Weekend School

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we have started our Raising Sahabas weekend programme in Riyadh. This year we have Year 3/4 group and Year 4/5 group and studying core subjects Maths, English and Science according to British Curriculum. I will be posting weekly updates here inshaAllah as much as I can.

Week one.

English

  • LO- Reading Comprehension in a story poem. Children read the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear and answered questions. We did short dictation for spelling and studied Adjectives. Year 4/5 group studied comparatives and the use of adjectives in a descriptive writing. They had worksheets to complete in pairs and when they finished they did peer-checking (marked each other’s work) Each group had a list of nouns. In pairs, they had to list as many adjectives as they can think of for each noun. We also covered how synonym adjectives used together to create more effect (i.e tiny little puppy)

Maths

  • Problem Solving. I found this really good resource online full of problem-solving activities. Each lesson we start with circle time where they have to solve 2-3 problems in groups. So the problems they had to solve last weekend
    1. Count the number of squares in this shape. Most answered 4 but the answer is 5. Second, move two of the sticks to make 6 number of squares. Only two sticks and two moves allowed.

solution

I gave them out cards numbered 1-9 and they had to be divided into three groups in such a way that the total sum adds up to 15 in each group. MashaAllah, they solved this problem in two different ways.

Third task was to guess the number. It is an odd number between 0-50, has 2 digits, the difference between the numbers 1 and the total sum of 2 digits is 5. MashaAllah, one student guessed the number 23 straight away.
Then we did geometry. Year 3/4 group worked on identifying the line of symmetry in different shapes. Year 4/5 group learning about regular and irregular polygons; measuring angles and finding the missing angle in any given shape.

Science

We learnt about circuits and they enjoyed building circuits. They read through the information, followed the instructions and worked on various projects making parallel and series circuits using a bulb, an alarm, a fan etc.

Alhamdulillah, kids had so much fun building circuits. Looking forward to next week!

Planting trees and book review 2

Bismillah,

We have been quite busy in the garden recently. A couple of weeks ago we all went to one of the biggest garden centres in our area and bought an apple tree, pear tree, some strawberry plants and flowers. We had been waiting for the weather to get a little better and finally last weekend we planted out fruit trees; made a patch for our strawberries and flowers and planted them too! Now, let’s just hope the wind does not blow them away (it is too windy where we live on top of the hill)

Children spend a lot of time outdoors- I mean a lot. They do so much digging and exploring- it makes me crazy sometimes to keep up with all their adventures and bug hunts. We have jars filled with all sorts of garden findings all around the kitchen. Our garden has so many holes thanks to their digging. Things are upside down but I am hoping to spend more time this summer to supervise my kids’ gardening adventures (rather than leaving it up to them)

They also read a lot of books about birds, insects, how to grow plants etc. We have the following books in our asset: British Birds, How to Grow Houseplants and Crafts From Nature. They read and use the books independently.

These days we don’t have a routine as such, since we have changed the course of action towards Unschooling approach. This happened almost naturally with the birth of Ibrahim followed by Saida. Our typical day looks like this: I have got to make them a breakfast in the mornings which takes me 30 mins up to an hour (We dont have cereals and almost daily have big breakfast cooked from scratch). They wake up around 7-7:30am, have a piece of fruit and off they go to play or read books. We all have breakfast between 9-10am. Then after breakfast we all read Qur’an. Thereafter they go off to play either in the garden or indoors. Some days we read 1-2 books after Qur’an and talk about the characters.

I have got to start cooking lunch, tidying the house, feeding and bathing the baby in between and tending to their 101 needs in the middle of all my jobs. So, I thank God for Unschooling and leave everything up to kids until they come and ask me to teach them something lol. By teaching I mean the scheduled hours of teaching how I used to do in the past: I used to make the girls sit down between 10am-12pm and go through Qur’an, Arabic, Maths, English and Science. Of course, not all subjects in one day but still they would be on the table either doing a planned activity or going through the worksheets/workbooks. Now we do Maths, English and Science in a structured way just once a week. As long as we keep up with Qur’an, both reading and hifdh, I am happy with what they are doing currently.

Every family’s circumstances are different and these circumstances are changing all the time. I don’t regret what I did back then, I thought it was the best education I could provide for them. If I tried to keep up with the same approach/routine/schedule now I know it would leave me frustrated all the time. I think it would make everyone unhappy as baby and Ibrahim would be interfering all the time. Other things like taking Ibrahim to the toilet, sitting Saida in the potty, fold and put away washed clothes, peeling an apple for one and cutting some cucumbers for another- are so time consuming and constant. So, I am happy with what I have got at the moment and grateful for the blessing of Unschooling. It almost seems like a natural thing for me as if this should happen with all the children.

Reading and memorizing Qur’an. Both the girls can read Qur’an now, mashaAllah. Sumayya is mainly maintaining hifdh of Juzz Amma. Her memorization is so slow and I dont have time to sit down with her more than 40mins a day- during which time we do 20 mins revision and 20 mins reading. She reads 5-6 ayahs from surah Baqarah daily and I just give feedback on her pronunciation by verbally correcting her and explaining the tajweed rules where possible. Safiyya can read the surahs she has memorized. We do wordsearch on surahs An-Nas-to-Ad-Duha. She can find the word I ask her within any surah she has memorized. She is currently memorizing surah Layl and Shams. She reads from Qaida as well. Ibrahim has memorized 5 surahs and knows a lot of odd verses from other surahs his sisters memorized.

