Winter is back

Bismillah,

We have had really cold weather over the past couple of weeks. Children started playing out in the garden daily for a couple of hours in mid February. But the weather has been so down again after the 8th of March, on which date we had our big uzbek sumalak party in Manchester. It was so boiling hot on that Saturday the 8th of March 2013. We were thinking of doing the BBQ out in the garden the following weekend. But, subhanAllah, it has been snowing on and off since that date. The temperature is usually below zero outside. We have not been able to finish off our planting project in the garden. Today, after 2 days of non-stop snowing it was about knee high. My husband took kids to local library yesterday. They got stuck in snow and had to be rescued (by me). May Allah keep everyone safe amin.

Homeschooling is very much continuing, alhamdulillah.

Big S.

We do English 2-3 times a week. We do Charlotte Mason style dictation for her spelling once a week. Alhamdulillah, her spelling is excellent. I still need to teach her a lot of punctuation marks though. We try to get her talk about the books she reads. However, she is less and less willing to narrate the story. She just tells us what the story is about in 1-2 sentences. I noticed when she reads books in English and asked to narrate in Uzbek, her brain finds it difficult to do language-switch. It is at this point she gets frustrated because she does not know much of vocabulary in Uzbek in order for her to tell the story fluently. She mixes up a lot of English words to narrate the story. So, I have started to focus on her narrative skills in the English language only. And we usually do written narration as she prefers it to write down rather than to do it orally. Alhamdulillah, she loves writing. I printed out a set of reading comprehension cards. Each card states a question such as Who is the main character? What is the main character like? Which season does the story take place? Are there any sad/funny parts? Which part is your favourite? Would you recommend it to a friend and why? So, she chooses a book to read to me. We discuss the book a little. Then I hold one card at a time. She reads the question and writes the answer down. It helps with grammar/spelling/reading comprehension as she is trying to make her own full sentences, learning to use the correct tense and summarizing the story in the right order etc. Finally, she is practising cursive writing with a workbook. She is not too keen at the moment but she does try.

Maths. She is revising the last 20 pages of MEP YEAR 1. I did look into Kumon Math and other Math workbooks but preferred MEP to all of them. Maybe because we have got used to this programme. It is challenging enough for her and it is not straightforward like Kumon Math. For example, in MEP Year 1, she has learned

  • addition and subtraction using numbers 0-20
  • introduction to multiplication/division,
  • the use of calendar (days of the week, months of the year and how they rotate, how to find a certain date and see which day of the week it will be etc)
  • Lots of problem solving
  • The use of money (coins and notes etc)
  • Odd/Even numbers, 1 digit, 2 digit, 3 digit numbers, units etc
  • Mental maths- how to add/subtract 2 digit numbers mentally, counting by 3’s, 4’s, 5s, 6’s etc

Generally speaking, I am very pleased with what the programme offers and inshaAllah intend to continue with it. I do not want to start MEP Year 2 as I thought it could be too challenging for her current level. Like I said, we have resumed our maths classes after a long break and want to revise MEP Year 1 thoroughly inshaAllah.

Science. She is currently on another KS2 Science workbook learning about shadows, reflection and light. I will update in more detail when she finishes her book inshaAllah.

Qur’an hifdh. Alhamdulillah, we have been able to do a lot of muraajah the past 2 weeks. Every day I ask her to recite 4-5 surah off by heart which she does. Then she chooses 1-2 surah to read from Quran for her tajweed. Alhamdulillah, it is going well so far. I pray Allah makes it regular as we seem to be going through the phase where we do Quran regularly and progress a lot. Then once we drop it we just go into looong break after which we struggle to restart our Quran/Tajweed lessons.

Arabic. She is still continuing with her Madinah Arabic Book 1 and Gateway to Arabic Book 2. She is memorizing lots of vocab, practise handwriting and her Arabic reading improved a lot, mashaAllah.

Small S. Alhamdulilah, she has been able to teach herself how to read. She is now reading books aimed at young readers. We do not do anything except reading together with her. She does practise her writing with workbooks. At this stage, I do not want to push her for anything that she does not show interest. So, whenever she wants to practise her handwriting, I will just pass a worksheet with tracing words or a workbook. She seems to be very good at maths. I am surprised at most things she can do as I did not teach her the way I taught her sister. Maybe she has picked up from her big sister when I was not around. She can count 0-20 and then countdown 20-0. She does additions/subtractions with numbers 0-10 and she is so good at it. She does how many more/how many less activities, like how many more 7 than 5. For which she would have to do 7-5=2. So, the answer is 2 more. All these I don’t remember teaching her. I remember teaching this concept of how many more/how many less to big S and I so remember the frustration we both went through. Every time I asked big S how many more 7 than 5, she would simply say 7 more. Maybe she was too young..wallahu a’lam. Anyway, to me it seems little S grabs most maths concept easily. Even if she does not have a bank of concentration and feels very fidgety during lessons. She is learning lots of topic based vocabs in Arabic and currently finishing off Gateway to Arabic Book 1. Alhamdulillah, she started reading in Arabic awhile ago and improving. This is one of the simple exercises I do with her which she likes. I usually write down 8-10 words that she has learned in Arabic. I write these words without short vowels. For example, I write the q-l-m jointly for the word qolam (pen). Then I read out each word at a time and ask her to put the missing vowels (fatha/damma/kasra). She loves this game and it helped her to read more fluently. She is still on surah Tiyn on Quran Hifdh. She has finished memorizing this surah but at the moment I only do revision with her too. They both listen to Qur’an before bed time for about 30-40 mins (they fall asleep listening to Juzz 30 or Juzz 29 playing in digital Qur’an in their bedroom)

