Ramadan Battle

Bismillah,

What have we been up to since the 15th April 2014? Well, a lot, really. But, first of all, let me wish all of you a Happy Belated Ramadan Kareem!!! May Allah enable us all to really change and improve ourselves for the better this Ramadan amin.

Home-educating is going well. We do almost nothing structured with regards to academic subject on a day-to-day basis. Both big and little S attend Maths, English and Science classes once a week at Raising Explorers (where I work) and they go to madrassah there Tues-Fri afternoons 4:30-6:30pm. So, what do we do at home?

Gardening

We have done a lot of gardening this Spring/Summer 2014. We have planted strawberry plants early in Spring and they were all growing so well. They all had 5-6 fruits each but the slugs started eating the leaves. My neighbor suggested I put some salt on all plants which had a disastrous ending, the fruits and leaves dried up. They have all grown out by now but  no homegrown strawberries for us this year. InshaAllah, I am hoping the plants would double by next year and we will have some fruits.

We have also planted an apple tree and a pear tree. They both blossomed well but we have got no pears for this year. Alhamdulillah, we have plenty of apples and we can not wait to bake an apple pie with those.

Pear tree

Apple tree

Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants

Trips and Outings

We have been going on a lot more trips lately since the arrival of my parents. We want to show them around as much as possible. We have been to quite a lot of local parks, including:

Roberts park in Saltaire; Roundhay Park in Leeds, Chellow Dene Reservoir, Ogden Waters, and of course our local Lister park. I have made a list of few other free places to go after Ramadan inshaAllah: St. Ives Park in Bingley, Shibden Park in Halifax, Stockeld Park, Cliffe Castle in Keighley, Bolling Hall, Bolton Abbey and Manor House. I am trying to make use of all free museums, galleries and parks as the costs can easily add up when multiplied x8 in the family lol. We may take them all to Yorkshire Wildlife centre for Eid

My mummy at Chellow Dene

Arabic and Qur’an

We have not been doing much Arabic language at home except what she learns at Raising Explorers. We revise the surahs of the Juzz Amma they have memorized and Sumayya reads half a page of Qur’an daily. Safiyya has just started reading too, mashaAllah but no pressure. She reads when she wants to. Having attened Tajweed classes recently, I have just started explaining the Tajweed rules to big S recently. Up until now, she has learnt how to read by listening only and kind of figured out most rules (without knowing the names such as Idghaam, Izhaar, Iqlaab etc). 1-2 daily they pray with me, again no pressure, hence not very regular. As big S turned 7 this year, I should be encouraging her more inshaAllah.

Russian progress

Alhamdulillah, big S  has been going to Russian 3 times a week. She goes to Russian class organized for the children of local Russian families on Monday afternoons. Then WEd/Fri mornings she goes to her tutor’s house for 2 hours. She can now read, write and speak a little bit of Russian. She can talk about most topics including her family, likes/dislikes, animals, fruit/veg, about her house, about her grandparents and weather etc. They do little bit of grammar but mainly conversational Russian as I want her to be able to speak and understand first. She has learnt so much vocab and can use them well. Alhamdulillah. There is also a farm next to her tutor’s house. So, we have been going 1-2 times a week to feed the horses, see llamas, donkeys and a pony.

Kids trying to feed horses

Islamic Studies and Self-Evaluation

All of us have to work on our manners, especially myself as I have to model the exemplary behavior for them. This thought has been troubling me so much lately. My confession yesterday was “I have always known that children learn by example. They are the best imitators, regardless of weather you do a good thing or a bad thing, they will try and copy the adults around them. Seems like I have known it theoretically up until this point. So, I have recently discovered that before fixing everyone else around me, especially my poor kids, I should first fix myself. As an adult and as a mother of 4 home-educated kids I see some major flaws in my own character. I can lecture my children about what is good and right thing to do but the children mirror and project my own faults which is scary. I am almost always battling with my own self and questioning “am I doing the right thing/wrong thing” and worry a lot about my children’s character too. But, like I said, I came to the conclusion that as long as I work hard to try and fix my own problems, inshaAllah Allah will take care of my children and how they are going to turn out as a person. The battle with the self continues….May Allah give all mothers out there an immense amount of patience and make parenting easy for us and give us a good ending. Amin ya Rabb!!!

I don’t know why I feel so burdened, so pressured these days with mothering duties and responsibilities…I have terrible mood swings at times and end up feeling so guilty for having shouted at kids…I am always asking for more patience in my duas as I am quick to criticize my kids. How do you deal with your inner critique that sets up the standards so high for your kids? I am finding it so hard to just let it go. Alhamdulillah, slowly but surely I am working more on myself rather than kids and feel moving in the right direction. I am praying to have a better week ahead inshaAllah: less yelling, less shouting, less correcting, less critique; more encouragement, more peaceful, more connecting and more praise.

