(20:114) ربِّ زِدْنِي عِلْماً

Friday, February 29, 2008

Almost wrapping up the week

Saxon Phonics

Today we plowed ahead though the Saxon Phonics program with ease. Everything was pretty basic because she has been able to read since October. The challenge for her is learning the rules for coding vowels and remembering them.

There are nice activities for which you prepare the night before - it takes all of five minutes of sit down time. There were mini spelling tests which gave her no problem. Next week, InshaALLAH, there will be more involved tests.

We try to do something fun and artistic each week as well. This week was mostly clay modeling and we did some abstract painting. This is my daughter's painting which she insisted had to be done on a cardboard canvas:


I made a smaller felt board so that the children would have access to the felt story pieces all the time since they enjoyed them so much. My son cries when I have them put the pieces away but I have to keep them from my youngest daughter because she is one and some of the pieces are tiny.

Felt board three bears

This board is just a smaller white board that we already had that was difficult to write on. I took the green piece of felt and covered it. The seller flannelfunforall has lots of flannel sets and even gives a discount if you buy a few sets at a time (five, ten, or twenty);the five sets sell for about $18CDN. That's cheaper than a set that I saw at the local bookstore, even with shipping.


To supplement her handwriting, we continued with the "Who is your Lord?" series from www.TalibiddeenJr.com

Allah is my Lord

This is going well because she likes to tell everyone in the house who her Lord is and who their Lord is, etc. She uses English and Arabic interchangeably when she can.

Who is your Lord?

MashaALLAH, please go to the site and take a look at the content there, she has done a great job.


We've slowly been doing the Five Pillars of Islam as well. We have one more to go and our wall will be complete, InshaALLAH.

Four of the Five Pillars

I think I might take some of these worksheets and use them in lapbooks soon, InshaALLAH.

I have a few things that need some attention, like my make-shift bulletin board that I set up last September :

Make-shift bulletin board

On the opposite wall, we have posters to help with Arabic:

Arabic posters

and we have a flag of the Khalifah also which can be seen here in this older classroom photo:

Working hard. I've since taken down from there and have relocated it to the back wall.

After we finished the lessons on stranger danger, I immediately began to teach my daughter her phone number and AlhamduLILLAH, she had no trouble with this. Now, we will work on our address, InshaALLAH.

With all of this, we still missed a day of school due to scheduled doctor's appointments, not to mention we are waiting on our math book to arrive (InshaALLAH this week, ameen), so we will have a little bit of school on Saturday and then I will spend some time fitting in our science and social studies lessons since the books are here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nice to have something of our own

It's nice when you can find something for the children that adds to the quality of time that you spend with them. I found a book called Muslim Nursery Rhymes, by Mustafa Yusuf McDermont and I think it is excellent.

Muslim Nursery Rhymes

I can remember my mother reading or reciting nursery rhymes to me as a child and now I can do the same for my little ones. They like to hear them and often sing or say them on their own throughout the day.

Today, we continued with Saxon and did a little bit of hands on activities about frogs as part of the Islamic Studies series, Who is your Lord? They learned that ALLAH created everything, even the animals, in this case, frogs.

Toilet paper roll frogs

They colored the eyes black to take out the faces!

No idle hands

We also did a little mosque construction today and my daughter asked me why it came with four pillars instead of five, lol. She's slowly learning about the five pillars of Islam and I thought this was cute.


I got this from the Online Islamic Store website and I think it's a real blessing. As much as I like and support some Melissa and Doug products, I like to see things that identify with our way of life.

Middle Eastern

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Class and lesson helpers

I am almost finished rearranging our tiny classroom and I am pleased with our space. I had to reorganize to maximize the available space, so I put various little things in rolling carts that have drawers:

Classroom bins

These are handy for dinosaurs, puzzles, Play-doh and art supplies. One drawer stores our worksheets for the week and another has pencils and extra writing utensils. It seems that no matter how many pencils I purchase, they are hard to find when we need them.

Room divider

This is one of the places that we use with our felt stories/calendar felts. I need to add Velcro to the backs of the flashcards that you see with the Islamic months on them. We found these at a used classroom furniture sale last summer, along with our white board. The seller was literally down the street from us on the side of the road. We almost did not see him. He delivered everything and gave us a really nice price. The other board has some felt pieces on it. I need to cut them a bit and shape the bottom piece like grass. Felt is nice because it is really inexpensive; I found these at Walmart.

felt pieces

So far, my daughter is responding well to the phonics program - I am still waiting for a piece of the math curriculum. We also did a session about stranger danger - which included advice about speaking to people who are Muslim that you do not know. I explained that returning salaams to others is fine but never go home with/accept gifts/food/rides from someone you don't know, even if that person appears to be Muslim. Always refuse. I went here for a lesson plan that I loosely used as a guide. Now, we will focus on reciting and writing our address and telephone number, InshaALLAH.

