Monday, August 16, 2010

Toddler Ramadan craft: fawanees!

(Update: Please also see this post for an idea geared towards slightly older toddlers/preschoolers)

I haven't found too many Ramadan craft ideas that toddlers can really get the hang of, so I thought I'd share this one just in case it's useful for anyone! Basbusa and I made a bunch of lanterns out of construction paper, and then strung them on a piece of yarn to make a garland. Here's our finished product:

Each lantern takes about 45 seconds to make (well, 45 seconds in grown-up time; longer depending on how old your kid is and how insistent he or she is about doing it "by myself!"). All you need is construction paper, a scissors, and some tape.

We have a pad of 8.5"x11" construction paper, so the first thing we did was cut a sheet in half (to get two short, fat pieces rather than two long, skinny ones):

You'll only need half a sheet for one lantern. The next step is to cut a strip off one of the long edges of the paper (this strip will eventually be the handle of your lantern):

Next up, make a narrow fold along both of the long edges of the paper:

Then flip over your paper and fold it in half, so that the two narrow folds are back-to-back, facing outwards:

Next, open out the two narrow folds so that your paper looks kind of like an odd paper airplane...

... and cut all along the "body" of the plane, with each cut starting from the folded edge and stopping when you reach the "wings."

Open out your paper, wrap it around in a circle, and tape:

Last step, tape on your handle:

Ta-da! All finished. I learned this in elementary school in Ireland (I forget what holiday we were celebrating), and I think I remember that we also taped some red or yellow construction paper inside the lanterns, to make it look as if they were lit. But I thought that was too many steps for Basbusa, and they look fine without it.

How much of this did Basbusa really do? Well, we did the first one together, with her doing practically all of it, and me giving very-very-very detailed guidance on exactly what to cut and what to tape. She was able to do it, but she absolutely adores cutting and taping, and I felt bad spoiling her fun with so many instructions. So from then on, we worked happily side by side, with me making lanterns and Basbusa making this:

The lanterns also look great if your toddler decorates the paper with random scribbles and drawings before you start (as long as they won't mind their picture being cut up afterwards). Normally, Basbusa would have been totally into this stage of the process, but today, the attractions of tape and scissors outshone those of her pens and crayons :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tot-School plans for Ramadan

Ramadan coming up so soon, insha'Allah! I thought I'd post my Ramadan tot-school plans, just in case anyone else is looking for ideas and hadn't yet found these links. We've been reading Ramadan books in the past few weeks just as a kind of a preview of what's coming up, since this will be the first time Basbusa is old enough to have any clue what's going on. I'm hoping to convey a few of the most important parts of the meaning of Ramadan, and also try to recreate the joyful atmosphere and excitement that would be everywhere if we were in a predominantly-Muslim country. So, here's my plan, iA:

  • I'd be happy if she came away understanding what fasting is, what charity is, and that Ramadan is the month when the Quran was revealed.

  • It would be nice if she could learn Aisha's Ramadan dua'a, which has always been one of my favorites (اللهم انك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عنا). I'm not sure whether all the repetition of similar words will make it easier or harder for her, but I'll give it a try and see if she picks it up.

  • Quran memorization and prayer as usual, but on a stricter schedule (right now, they tend to get fitted in around the rest of our activities, rather than the other way around).

  • I hope we can go to a masjid at least twice a week, so that Basbusa gets some of the sense of community, and hears at least a bit of Tarawih.
  • Basbusa's dad has a whole bunch of Ramadan songs that he's known by heart ever since childhood, and which always make him go all sappy and nostalgic when he hears them today :) I remember Christmas carols being the same way for me, so I want Basbusa to have a few of those in her childhood too, iA. We're going to be playing these two Ramadan songs and this Eid song quite a bit as general background noise. (I'll post the lyrics when I get a chance to figure them out iA, just in case there are any other non-native Arabic speakers out there who want to sing along with their kids.)

  • We'll be making a whole bunch of lanterns, insha'Allah! They don't look much like the traditional (or modern plastic glitzy) ones, but hey, pretty lights are pretty lights :) I'm hoping to try this one, this one and this one (just using a bunch of multicolored tissue rather than the Halloween theme!), plus one I remember making myself in elementary school (although it was nothing to do with Ramadan). I got a pack of 8 battery-powered tealight-lookalikes in Walmart for $4, so that we don't burn the house down iA :)

  • I love the Date Chain idea from here! I won't be fasting this year, so I think I'll do a pair of dates each day for Basbusa to open. One for herself, and one to give to Baba to break his fast with.

Other educational activities:

  • I think we'll go moon-watching every night, and take a picture with the digital camera. Hopefully when she can see the pictures all in sequence, Basbusa will pick up a little bit about the lunar cycle?

  • I'm not quite sure yet how to set this up, but it would be nice to have a size-sequencing activity in there. Maybe tinfoil-covered cardboard crescent moons, ranging from big to small? If we could hang them on some kind of a mobile, that would make a pretty decoration too.

  • If I can find some crescent-shaped cookie-cutters, we'll use them for baking cookies, which Basbusa always loves helping with.
And lastly, in a tot-school-related Ramadan assignment for myself, I want to make two lists as I read through the Quran this time insha'Allah. One list will be of verses to do with nature, and the other will be of verses having to do with good behavior (charity, forgiveness, kindness, etc). I'm hoping to intertwine these with tot-school "units" as we go forward - if we're talking about plants, I'll add in a verse about things growing from seeds; if we're talking about bugs, I'll add in a verse about ants, etc. And I was thinking we might pick a 'virtue of the month' to focus on, by talking about a verse that highlights that particular behavior and then looking for opportunities to put it into practice.