General Home-Ed Review

Alhamdulillah, I am happy where we are at. Like I said, at this point in life we are focusing much more on character-building rather than in any form of structured academic lessons. Above all, I would want myself and my children have a good personality. I just want to be good inshaAllah…

Once again Ramadan Mubarak my dear sisters and wishing you all to have the best Ramadan yet!!!

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.

Play

Bismillah,

Enjoying a quiet afternoon all by myself I thought I might as well post. Alhamdulillah, it has been nice outside today. Husband took big S and little I swimming. Little S has not been feeling well the past 2-3 days with on-off temperature and cough. So she had to stay behind. After a little bit of cry she quickly fell asleep on the sofa.

We have generally enjoyed quite a few sunny days over the past two weeks. As such, children have been spending a great deal of time outside, playing, planting, digging, cycling, watering flowers, collecting bugs and getting up to all sort of messy things.

One big news since I last posted is that big S has taught herself how to cycle on big bicycle. She had really old bike which her dad got her in car boot last year. She was riding it so much and poor thing broke. We got her a new bike 2 weeks ago. MashaAllah, we have been going to Lister park 2-3 times a week to cycle. Usually kids cycle and I just go for long walks. Now it is time we buy a new bike for little S as she still uses her old toddler bike. She grew out of it ages ago…. needs to pass it on to little I.

Hifdh. Alhamdulillah we have hifdh revision session nearly every day. I use the Qur’an tracker charts for both girls. When they feel demotivated, we talk and discuss how Allah elevates their status in the HereAfter with each new surah they learn. Sometimes we read the English/Uzbek translation. Alhamdulillah, it helps.

Arabic. Mainly revising what we have learnt before. We still focus on topic-based vocabulary. Use Arabic HandWriting Book and worksheets for handwriting, Madinah Arabic Book 1 for vocab and grammar.

Islamic Studies. Reading lots of Islamic story books, prophets’ stories, seerah stories and have a follow-up discussion. I try to develop their oral expression; they can answer the questions, explain the Islamic concepts learned, illustrate the Islamic concepts learned with real-life examples from their own daily life and experience. We pray together once a day; usually asr prayer these days. Review how to make wudu, what to say when dua cards, a box of manners cards 2-3 times a week. MashaAllah they always remember their duas when entering/leaving bathroom, entering/leaving the house, before/after a meal, going up/coming down the stairs etc. They often remind us and have taught little I a number of duas. For example, he always says “Allahu Akbar” going up the stairs and “SubhanAllah” coming down the stairs.

Maths. Big S is finishing her Maths workbook. She still struggles with some problem solving and mental maths concepts presented towards the end of MEP Year 1. These are mainly working with calendar, clock/timings, speed and measuring different things etc. Little S is doing MEP Year 1 too and currently finished working on operations up to number 9. She is really good in Maths and I generally do not push her as much as I used to do her elder sister. Sometimes she does a page, sometimes 2 pages and sometimes refuses to do maths. So, we just revise and review old maths concepts like shapes, colours, numbers up to 20, repeating patterns, counting by 2’s.

English. As usual, we all spend a great deal of time reading books. We go to the library every Saturday morning. Children take part in story time followed by an activity. We take out between 20-30 books each week (took out 20 books yesterday). Little S’s reading improved but I can see she is not a bookworm like her sister. She enjoys being read to but doesn’t read more than one book at a time by herself.

Her sister, on the other hand, refuses to do anything until she finishes all 20 books in one go. I had to ask her 10+ times to have her lunch and then keep reminding 20+ times to put all the books away whilst eating. I remember my mum used to get annoyed when one of us kids sat down for dinner with a book in our hands. She would get so angry if we kept reading whilst eating….And I used to think “what is it to you mom, as far as I have my dinner, with or without a book, what difference does it make to you” etc. But, honestly, I find it so annoying as a mother now. Every time I see big S with a book on dinner table, I am like “Go now and do not come back until you put that book away”. I must be ageing….

Chapter Books. Big S enjoyed reading the following chapter books last week.

