one when we went to Houston from Columbus, OH. Don’t know how much the kids benefited though, but I do remember doing a lot of brainstorming, designing, cutting, pasting, when the kids were younger. I realize that now, with Z, that’s what I have to do a lot of too it seems like. While at the same time I also have to do a lot of mental work in checking and critiquing the older kids’ essays, researching topics, teaching it learning it together with them, keeping ahead of them, keeping up to date with college applications, SAT, ACT, etc, high school requirements, high school course planning…you get the drift.

I had put my writing on hiatus several times now because I can’t cope with everything, but I do look forward to being able to fully pay attention to homeschooling these kids almost full time inshaAllah.

Hubby told me to rest and not take the AlMaghrib class we’re going to. So, after deliberating and feeling wistful about it, I agreed. So, right now, only hubs and N and H are taking the class inshaAllah. S, Z and I will be hanging out. S has to study, and we have to watch her British history DVDs I had checked out from the library for her World History course, and I have to study and review, and I have to do these activities with Z too. So much for rest ! But I look forward to it.

Then, S will be attending her TQ as usual during the week, and on Wed I will be attending my class, and miss Thursday because my public speaking workshop begins that day. So I will have to do some catching up in my class work and notes because the week after, the translation test is due. Again, so much for rest. 🙂 Never mind, our rest is inshaAllah in Jannah!

Older kids’ book bag

May Allah bless this trip. Ameen.

As usual, with road trips or any traveling, I go into obsessive packing and organizing mode. I’d make a list of all that we need to pack, and I’d start packing days before, and check off my list as I go and it takes a lot of planning and work, but it makes for an easier execution so far alhamdulillah. I find that I always need to write things down so my mind is not cluttered with to do lists. It helps me a lot. Ustaadh  Muhammad AlShareef calls it a brain dump. That’s exactly what I feel it is too.

My obsessive packing organization

Categories: Al Huda Institute, AlMaghrib Institute, Books, Family, History DVD, Homeschooling, Juggling Multiple Kids, Teaching To Read, Thoughts, Travel, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Cardboard Ceiling Fan

In a conversation I had last weekend with a sister, I brought up H’s cardboard endeavor jokingly, offering her a homemade cardboard furniture. Of course, she took it as a joke too. I started talking about cardboard engineering but she still had this incredulous look on her face, and I couldn’t help but realize that H was right. People won’t take this seriously, at least not those who are more used to a more refined way of life. I don’t mind having cardboard furniture.

It made me think more about cardboard engineering though. I think it’s a great way to recycle, it’s more eco-friendly. When I googled this area, it seems that it’s not that popular in the US, but might be more popular in the Europe. Of course, right. The US is a bit behind in being green. Europe has always been way ahead in this, so it’s no surprise.

I’ve been trying to look for science fair opportunities for H and his cardboard engineering but logistically it’s not that easy. But  I did find a lot of resources online on ideas for cardboard engineering projects, so I told him to use them for his science this year.

Right now, H is making his ceiling fan. He’s using the motor from our broken fan, and just this morning he managed to get the cord out of the fan by sawing off the enclosure.

He had N helping him and for almost the whole day they were immersed in this project.

It wasn’t that easy taking the cord out of the old fan frame.

But he finally got it out, and I was just relieved he was done using the saw.

The motor and cord ready to be reused.

testing the motor

He decided to use the motor of a bigger fan because this one was too small. Today, he finished it, and demonstrated his working cardboard ceiling fan. The motor overheated pretty quickly though, so he’s thinking of making a vent or hoping that when it’s hung from the ceiling, the wind from the fan would cool it down. But the fact that the fan actually works is exhilarating enough, even for me!

I am noticing that in this project, he’s learning a lot of things, such as the problems he encounters. He made circles from the cardboard without using a compass, and later he had to make sure the radius is all the same throughout his circle. He was trying to find the center. So when he came to ask me how to use the compass and make sure it’s centered, I told him,

“You have to make the circle using the compass to begin with.”

“I know,” was his somber reply.

Later on, he said, while pointing to the compass,

“I need one of these, a big one though.”

He even asked me how to make sure it’s 5 in radius and I showed him.

This is how you learn through doing. It’s the other way around. You do, thus you learn, rather than you learn, then you do. It’s through mistakes and problems that one learns and this reminds me of Roger Schank’s book Teaching Minds. It’s a great read! I would highly recommend it. He basically suggests a high school curiculum where you have the students actually ‘training’ in various areas. For example, first year of high school, they may be doing Health Science, and throughout that year, they will work/train under a mentor as a ‘doctor’ for example, or a ‘health inspector’, or a ‘nurse’, and through this, they learn what needs to be learned, in context.

I had thought of doing something like this for the kids too, but the difficult part about this is finding a real mentor who would be willing to take a teenager under his/her wings for a certain amount of time. It’s akin to shadowing really, or apprenticeship.

