(20:114) ربِّ زِدْنِي عِلْماً

Monday, June 30, 2008

DIY Dollhouse

If Razanne needs a place to stay, make her one of these!

If We Ever Get Through Saxon Math

I think, InshaALLAH, we will be going with Singapore Math next year. I like the thoroughness of Saxon Math but it is a sightly different approach than what I am looking for. It teaches the bare-bones essentials of math and lays a foundation that every child needs but it is repetitive and bland.

Singapore Math is more conceptual, using what they describe as "The Concrete > Pictorial > Abstract approach."
I printed the placement test for potential grade 2 students and it looks like she will be on track for the second grade math program once we finish the Saxon Math program for grade 1, InshaALLAH. You can see the placement guide here. Singapore Math also offers Standard (metric) or U.S. versions of their texts. We will go with standard since we are in Canada, InshaALLAH.

I thought that this year was going to be harder than the previous year simply because I planned to introduce my son into the homeschooling environment on a more formal level as well. However, he was a bit too young and I was too ambitious.

Every day he joins us in the classroom for a short while to help with art projects and listen to the Quran sessions, along with games and coloring (he loves to draw but isn't interested in coloring). I found out a lot about his learning style just by observing him. He has a good attention span and has a real interest in our Arabic sessions.

The new school year, InshaALLAH, will be his introduction to school, perhaps starting with the Calvert School Kindergarten program that I already have and assessing his progress at the halfway point of the upcoming school year. This means that I must revamp the schedule to fit in individual and group activities.

How will I keep myself from being overwhelmed? Well, for us, routine is always the key. And, knowing that I don't have to be a slave to a curriculum also helps. If I feel that my daughter won't benefit from doing a mundane task that the book suggests or it's too time-consuming or just plain ridiculous, we skip it. No guilt, no hassle. I never skip the important things, but I can think of something better to do than marching around the house saying the alphabet which she has known since she was very young.

If I don't plan accordingly, it can turn into a real mess, so careful scheduling is the backbone of our day and I know ahead of time if I can combine lessons or need to spend extra time or supplement a lesson. It saves a lot of time and I don't feel like I didn't provide a quality day for the children.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rosetta Stone Lesson 1

Progress So Far

I began the first lesson yesterday and worked for a little over an hour. I must say that I am pleasantly surprised. I liked the demo but actually starting the lessons is a breath of fresh air for me. I started it yesterday and right away it tested me with singular, dual,and plural nouns and verbs. The program also immediately focuses on pronunciation and correct spelling. So far, it's covering things that I have done before, but the pace is fast so that gives me a bit of pressure and I must think fast. By the way, it is catered to different age groups.

Oriental Trading Company

I got a catalog from Oriental Trading Company the other day. They seem to have lots of arts and crafts and party supplies. They have supplies for teachers also. If you look on their site, they sometimes have free craft projects. Canadians can order from them through their partner Borderfree.

Classroom Supply Stores

Here are some sites that sell classroom/school supplies.

They have a lot to offer, including specialized tables for arts and crafts or for younger students, early childhood furniture and play centers.

After searching the net for a bit I am pleased that each of these last three are Canadian. No customs taxes!

edited to add: I posted them (and others) in the sidebar for convenience.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quick, Easy Crafts

I found a website via Making Memories' blog called kids craft weekly that has a list of printable craft ideas.

We made one of the stick puppets (they don't have faces) and the space shuttle picture.

Princess on a Stick

It was quick and fun and best of all, we had all of the items on hand for once. We were going to use little star stickers but ironically, I gave them to the kids just yesterday because we never really use them.

Space Race

Ribbons of Smoke

Visiting Jupiter

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Need Something Like These

This is the perfect height to sit directly under the white board in the classroom without compromising space. It would be perfect for the library. Anyone know where I can find one for a good price?