“Puppy Gets Stuck” by Sue Mongredien

“Little Lost Hedgehog” by Jill Hucklesby

Writing. Following Ch. Mason’s narration method, we do not use any “Learn How to Write” workbooks or programs for composition, spelling and general writing. Alhamdulillah, their writing skill is developing naturally. Their typical daily writing activities include:

  • Writing letters to their friends, to me, to grandma, to grandparents back home
  • Shopping lists
  • Writing captions for the pictures they have drawn by themselves
  • Writing short stories by themselves
  • Rewriting the stories they have read

Little I is always copying his sisters. He tries to write and draw. When it comes to reading, he is just like big S. He can sit down and read books for hours. He is always after me, dad and grandma trying to get one of us sit down and read for him. We were watching a really interesting documentary about African Cats with kids yesterday afternoon. He quickly got bored, even though it was so interesting and made for children by Disney Channel. But, he absolutely loves books and does not seem to get bored with books. He is good at narrating and retelling the events too. He talks so well in full sentences, alhamdulillah. He has learnt some English phrases thanks to my neighbours and often uses them when we have visitors. He likes playing with legos, foam and wooden building blocks and his animal collection.

If anything we have been doing most lately, it is The Play. Like I said, due to nice weather outside, they have been playing so much. Our daily homeschool session does not last more than an hour. I try to vary the subjects and types of activities we do daily. But, I have just realized recently how much a child can learn by playing, by using her own initiative and imagination, by exploring things on her own. I often wonder why I used to worry so much about big S when we first initially started. All those concerns seem to have faded away and I am becoming less and less reluctant to send her to school even when she is older. I pray when the time comes, Allah will guide and help us to make the right decision. But for now, we are all happy with the progress and learning at home.

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.

Summer at last!!!

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah we have been thoroughly enjoying fine summery weather for the past week. It is so hot and we have been so busy trying to make most out of this weather. I let the kids spend a great deal of time out in the garden. Here is the list of things we do in the garden

1. Qur’an hifdh
2. Painting
3. Collecting different types of leaves and see who has the most diverse collection
4. Collecting twigs, grass, wild flowers and think of a quick arts/crafts project to do
5. Read books on the trampoline
6. Enjoy ice lollies, milk lollies and homemade juice/smoothies on the benches
7. Have circle time and picnic
8. Praying asr salah together out in the garden
9.  Lie down and observe the sky and different shapes of clouds
10. Water fight with garden hose

We do baking a couple of times a week as usual, mostly we bake traditional uzbek somsa and bread.

Last week we did lots of arts/crafts. We planted some flowers in big flower pots and have been learning more about flowers. We learned that flowers need sunshine and water to grow, their growing cycle (from seed to flower and back to seed etc) and we have labelled all the flower parts as well. This is the 1st flower they made. It was very easy and fun. Let kids draw 4 outlines of their own hands, draw the nails for petals and get children to number the nails/petals (to practice numbers Sumayya wrote numbers 0-20 and Safiyya 0-10), arrange and stick in flowery position, cut out a circle from construction paper for the middle part (they can write their own names in the middle), used pipe cleaner as a stem and tissue paper as a leaf.

The second flower was to learn the flowers’ living cycle and flower parts. 1. Ask a child to draw outline of a flower on hard stock paper. I drew one on board and they copied. 2. Cut out a circle for the middle, we used a construction paper. 3. Cut out a stem and leaf from construction paper or any harder coloured paper. 4. Use folded tissue papers to fill in the petals. 5. Ask a child to write a sentence about flowers. 6. Label the flower parts (flower, petals, stem, leaf, root) and ask children to write or copy the words in the correct places.

We have also included small folding book on one corner of the paper. I used 1/4 of A4 paper folded in 4. They got to design and decorate the cover as you can see above. When it is opened I asked children to draw a picture of seeds on 1st page and write the word Seed, draw picture of root on 2nd page and write the word. And When it is opened fully draw the picture of a flower, write the word and colour in (1st it opens horizontally and 2nd vertically and so it is taller on last opening)

Safiyya’s flower

Arabic. We read Arabic story books, review the vocab, watch the prophets’ stories in Arabic and practice handwriting daily. Alhamdulillah it has been going well.

Sumayya’s writing

Safiyya’s writing

Reading and handwriting. Sumayya has been enjoying plenty of chapter books. She has been reading one of the Geronimo Stilton series. She finds the language a bit hard to understand, it is full of humour and witty language. Something good for a change but I wouldn’t spend money on such a book lol. Usually I just use Charlotte Mason’s narration method for reading comprehension. I wanted to see how Sumayya does the worksheets on reading comprehension and printed some pages from Have Fun Teaching’s Grade 1 level. She found them all much too easy and I was once again convinced that continuously using worksheets is boring and doesnt actually put child’s mind in touch with ideas presented in text. If child is asked to narrate, however, she will have to use her own imagination and understanding capability and extract which bits of the story she remembers most etc. It gives us parents a clue on their use of words, imagination, ideas and what interests them most etc.