English. They mainly read books and write their own things: sometimes an apology letter to me when they upset me, sometimes a letter to a friend, sometimes an entry in their diary, sometimes a to do list for the next day. We try to keep it as practical as possible. I don’t ask them to write any particular thing. Safiyya and Ibrahim do activities on Starfalls and Oxford Owl in both English and Math. Recently, we have been watching the stories here.

Maths/Science- I am researching buying a certain structured, fairly balanced and practical curriculum for next year. We might continue with MEPS for Maths, though quite a few sisters suggested Singapore Maths is better. We will see inshaAllah. If we decide to switch to Singapore Maths, I might as well combine it with Singapore Science. (If you want to buy the Singapore Maths in the UK, Ichthus Resources provide them at slightly cheaper price than the other supply companies)

Book Review.

I have recently ordered a number of new Islamic books for the kids. Here is the short review.

  1. The meaning of the Holy Qur’an for School Children– an absolute must have book by Yahiya Emerick for every household. This is the best children’s tafseer book I have come across. Previously, I thought Ad-Duha mini tafseer books were really good mashaAllah. But, this book offers a number of advantages: It is simple, easy to understand and yet provides all the background information, history and story behind every ayah revealed. It uses powerful, elegant and effective vocabulary throughout with simple lessons to take away from each verse. It has got little illustrations to make it more attractive and suitable for all children between the ages of 7-16 year old to read independently. You can read it out to the younger ones and discuss the meanings together. I often read it for my own self and found it so so beneficial mashaAllah.
  2. Teaching Kids The Holy Qur’an: Surah 18, The Cave– another excellent book to add to your library. It contains all 4 major stories from surah Kahf. Mezba Uddin Mahtab used lego bricks and other toys to recreate the stories in a very engaging detail. When I read about the author and read his book here, I absolutely fell in love. When we got the delivery, this was Sumayya’s first pick and she read through all 144 pages in a couple of hours.
  3. 1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts From Muslim Civilization– just an interesting fact book to inspire and empower your Muslim children if they like to explore or find out more about world famous inventions and facts.
  4. Travelling Man- The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford. I always loved history and my kids do too. This is beautifully illustrated and written about the greatest traveler in Muslim history. This is a short autobiography of Ibn Battuta and his adventures in Mecca, India and China, about the people he met and befriended, the sultans he worked under, the rebels he was caught by and his ultimate survival throughout his travels 1325-1354. We all found this very interesting and loved the illustrations.
  5. Arabic Through The Qur’an– by Alan Jones. I want to study this book myself and later teach to kids. Aside from being the very latest Arabic grammar written by an academic, one of the special features of the book is its exclusive use in its vocabulary of Qur’an rather than modern Arabic. The main purpose of our study of the Arabic language is so that we can read and understand the Qur’an in its original language. I have decided awhile ago that I will be learning at least 2 vocabulary from Qur’an a day and this book is perfect because it teaches both basic grammar as well as the Qur’anic vocabulary.

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

Geography and Science

Bismillah,

This is a short post to update children’s progress on Geography and Science. We are using workbooks from Evan-Moor for both and doing other supplementary activities of our own.

In Geography we have reviewed and finished the 1st chapter. We have learned (children are telling me)

  • Map is a drawing of a place from above
  • Map Key helps us to read the map because it tells us what symbols on map stand for
  • Map Grid is a square boxes that has letter and number. It helps us to easily locate/find the places on the map
  • Map Scale tells us the real distance between places on the map
  • Compass rose- is a compass to show us 4 main directions= North, South, East, West

Some of the practical things we did

  • We made a compass craft from paper and real one using the same idea here
  • We drew map of our bedroom
  • We drew map of our house and made a Map Key by drawing little picture for each room. Bed for bedroom, Cooking pot for kitchen, bath for bedroom, bookshelf for living room etc.
  • We measured the distance between London and Bradford on the map of UK and worked out how far the distance was between London and Bradford using map scale

We have moved on to learn more about Desserts and their Habitats. And they have some really good fun craft ideas which we are going to make inshaAllah

In Science, we have learned about The Sun

  • It is a star of hot gasses
  • It gives us light and heat
  • Animals, Plants and Humans need the sun to survive

Some of the practical activities we did

  • We have talked about the daylight and night change and read from the Qur’an surah Shams and surah Layl. We discussed that it is only by the Mercy of Allah swt that He brings daylight following the night and He makes dark again so people could rest.
  • They made the Sun puppet by painting painting the picture of sun, cutting out after it is dry and sticking the straw.

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We had visitors on Thursday for iftaar. There was no talk of puppet show and without planning or anything Sumayya decided to show us puppet show using her Sun puppet. She was asking the audience from behind the sofa if they knew any hadith of the prophet. And we all said, “You tell us one”. And she said “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty”. And other children joined and they were the Sun puppet was asking us questions about different prophets and they were telling us the story of the prophet Salih a.s and the camel.

  • We have observed how the plants grow yellow and eventually die if we block the sunlight. Use a piece of wood/plank and cover the grass in the garden. Have a look every day and it takes 3-4 days for grass to turn yellow

We have also learned about the Water in the Air in Science class.

  • There is water in the air that we can not see. It is called water vapor
  • When water vapor gets cold it turns into water drops
  • This process is called condensation

Practical activities

  • Experimented when ice cubes are put inside a glass water drops appear on the glass. Or when the weather is cold in the mornings water drops appear on windows even if it is not raining. Or the water drops on the grass in the mornings
  • Although it is not related to condensation, we have observed how wide open pine corns close in water. It took 20 mins for two acorns to close in water. When we put them out to dry, they start opening again, subhanAllah

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