And I love this to lock away all the art supplies and important things. Of course, a file cabinet would do just as well but could I find one in a lovely red?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

More Work for Mom

Rosetta Stone

I recently received the Rosetta Stone Arabic program and I am giving myself more work! I hope to get a nice routine going and then introduce it to my daughter in the fall, InshaALLAH. This is the homeschool edition so it has lesson plans laid out and a multitude of available options such as a full year program for each level (there are three), or you can focus on listening skills, speaking skill, etc. The good thing about the homeschool edition is that you can pay in interest-free installments, AlhamduLILLAH.

I have been a bit lazy with the 10 Forms Chart for Arabic Verbs so I had to break out the books again:


This one has an excellent condensed explanation at the beginning which helped me to remember the main points of the 10 Forms:

501 Arabic Verbs

Along with this, we have a set of storybooks in Arabic from seller Arabicprints on eBay. We bought these some time ago so you would have to ask if they are able to find more. The brother who sold them was very nice and we were able to buy several Arabic resources from him.

Stories of the Prophets I

These are written in Arabic and I need to go through them and translate. They are written in a comic book style with plenty of Arabic to read. There's Nuh Alayhis Salaam (Noah), Musa Alayhis Salaam (Moses), Yunus Alayhis Salaam (Jonah) and so on.

The Books are Here

I got the Islamic Social Studies books from Noor Art and Islamic Bookstore. I am very happy with them.

Islamic Social Studies Texts

The box for them is flimsy so I had to take them out but otherwise everything is all right. I like the supplementary book as well. I bought the first grade binder for now because these are pricey.

Supplementary Books

This one came with a world map and a poster of different Muslim cultures celebrating Eid.

World Map

Eid Celebrations Around the World

InshaALLAH this will be of great benefit to us. It was very tough finding Islamic Social Studies books and fortunately these are for K-6. I want the kids to learn about the strides of Muslims and most books don't cover these things. For a moment, I was tempted to purchase from this publisher and adapt their social studies curriculum (Christian based?) to suit our needs.

I visit a few non-Muslim homeschool blogs and they seem to have the advantage of established Christian-based homeschool products to teach their children about Christian explorers and founding fathers, so why not us?

More Garage Sale and Thrift Books

Here are the books that my husband purchased at the garage sale:
Garage Sale Books
He said that he spent about $6.

I also went to Value Village and found a set that is missing a few of it's books on the provinces of Canada.
Some of the Provinces

I'm sure if I had the time to go back and take a look the rest of them are there. The section of books is neatly stacked but they aren't organized. I did manage to find these two and a picture dictionary:

More Books

Garage Sales and Carnivals

Garage Sales and Carnivals

This weekend was quite busy for us. Saturday morning my husband stopped by a local Catholic school's garage sale and bought a stack of books and this two-sided easel for $5:

New Easel.

We bought one a couple of years ago from a yard sale for about $2 but it was bulky and awkward. This one is much better because they don't have to fight for space.

Olive Grove School had their carnival today. Apparently, this was the second summer that they have hosted it and I thought it was nice. Very low-key and easy. The children were well-behaved (all of the children, not just ours) and there was no fighting or unruly pushing and shoving which unfortunately tends to happen during Eid.

Two weeks ago, we attended a picnic hosted by Troid at High Park and it was nice as well. It was sort of cloudy that day so I didn't get a chance to take photographs.

Olive Grove School Carnival I

The children had lots of fun on the many bouncy castles and slides.
Olive Grove School Carnival III

They were very brave and athletic as they climbed and slid down the shark and Spider Man!


Ready, Steady, Go!

There was also a clown who made balloon shapes for the children.

Clowning Around

I really appreciated the fact that he wasn't one of those hyper and obnoxious clowns because they tend to scare children. He simply made the balloons and went on his merry way.

It rained a bit at first but then it got sunny and warm. There was an auction but the kids were too tired so I didn't check it out. We got home just in time because the sky grew dark and the clouds poured buckets of rain. It was so dark, I had to check the clock to see if it was time to pray Maghrib.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Expensive Ways to Build A Library

If it didn't cost so much I would be all over this: Scholastic My Arabic Library :Grade 2 . Even if I saved the money for it I would feel so bad about buying 40 books for $199.

My husband suggested that we start our very own library at home, (he used to be a librarian). Then, the children could learn the importance of caring for their books and it might help to keep things orderly, InshaALLAH.