For H, because he’s naturally interested in electronics, building, etc, he takes to this willingly by himself. I don’t have to tell him to do it. For N, I’m thinking of something like this too but because she’s interested in creative writing, it may be easier to do this. We’ll see. At the back of my mind I’m also looking out for shadowing opportunities for S, but I think she can also get these through her volunteer activities. The soup kitchen is a good start for her, and then there is the animal shelter. For N, I may need to find writing/publishing opportunities to make it more real and make it a real learning experience. I’m excited about this, and so I look forward to hopefully being able to spend more time on their homeschooling after my Al Huda is done inshaAllah. Though I’m thinking Allah may have other plans for me. Alhamdulillah. Whatever He decrees is best.

This morning (this post is written over a course of a few days) he hung the fan from the ceiling with the help of his sisters. It worked!

And then H edited this video on my Youtube account, but right after that, the fan fell from the ceiling. Another problem he needs to figure out how to overcome. Either way this is a good learning experience, Alhamdulillah!

Categories: Activities - Ages 10 and up, Cardboard, Course Planning, High School, Learning in Context, Project, Science, Thoughts | 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

Z Books: Starfish and Spinning Spiders

Last week, I didn’t read any books to Z. It was hectic as my classes resumed and computer use was limited. I had an article I couldn’t finish and I had my online students to tend to, and I also lost my voice and towards the end of the week I strained my back when playing tennis. I had asked N to massage me but she didn’t do it with ihsan, so it didn’t have any effect. Hubs massaged it and by the will of Allah, I do not have problems making ruku’ now alhamdulillah!

Today, I read to Z while the kids are having their online classes.

We read Spinning Spiders by Melvin Berger.

We also read Starfish by Edith Thacher Hurd.

In the meantime, Z has been watching the Reading Rainbow video clip I had put up in a previous post. So today, after we read this, he expected me to find a Youtube video on them, and I did. We managed to watch a few before we set off for the library.

This was the first one we found:

And this is really cool too. Z said when we were watching this,

“It looks like a caterpillar!”

We also looked for spider web spinning Youtube videos:

With this one below, we talked about how the spider wraps its prey and then injects it with poison. When we read that part in the book, I reminded Z of his immunization shots (which he doesn’t like and so remembers quite well), and he understands and seems to be able to relate to this, so we looked out for this when we were watching the video. He even pointed to one of the legs of the spider and he said,

“Is that his ‘shot’?”

But then, I showed him how he injects the poison with a body part from his mouth and we saw it pretty clearly thanks to the video-person who did a wonderful job with this clip!

After we came back from the library, I went to the garden to check on my plants and saw a tangled spider web in my Thai Chilli plant. I showed it to Z and he told me,

“There is one on the captus!”

It took me a while to figure out what captus was, but as he pointed to our front yard, I understood. Captus = cactus.

“Oh, the cactus?”

“Yes.”

So he went ahead and showed me the spider web on one of the cacti in our front yard. Subhanallah, it was a beautiful web, and the spider was still there too and there was even some leftover of his meal. I wonder how Z even noticed that. I asked the older kids if they showed him the web, but they said no. So Z must have noticed it on his own. Good observation!

And he kept telling me when we were watching the Youtube videos,

“Send it to your blog!”

We also watched the tarantula:

Recently, I’ve been making his breakfast. Usually, I would pre bake his muffins, waffles and freeze them. I kind of feel sorry for him because they don;t look that appetizing and he ends up always skipping breakfast. So I started making him scrambled tofu with cubed frozen sweet potatoes for breakfast. He demanded that I also add carrots and I also put in sliced okra. I sprinkle it with curry powder. I also bake french fries of sweet and russet potatoes. But he really loves the scrambled tofu. When we made the sweet potato fries, he asked to help, so I let him mix in the curry powder over the unbaked fries, and even pour them on the pan before putting them in the oven. I had taken photos but he had deleted them. What  a shame. I make a big deal of him helping out in the kitchen because with his allergies, I usually don’t let him help much whereas the older kids all had their hands in their food since a young age. I find that letting kids work in the kitchen help with their learning overall. So I have been feeling bad for Z. Alhamdulillah, he’s been asking to help more and more now. Maybe after seeing his siblings always pottering about in the kitchen. A good thing, alhamdulillah.

I had checked out Janice Van Cleave’s Play and Find Out About Bugs, but haven’t yet had the chance to do any of the activities with Z.

Last week was hectic for me and we’re about to embark on one of our road trips for ‘ilm/hubs’ conference this month, so I’m thinking it will be hectic in the coming week. Well, at least he’s still learning from the little sessions we are able to have alhamdulillah.

Categories: Allergies, Animals, Books, Homeschooling, Reading, Science, Youtube, 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

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