Thursday, April 22, 2010

tot school: Arabic alphabet puzzle

Parents of kids learning the alphabet in English might not appreciate how overjoyed I was to find this toy/puzzle for sale for only $15 at an Islamic bookfair near our house last week!
You can pick up similar things in English at any dollar store, but Arabic is a whole other story. I'd seen these online in several places, but the only size that seemed to be in stock anywhere was the large size, with 12"x12" squares, for the insanely ridiculous price of $40. So, I had pretty much given up and stopped looking. But the ones on sale at the bookfair were 6"x6" - a much more manageable size for a toddler in any case - and although $15 is still ridiculous since they probably cost about $0.10 to manufacture, I still snapped one up.

And Basbusa loves it! Her new puzzle-doing skills transferred right over to these mats, and she also loves that you can use the squares to build cubes, towers and "houses" as well as just lying them flat on the floor. I pulled out only the eleven letters she already knows, and I'll add to them as she learns new ones (so that she knows which way up they're "supposed" to go and doesn't accidentally confuse herself by getting used to seeing them upside-down or sideways).

And another bonus: dip them in water, and they stick to the wall!
Basbusa was thrilled, and spent way longer than I expected trying to get all the dots in just the right places beside their letters. Lots of fun!

It looks like these things are now back in stock online, too! NoorArt has them here, and they also have a cheaper, smaller version (4"x4" squares) for $9.


  1. As Salaamu Alaykum, I love the foam Arabic Mat, I have the English Aplha and Numbers, and so would love to buy these insha Allah. I wanted to ask you about the background of your blog, how did you make it?

  2. w3laykum asSalaam!

    To make the background I started out in Microsoft Word, and just typed a few random numbers and Arabic letters in big font. Then I took a screenshot (when you get your computer to "take a picture" of whatever you have on your screen at that moment - if you have a PC, there should be a button to press called "Print Screen," or "PrtSc" or something like that; I'm not sure what it's called on a Mac) and pasted it into Paint (that little drawing program that is always included with Windows - you just open the program after pressing the PrtSc button, and choose edit->paste).

    Then I dragged the edges to "crop" the picture, so that only the white background with the letters and numbers remained, rather than all the other random things that were also on my screen at the time I took the screenshot, like the Start menu and the clock, etc etc).

    So that left me with a picture about three inches square, with a white background and some letters and numbers on it. I used Paint to move the numbers and letters around a bit, so that they looked more "randomly" placed rather than lined up in rows. The next thing to do was change the colors. I played with the colors in Paint for a while, but Paint is really not great for doing anything in detail, and actually I ended up borrowing a computer that had Adobe Illustrator on it, in order to get exactly the colors I had in mind. (But if you're ok with using the basic pre-set colors that Paint provides, you should be ok.)

    So then I had a 3"x3" picture in the colors I wanted, with the letters and numbers sprinkled "randomly" on it. The last step was just to put it as a background for my blog, and tell Blogger that I wanted it to repeat the image over and over again to fill up the whole background.

    I'm not sure whether that's too much detail or too little, but let me know if you have any more questions and I'll be happy to try to explain better!

    Thanks for a great blog - I really enjoy reading what you write :)

  3. As Salaamu Alaykum,

    Okay, Masha Allah I surely will have to give it a try. I for one don't know anything about illustrator, but know all about prtsc button and paint! I also know a little paint shop pro and photo shop. I have added you to my blog roll. Look forward to reading more posts insha Allah