The Railway Children


Alhamdulillah, another productive weekend has come and gone. Time is flying past, subhanAllah. This is the summary of what we did this weekend.


We started with circle time activity: Skip counting in 2s, 3s, 5s and 10s. Recognizing the numbers up to 100 and 1000. Identifying place value in numbers up to 100 and 1000. I write a number on board “245, 58, 79”, then ask them to read the number and answer “How many hundreds in 245?” or “How many tens in 58?” etc. Also reinforce some basic concepts like when we add the number should increase; subtracting is the same as countdown so the number should decrease- and we need these skills in our everyday life (When following a recipe for something we want to bake or cook, when shopping to check if we are given the correct amount of change)

And some problem solving activities where they had to work out the answer by themselves. And they continue with MEPs pages at home.


  • Motivation- some girls are naturally sharp and clever in Maths. They understand all the concepts and are quick to work out the answers. Some are so demotivated, not necessarily because they don’t know the answers, but simply because of the lack of interest. They can do but they take ages to complete the activities and need a lot of push and reminders.
  • Mental maths- overall they all need more practice with calculations “in their head”. Some can’t do anything unless they put the pen to paper and do all the sums on paper.
  • Problem solving- again, we have to work on understanding certain formulas such as a+b=c, so a=c-b and b=c-a

InshaAllah, we will start with Maths next week as we have been leaving it to the end (as many prefer to start with Science and English) and we don’t seem to have enough time to complete everything planned. So, we will swap the order or lessons each week to add a bit of variety inshaAllah.


The Railway Children (book).jpgWe read a passage from The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. I did guided reading with the younger group. The story was written over a hundred years ago, hence some vocabulary are hard to understand. So we read it together and had a group discussion. One of the girls brought the abridged version of the story so we had extended discussion and children really liked the story. I always encourage them to answer the questions orally before moving on to writing. It is always easier to write once they have the ideas ready in their minds.

After the group discussion, they have to read the text independently and write their answers. Younger group can write short answers whilst older group have to write full sentences (elaborate their answers).

We also did some copywork from the book for handwriting, spelling and punctuation. When they write, I ask them to point out the capital letters, commas and full stops in a sentence and emphasize:

  • Capitals are used at the beginning of each sentence and for proper nouns.
  • Full stop is used at the end of a sentence.
  • Comma is used when two sentences are joined together or when many similar items are listed in a sentence.

Some examples of English work


We covered two topics in Science. On Friday we learnt about Animals.

  • Animal features (land animals may have claws, fur and tail. water animals may have fins, gills and scales)
  • Their food habits (Plant eating animals are herbivores, meat eating animals are carnivores, both plant and meat eating animals are omnivores)
  • Animal habitat (domestic or wild; animal homes: dens, burrows, kennel, trees etc)

On Saturday we learnt about Human Body in detail. They learnt some terminology (including myself). Some basic concepts covered in class:

  • Skeleton gives structure to our body and consists of bones. Adults have 206 bones, babies have around 300. We have different bones including vertebrates, tibia and flat bones in our skull
  • Internal organs are protected by our bones and each have an important function
  • Muscles cover the bones and help us to move. Bones are hard and rigid whereas muscles are soft and elastic.
  • Joint is a place where two bones connect. Some of our joints are elbow, wrist, knee, hips, shoulder and neck.

I deliver the topics with Question and Answer, pair-work and group discussion. Then they have to complete some tasks individually to check if they understand what we just learnt in class. So, they completed the following worksheets

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fun Friday activity

We had fun at the park on Friday, Alhamdulillah. Younger girls were shy to talk about their favourite books to the whole group. But they read their books to each other and we had picnic and race. Alhamdulillah

Humble beginnings


Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah, we have started our weekend home-school programme in Riyadh. It was so nice to work with a bunch of girls over the weekend. We worked hard and played hard too!

InshaAllah, I will be posting weekly updates on what we cover each weekend in Maths, English and Science.