One thing I am pleased with is the teacher's manual that I recently received for our science lessons

Teacher's Manual

This book is nice because it has the lesson plan drawn up for you!

Why I like the teacher's manual

This saves me a lot of time. I found out about this text through Follett Educational Services. They sell used text books and they deliver to Canada and abroad. I didn't actually purchase from them because the books were not available at the time but their site is invaluable because it lists the accompanying texts for whatever book you need. It also gives the ISBN so I used that information to get the science texts for $5 U.S. from another seller.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Felt fun

Felt printables

I set up a felt board in the classroom - really, we have a couple of those dividers that are used to make office cubicles. I put some felt on one of them to spruce it up. These are from www.childcareland.com a resource for printables and homeschool/preschool ideas and activities. I colored and laminated these and put velcro on the back. I also have some flashcards for the Islamic months that we use.

Ideally, the kids will be responsible for updating the calendar, InshaALLAH. Initially, they will need help of course but after a while, they should get the hang of it. I was going to purchase a pocket chart but if I can make do with what I have using a little imagination and taking a few extra minutes to make the materials, why not?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tentative schedule

Here is a glimpse of our upcoming week for grade 1, InshaALLAH.

Friday wasn't clear so I didn't scan it (I am doing everything in pencil just in case), but Saxon has four days of lessons and then an assessment day for phonics and math,so Friday will be assessments and catch up day if need be, InshaALLAH. We will also do a Friday art lesson - probably something from www.donnayoung.org.

My husband found a new link: http://www.quranexplorer.com/quran/

The quality of the audio is great and you can choose to hear Arabic with an English translation per line or simply listen to the Arabic. Enjoy!

Is this what they mean by socialisation?

It's really sad when a first grade child is being harassed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nutrition lesson plans

I found this today: http://www.nutritionexplorations.org/educators/main.asp

There are classroom printables, including a felt story about a city and country mouse trying different types of cheeses. There are extensive food pyramid pictures/posters to print and laminate. One of the posters had a pork chop so I changed it to a lamb chop. Everything else was all right, I believe.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saxon is here!

We received our Saxon Phonics and the manipulative kit for the Saxon Math program on Friday.

140 lessons

I am very excited about using Saxon. The phonics program is 28 weeks, which breaks down to 140 lessons, 4 lessons and then an assessment. There are workbooks, games, readers, spelling tests, the works. Saxon teaches the affixes, digraphs, diphthongs, etc.

Saxon Extras

I read about the advantages and disadvantages of Saxon and I think for us, it is the way to go. I'm not much of an unschooler - I need the structure because I am way too paranoid about skipping something and ruining her educational foundation, especially in math.

Saxon 1 Math Manipulative Kit

I am excited about her natural aptitude,alhamduLILLAH, but I want to make sure she has the discipline to learn the things with which she is not so comfortable. I notice her boredom or sudden weariness when we get to something difficult or tedious like handwriting, so I push onwards a little and ignore the whining. Most of the time I think she is just testing my limitations and if I encourage her to continue she does well. Now, we have to wait for the other books. :)

By the way, if you go to this link there are many different pictures available to make your own mural.


I will color them and cut them out for our bulletin board, InshaALLAH. There are also a myriad of other types of pictures and such for posters, bookmarks, classroom decorations and so on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting down to business

I've been all over the web scouring blog after blog to figure out how to better organize the school and our lives. I finally found www.donnayoung.org - run by a homeschool master! She has documents for just about everything you can imagine and I am so thankful that I found her site. She even has useful tips for the different subjects, including art. There are drawing exercises with evaluations every few lessons that will aid your child with mastering the basic shapes and lines in handwriting.

I saved the documents and now I have my very own lesson planning binder, complete with attendance and grade sheets. There's also plenty of writing space for extras like unit studies, Arabic, Islamic studies (like this 52-week one), etc.

