Saturday, August 25, 2012

Interested in a Not-Back-to-School blog hop?

I've seen all kinds of interesting Not-Back-To-School Blog-Hop posts as we get nearer to the end of the summer, with lots of homeschoolers sharing their curriculum choices, schoolroom set-ups and daily schedules. It's all very helpful, since I plan to start our "official" homeschooling in a few weeks. But there's one thing missing: I haven't found any examples of how people plan to go about teaching Quran, which is the part of homeschooling I feel least confident about. When it comes to academics - reading, math, and so on - I'm pretty sure that all that will be fine insha'Allah, especially since Basbusa is only four! But for Quran, I'm always worried that I'm pushing too much (or too little?), or approaching it the wrong way, or being too picky (or not picky enough?) about perfect pronunciation, or getting the balance wrong between new surahs and revision... Maybe because I wasn't raised Muslim myself, or maybe just because it's such a big responsibility, I feel so clueless when it comes to teaching the girls Quran.

Would anybody else be interested in a Muslima-focused version of a Not-Back-To-School Blog-Hop, where we could share posts about our goals, methods and curricula for Quran and Islamic Studies with our kids in the upcoming academic year?

I'm totally open to suggestions, but what I was thinking, for example, is that anyone who would like to participate might write a post on their blog covering something like:

  • age of kids
  • goals for how much you'd like them to memorize this year insha'Allah
  • all the technical details of how you go about the process. How long do you spend per day? Do you use a tutor or an online program or website, or do it all yourself with your children? How do you balance review and new memorization? Do you have any kind of reward system?
  • any questions or worries you have about it (children not focused, reluctant, pronunciation difficulties, whatever)

Then I'd host a linky here, and we could all share our posts. If that went well, we could do another one on Islamic Studies. What do you think? Please leave a comment if you'd be interested! Jazaakum Allahu khayr :)

Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (4)

For the last week of our preschool "Ramadan Club," we had waaaaaay too many letters left to cover: ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي. But we gave it a try anyway :) I only have two new games to share this time, because some of the others were repeats from previous weeks, and not all of my new game ideas were as popular with the kids as I had hoped.

- This wasn't really a stand-alone game. I just wrote a big letter و on a piece of cardboard and taped it to a stick. Throughout the class whenever anyone got something right or did something well, I waved it around and everyone yelled out, "wow!!" :)

Playdoh letter-building circle

  • I pre-rolled some long playdoh "snakes" and dots, because I didn't want the kids to get too distracted by the fun of playing with playdoh during class.
  • I gave each kid a paper plate, a snake, and two dots, and asked them to sit on the floor in a circle.
  • Then I asked the kids to use their snake-and-dots to build me a ف on their paper plate.
  • When everyone was done, I asked them to pass the plates to the person on the right, and change the letter they received into a ق.
  • And so on, changing back and forth from ف to ق, as I gradually sped up how fast I called out the letters and how fast they had to pass the plates around the circle.
  • Sometimes I'd try to trick them by calling out the name of the letter they already had, rather than the opposite one. 

I was trying to get them to remember that the difference between the two letters is that the ق has two dots and a "deeper" tail, whereas the ف has just one dot and a "flatter" tail.

Sand-Tray Letter Writing

  • To help the kids learn ك and ل, I wrote the two letters side by side on a big piece of paper, and we talked about how their shapes were similar and different.
  • Then I set up three trays with about half an inch of sand in them, and a copy of the two letters right in front of each tray.
  • The kids took turns to use their fingers to "write" the letters in the sand.
It sounds pretty simple but the kids liked it a lot, and kept asking for more turns. This is a Montessori-based idea, and the theory is that the kids get two kinds of reinforcement at the same time: the see the shape with their eyes, and they feel the shape (and the motion of making it) with their finger. Hint: to save your floor, put a tablecloth or something under the trays of sand!

For more in this series of posts, please see
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (1) ,
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (2) and
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (3).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (3)

We had a bunch of letters to cover this week in our preschool "Ramadan Club": س, ش, ص, ض, ط, ظ, ع and غ. We started with a review of the letters we covered in the first two weeks:

Letter Stepping-Stones:

  • I got out our foam letters and pulled out letters ا through ز.
  • I spread them out in a row, spaced jumping-distance apart.
  • The kids lined up and took turns to jump down the row, saying the name of each letter before they landed. (In the end, everyone ended calling out the letters together, for each of the jumpers, which worked even better. More practice for everybody, and helpful for the kids who weren't so sure of all the letters.)
  • Then we moved on to hopping down the row instead of jumping.
The kids were really enjoying it so we could definitely have kept on going with other kinds of jumps, but since it was only review, I wanted to move on to the new letters of the day. 

  • For each kid, I made a set of letter parts like this (you can click to make it bigger, and then print it):

  • Then I wrote one of our eight new letters on the board, repeated its name and asked the kids to build me one like it.
That's it. Simple, but the kids liked it, and it gave me lots of opportunities to repeat the name of the letter over and over again while the kids were focused on the corresponding letter-shapes. 

We seem to do a lot of jumping in these games, I know! 
  • I wrote our eight new letters on the board, and had the kids crouch down on the floor like frogs.
  • If I called out a letter that has a dot (or dots), the kids had to jump up in the air as high as they could. If I called out a letter with no dot, they had to stay still. 
  • In the beginning, I helped out by pointing to the letter as I said it, and then moved on to saying the letter without giving them hints.
  • They were really enjoying the jumping, so in the end we had them jump three times for three-dot letter, once for one-dot letters, and not at all for no-dot letters.
Al7amdulillah, the kids had fun, and ended up with at least a basic grasp of the new letters. Eight new letters for a bunch of four-and-five-year-olds in twenty minutes is really too much, no matter how much fun you make it, but we're trying to get through the whole alphabet during Ramadan insha'Allah.

For more in this series of posts, please see
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (1),
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (2) and
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (3).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (2)

I have two more games to suggest from our "Ramadan Club" last week, when we covered the letters ج, ح, خ, د, ذ, ر and ز.

Add-The-Dot Race:
We did this with ج, ح and خ, but you could use any group of letters that look the same except for the dots.

  • We divided the kids into three groups at one end of the room, and gave each group a piece of chalk. 
  • I set up a big chalk-board at the front of the room, and wrote three big ح 's on it (one for each group).
  • When I called out a letter (ح, ج or خ), the kids were supposed to discuss where to put the dot, have one person run up to the chalkboard and put the dot in the right place, run back to their group again and yell out the name of the letter when they arrived. (If I had called out a ح, they just tapped the chalkboard without writing any dot.) 
  • The group whose runner arrived back first won the race.
In reality, the kids didn't really discuss where to put the dot - whoever was holding the chalk just ran. I had been hoping they'd discuss it partly because our group is uneven in terms of how well the kids know their letters, so I didn't want some kids always getting it "right" while others always got it "wrong", and partly because I was hoping that they'd reinforce each other's knowledge by using the letter names in their discussion of where to put the dots. But never mind :) 


  • I made this bingo sheet with the letters د, ذ, ر and ز.
  • I wrote the letters on four balls (but you could use pieces of paper, or anything else) and put them in a bucket.
  • I pulled out one ball at a time, held it up and said its name, and the kids had to find a matching letter on their sheets (each letter appears many times) and put an "X" through it.
  • First person to get a complete row of X's wins. 

For more in this series of posts, please see
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (1),
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (3) and
Preschool Arabic Alphabet Games (4).