We need something like this to get us started,including library cards. I will have to look around and see if I can find a bargain somewhere, InshaALLAH.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Today's Activities

Breaking Out the Paints

We hadn't done any painting in a while so today the kids convinced me to grab the watercolors. I have a few photos in a note booking group on http://www.flickr.com/ and the moderator of the group documents her homeschool in photographs there. She had a clever idea for teaching her kids to spell the days of the week. Just take a white sheet of paper and have them copy the words in white crayon. Then, they can use watercolor paints on the paper and the words will show up. My daughter was thrilled when the words appeared. Quick and easy fun, he he.

Days of the Week

Also my son has developed a fascination with eggs. He wants to hatch them and take care of the babies! While this is adorable, it is costing me eggs. He went to the fridge and convinced his big sister to get a couple of eggs out for him. He tried to hatch them on the living room floor. Now, he is making his own eggs out of Play-Doh,(AlhamduLILLAH) for his dinosaurs.


Time to Assess and Plan

Time to get to work

So it's about time for me to do a mini-assessment of the school year and see what improvements and changes need to be made. At the rate we are going, we should be able to finish everything by the end of September, InshaALLAH. The second week of October is the worst case scenario. This is good since Ramadan and EID are right around that time and InshaALLAH we will be preparing for the baby soon after that. I think we will take a two week break upon the arrival of the baby so that we can adjust our routine.

So far, I am very pleased with the Saxon Math and Phonics programs. She's learning things a bit earlier than I did when I was in school and I am totally impressed with her recall ability. She is well on her way to becoming a fabulous reader, InshaALLAH.

I feel that McGraw-Hill Science 1 is about average, although we really need to implement some fun experiments into the program from time to time. The experiments are pretty basic and easy to do but nothing exciting. I was disappointed that we haven't had a chance to grow our sunflower seeds yet but maybe soon, InshaALLAH.

Quran memorization is coming along as well. She's memorized Suratul Nas also but due to technical issues I haven't been able to post a recording yet. Now she is working on Suratul Kauthar. My husband took her to a local mosque and she recited for a friend of his who is a Tajweed instructor. Masha'ALLAH he said she is doing well.

We have been working with Harcourt Brace's social studies book A Child's Place, Grade 1 and using the accompanying Activity Book. I think this is a very straightforward way of covering the basics of community and the outside world (map reading, what is a good/service?/how families change, etc), but I want to do a little more. I found a nice set of K-6 Islamic social studies texts that cover these things and add a multicultural, Islamic perspective. The set can be bought separately as well but shipping is outrageous to Canada if I buy it that way. I also got the supplementary books for grade 2 from Noor Art. This I did buy separately because it's a bit on the pricey side. It lists applicable activities and has corresponding lessons.

Another concern of mine is Arabic. I have taken three online Arabic courses to learn Fusha. I can read it and break down sentences grammatically but I cannot speak it fluently. I think we will be taking a different approach with Arabic from now on. We will still learn Fusha but we will also learn MSA for the sake of conversation. There is nothing worse than going to a function (like a recent picnic held by one of the city mosques) and having all those sisters shun you and speak Arabic in your face like you don't exist. Besides, it's important that we learn it in spite of things like that because it is a duty for all of us. Because of this, I have spent some time on Rosetta Stone's website in the Arabic demo section. They are quite expensive but they have a payment plan for the homeschool program. My daughter will be taking this in the mornings, InshaALLAH while I work with the younger two. I won't start this with her immediately; I will probably wait until the new school year for her. I will start this for myself as soon as it arrives, InshaALLAH.

One thing we do to compensate for these purchases is take advantage of any available payment plans. Another big thing for us is that we don't spend extravagantly in other areas of our lives. Neither of us is big on shopping at the malls on the weekend or frivolous buying. Not to say that we are suffering for the sake of education, but we always make sure that we can keep these things within our grasp.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Look at these! I am looking for something for the children to play with since the newly renovated playground in the back of our house is already covered in some of the most disgusting profanity. These look so incredible, although I was thinking of something a bit more modest than say #133.