Little I. He has been up to so much lately. He is very much into books, just like his sisters. He is always making one of us read to him and loves joining in, copying the actions of the animals on pages (from illustration). He has started talking properly about 2-3 weeks ago. He is talking so fluently now. He can make sentences and can talk in full sentences, just like adults. Generally speaking, he started to walk, eat, hold a pen and write and talk a lot earlier. We all think it is because he has 2 older sisters from whom he can copy. He has learned a lot of nursery rhymes and starts joining in when his sisters sing for him. His favourite is classic Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep. He loves Five Little Monkeys jumping on the bed, too. He is potty trained thanks to grandma. He loves drawing and often asks us to draw him a monkey.  He plays plasticine daily; making different shapes using the cutters. He loves shape sorters. He can name star, circle, triangle and square when we point and ask him “Which shape is this?”. He loves solving the knob wooden puzzles, playing with his legos and making tall towers with stacking cups. He is learning Arabic alphabet with Alif-Baa-Taa wooden blocks. He can count till 10. He has learned names of few colours. Like I said, I have not been able to spend much 1:1 time with him. But, he is always at the background when I am teaching his sisters and copying whatever they do. When we sit down to read Qur’an and do hifdh, he tries to listen and repeat after his sisters. He tries to say surah Ikhlas and Masad off by heart. Of course he just imitates the sounds. His sisters are teaching him everything (sometimes some naughty things too, like how to make bubbles in cup whilst drinking water or screaming or jumping off the sofa)

Anyway, it is late now and I shall be off to bed. Do let me know of my spelling/grammar mistakes as at this point I can not be asked to proofread or edit. Praying for a positive attitude for all parents out there and finish off with this inshaAllah.

Plants and Animals in their Habitats

Bismillah,

As I said in my previous post after Animals of Farthing Wood books and Farthing Wood Friends magazines, our children have been addicted to all animal stories. They have read the Willowbank, Aesop’s Fables, The Wind in the Willows story collections. In addition, Sumayya has recently been able to finish Key Stage 2 Science workbook on Plants and Animals in their Habitats. Although at times it was a bit challenging for her, I would say she has finished it with relative ease for her age (she will turn 6 in a month inshaAllah and Key Stage 2 is work intended for 7-8 year olds)

What she learnt throughout this book

1. What Green Plants Need to Survive and Fertilisers. There was a lot of activities to do with reading comprehension where she had to read the large text and derive the information to fill in the blanks, to answer questions etc. 

2. Using Keys and Diagrams. This was one of the challenging parts as it was the first time she was introduced to the concept of Keys and Diagrams in Science. But, alhamdulillah, she found it really interesting

3. Making information cards on different animals. Again, she had to read through the text and derive information about each animal

4. Food Chains- very interesting topic for 5 year old. She had so many questions to ask about who is producer, who is consumer, who is predator and who is prey. In the end, I learnt so many things I did not know before as well. Alhamdulillah

5. Different Plants need different things. Some need to be kept indoors and some grow outside, some in direct sunlight and some in shadow etc. We have also looked at different types of soil- clay soil, sandy soil and which plants grow in which type of soil etc.

6. Finally, she learnt that Animals and Plant have to suit their Habitat

I promised to buy Sumayya a plant when she finishes her science workbook as a reward. So, I took both the girls to the plant shop on Monday where they chose a plant and a pack of flower seeds each. We have read the information labels of the plants and placed them on the windowsill in our kitchen. InshaAllah, we will be removing them into a bigger pots soon.

They also have planted their own seeds. 

They had a chance to examine the compost. It was not clay soil, it was not sandy soil. It was just compost soil, apparently!!!

We all can not wait for our plants to shoot off and grow inshaAllah

Farthing Wood Friends

Bismillah,

My dear friend from Edinburgh sent children a parcel about two months ago. There were some animal stickers and about 10 issues of children’s magazine called Farthing Wood Friends. I was not aware of the existence of this magazine previously. MashaAllah, these kept Sumayya busy for weeks on end. And all three children learnt so much about animals. What I really liked about this magazine in particular

  • It teaches children about animals and nature in general. Children grow up to be in so much harmony with the environment around them
  • The activities inside are very engaging and thought-provoking
  • It uses plenty of real-life pictures of animals/plants in nature. Some really capturing moments one just wants to look at for few minutes and say SubhanAllah
  • It uses really beautiful illustrations
  • Wonderful stories inside with follow up reading comprehension activities- good for literacy development
  • And the best part is- it has no adverts and no subtle use of language that encourage children to be materialistic. A lot of children’s magazines these days are full of subtle adverts, pictures of modern toys and children’s gadgets that make them go for certain brand or image (i.e images of Barbie or Hello Kitty etc). These magazines were issued in 1991-1992, two decade ago. (And one can certainly get the feeling of innocent childhood of that time)

After the addiction to magazines, we bought some of the original Animals of Farthing Wood story books. The series were written by Colin Dann in 1979. They were made into animated series by a number of European children’s production companies in 1990s. CDs, DVDs and eventually magazines came out. We have not had a chance to watch any of the animation series, just books and magazines. And both are highly recommended to all children between the ages of 4-8.