This programme was designed after consultation with parents to meet the needs of our girls some of whom have never been to school (full time homeschoolers) whilst others attend full time Arabic school (homeschooled to supplement English curriculum). So, each add a different dynamic to our learning environment, alhamdulillah.


We are blending Oxford Primary’s Countdown Maths series with Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEPs). We start with circle-time activity where I ask them some mental maths questions like:

  • Count till 100 in 10s, count till 1000 in 100s
  • Skip counting till 20 in 2s, till 30 in 3’s and till 50 in 5s (times table revision)
  • Countdown 50 to 0 in 5s, countdown 20 to 0, 100 to 10 in 10s
  • I shout out the number and ask the girls to identify Hundreds, Tens or Units (Identify Place value)
  • Give one problem solving activity that requires addition/subtraction (for younger group) “I bought a book with 10 riyal and a pencil with 8 riyal. How much money did I spend?” or “I bought a book for 10 riyal. I gave 50 riyal to the shopkeeper. How much change shall I get?”
  • Give one problem solving activity that requires multiplication/division (for elder group)

Then they each have a set of worksheets to do from MEPs. Each do their own work, we go over the answers together. Alhamdulillah, maths is pretty much straightforward. So we can do some group learning (mental maths and problem solving) and they can do their worksheets individually and at home.


We are using Writing With Ease and First Language Lesson (both by the authors of ‘The Well-Trained Mind’). I love these books for a number of reasons. First, they use classical techniques such as dictation, narration and picture study to develop child’s language ability. Second, they use authentic texts and passages from classic children’s literature. Children work with Living Books and thus learn some concepts deductively (they internalize the style and vocabulary). Third,  First Language Lesson is a complete grammar text whilst Writing With Ease is a complete writing programme. And they both compliment each other.

If you ever want Charlotte Mason method of teaching language in action, these are the books that follow her ideas and techniques (narration, picture study, dictation, copywork and especially the use of authentic and genuine text- these are all originally her ideas).

So, the focus of work this week was:

  • Proper nouns (months of the year)
  • Sentence writing (capitalization and full stop)
  • Reading comprehension: They read a passage from The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright and answered questions both orally and in written.
  • Introduction to poems: They read Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson and discussed the poem in groups.
  • Copywork: they all copied a poem about months of the year


We are following Oxford Primary’s Everyday Science. Alhamdulillah, I really like the gradual sequence of topics in the series and how everything in Science is linked to our everyday life. Everybody in the group seems to like Science. We covered the following topics:

  • Surroundings: Clean and Green
  • Living and non-living things (man made and natural)
  • Plants (plant life-cycle, photosynthesis, parts of plants and their functions, types of plants such as climbers, creepers, trees, herbs etc)
  • Plants as food (fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains- all come from plants. They all provide us with minerals and vitamins which are essential for our growth)

MashaAllah, they all knew so much about healthy eating. They were quick to tell me their experiences of healthy eating: one raises her own chickens and they lay fresh eggs for them daily, one tried to grow a watermelon and it is a creeper type of plant, one grows vegetables at home in pots, one grows herbs at home for cooking etc. Although they haven’t done any formal lessons, they already know a lot in Science, so the idea is just to encourage them to think more behind each action in everyday life. They will be moving to creating charts and database collection next week.

Fun Friday activity

We made smoothies and microwave cake in a mug. Massive JazakAllah khayr to a sister who kindly provided all the ingredients and her two daughters took the lead in the kitchen. They even explained to us why they would use almond flour and coconut flour as oppose to normal bleached flour (hint-hint-healthy eating choices). So our microwave mug cake went down so well with mango and strawberry smoothie.

Tips to reinforce learning at home:

  • Ask about different types of plants when you are out and about
  • Ask about living and non-living things around the house
  • Ask about photosynthesis (how plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen)
  • Read any short story together and ask a child to narrate
  • Ask a child to copy the names of the months
  • Skip counting and countdown activities when driving in the car or cooking in the kitchen etc
  • The Railway Children– you may want to tell your children about the book and the author-Edith Nesbit- as we will be reading a passage from it next week inshaAllah.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.