Time to get to work

We're still working on counting with money and I'm trying to organize my thoughts for the direction of the homeschool - including the addition of my son in a "formal" or should I say guided preschool curriculum. There are some things that we can all do together, like recitations of the Qur'an, listening to www.reciter.org and our read aloud sessions. He's doing really well with his potty training too so I will have to keep his needs in mind by scheduling regular washroom breaks and such.

I don't want to overwhelm him but I do want to make sure his day is full of useful activities and that he isn't a distraction to his big sister - I anticipate his little sister as the biggest distraction/challenge, so if I can keep him busy there will be only the little one to appease.

InshaALLAH I will try to post a schedule soon, to give an idea of how we spend our time in the classroom but for now it's still pretty rough. Hopefully, in the next week or so this will be done. It's a lot of work and I have to say, teachers deserve much more applause than they receive.

Newest smart toys are from ToysrUs, courtesy of Granny!

what a deal

These puzzles come four in a pack for $3.98CDN and they have everything from planets and maps to animals, alphabet and numbers! My little ones love puzzles so I will have to introduce new ones little by little or according to our studies.

One unit study/lapbook I would like to do is on nutrition. These should be handy for that:

Fruits and vegies

We also got tons of Play-Doh to occupy us.
Granny is so gracious, we love her!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fun in the snow

Today we took it easy and went out into this:


It was nice to get out because there was no ice and most importantly, no wind! Canadian winds are fierce. I never felt cold like this before. My niqab is sometimes frozen when I go out and feels kind of crunchy, lol. When I lived in Virginia, we had mild winters, in fact, the high temperature today in Richmond is 58 degrees (14C)! Here, it is 24F/-4C. Big difference, huh? Or should I say "eh"?


The kids loved being out today but I have to really watch my son because he insists on eating the snow.

caught eating it again - yuck

snow pies

That's a big no-no around here because there is always evidence that the neighbors have lots of dogs. Yuck.

Thanks to Granny, we've added another "smart toy" into the house:

Melissa and Doug Puzzle

I don't know Melissa and Doug personally, nor do I have any stake in the company,(too bad for me), but I really like their puzzles. They are very sturdy and the kids love them. I've made a tremendous list of wants.
When we first had the children, I knew that I wanted to homeschool but I didn't put enough thought into the benefits of what we call "smart toys", meaning the ones that don't think, move, talk, play, sing, run for you. I like hands-on toys like blocks, dolls and doll houses, cars, dinosaurs,etc.
Of course, now that I see my children playing and interacting, I want toys that encourage simultaneous learning and entertainment. So, I realize we have an overabundance of stuffed animals packed away in the closet, along with a bunch of other miscellaneous things that haven't been missed. These things must go where they will be loved and appreciated.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Time to shop around

Since my last post, we've been busy in these parts. We just returned from the library, well, actually, we went to two. I am trying to create a library for my kids so I visit the neighbors when they have yard sales and we check the library for old stock. The first one that we visited didn't have any discards but the second had a few interesting books and vhs tapes.

Library Discards

Oh, and I was excited to get this in the mail today:

Manners all around

It's available at Islamic Bookstore. The kids are at the age where they are getting a bit rowdy with one another and they are starting to have issues with sharing and pushing so I have to step in right away. I want them to treat one another with respect in the home as well as outside. The cards are neat; I think everyone could benefit from these, not just Muslims. You can't go wrong respecting your elders or visiting the sick and there's so much baraka to be gained from doing so.
Manners all around

We have nearly finished the Calvert Kindergarten curriculum and it's time to figure out what to do next. I ordered Saxon Math 1 and am very excited to get it. I've read a lot of good things about it and hope that it helps me to not only keep my daughter on track but give her a good foundation. As for the rest of the curriculum, that is still being decided.

My son is of preschool age (2) so I have to get started on that as well. He's learning the Arabic alphabet now via Alif is for Asad which is excellent, and with this puzzle that we purchased from Noor Art some time ago.

Arabic Alphabet Puzzle

We also need to work on potty training and I hope Elmo helps me get the job done a little easier because the boy so far is what I would call a bit reluctant.

For the boy

We used to watch Art Attack
all the time and I always wanted to do some type of Papier-mâché because it looked so simple and fun. I remember making an elephant in grade school and it turned out really well. My daughter has an interest in planets and solar systems right now so we have dabbled in an informal unit study on planets. Science and social studies are introduced in first grade so I think I might make some lapbooks. In the meantime, we made the planet earth and it is so cool!

Our Planet
I can't believe how well it turned out and must say we are quite proud of it. Now, we just need to do the rest of the solar system - and the moon, eek!