I found nice handwriting and spelling curriculum recently (the link is given in useful websites page). But I didnt have time to print and organize all the materials yet. We have been using this Reading and Copywork a sister compiled some time ago. I downloaded it from homeschool forum and using it just now with Sumayya.

There are hadiths and verses from the Qur’an, as well as nice short stories to read and reflect. After reading child is asked to copywrite 1-2 sentences from the story. Sumayya loves this book, alhamdulillah

We discussed the above hadith with Sumayya after she read it. It left her thinking deep, then she wrote You will be with the one you love. I love Allah and His Messenger. 

This one was a verse from the Qur’an “Verily the promise of Allah is true”. Then she wrote a letter to her dad underneath that says “I love my daddy. He reads Arabic books to me. He buys me an ice cream. He takes me to the park. I *love sign* dady”. I was meant to send this to Father of the month competition over at Abi Homeschools too, but never got around it subhanAllah.

Safiyya has been doing lots of phonics activities. Like I said, she is a bit lazy to read, finds it a bit hard to concentrate and join the phonics. But she is too quick to do phonics related activities. Maybe I should try flashcards with her again inshaAllah.

Matching words that start with the same letter sounds

Identify and circle the beginning sound of each word

Practice handwriting and numbers.

Numeracy. We try to reinforce the concepts presented in MEP Year 1 with lots of easy but fun activities with Sumayya. For example we play one less/one more; two less/two more game. First, I shout out 5 numbers. She has to write down in silent what number is one more than each of those I shouted out, and what number is one less than each of those. So, if I shout out the numbers 9, 45, 87, 79, 18 She would have to write down one less numbers: 8, 44, 86, 78, 17. Then she would have to write down one more numbers: 10, 46, 88, 80, 19. Then I shout out another 5 numbers but this time she would have to write down 2 more and 2 less numbers than those I shout out. I check at the end and count how many ticks she collects. Write down Excellent if no mistakes. Simple but fun and easy. We play this game using numbers 0-100 and Alhamdulillah she does so well. Planning to do 3 more/3 less and 5 more/5 less games next week inshaAllah.

We do some worksheets with Safiyya. We review her numbers 0-20, both recognition and handwriting. Alhamdulillah she does well. We do lots of counting activities with her, keep reinforcing shapes and colors too. She has learned shapes, colours, numbers in Arabic too.

Apart from those we have been trying to spend more time outdoor. Last week we went to City Park to enjoy the fountains, to Lister Park to enjoy the playground and we went for a walk to Chellow Dene Reservoir, pictured below.

We also enjoyed having my friend Vanessa over from Scotland for 2 days. It was so nice to see both girls spending good time with their aunty and bonding well. Alhamdulillah.

Outdoors and feeding birds

Bismillah,

Staying true to my plans, I took them to Lister Park 3 times last week. Each time we spent around 2 hours walking, bug-hunting, climbing trees, observing flowers, collecting acorns and leaves for Sumayya’s nature projects and finally, of course, playing in the playground. Alhamdulillah we live so close to this awesome park. One day I even took them to the Cartwright Hall Gallery- there was a gallery about 19th century English countryside with collection of people’s clothes, household items such as washboard, iron, rocking chair etc, and the exhibition of countryside pictures by some artists. It was really good and so interesting. I always loved history and especially like and try to learn more about the Victorian England. So, it was really interesting. They even made little displays of little towns such as Idle (not far from us) which used to be proper countryside back then.

Anyway, kids all love being outdoors, regardless of the weather. Sumayya can easily walk for a few hours without ever complaining. She likes climbing and is so confident in all her physical activities. She even jumped from the top of the tree once- which nearly gave me a heart attack lol. MashaAllah, she is so good. Safiyya, on the other hand, not very creative outside. She doesn’t have ideas about what to do and what to collect and what to make in nature. She is very creative inside, always cutting and glueing or even socially she is not reserved like her elder sister. She likes making conversations with people. But, I think we havent tried enough to develop her physically. She doesnt like climbing because she is always scared. She walks long hours with breaks in between. She often likes holding my hand and walk together instead of going off to explore things independently. I have to push her to get to the top of swing etc. Anyway, a friend offered to have Sumayya on Thursdays to teach her Maths and I think we are going to spend more one-one time with Safiyya to get on with her reading and gymnastics inshaAllah.

Apart from that, we have been exploring things in our garden. I mentioned before that Sumayya is so crazy about birds. She loves them so much, she always watches them from the kitchen window. As we have lots of different kinds of trees in the garden and the kitchen being high, we can easily see their nests and when we sit down for breakfast we all watch birds flying in and out of their nests. And Sumayya keeps making assumptions and stories about bird families. “I think this one is a mommy bird”, “She has just gone out for water”, “I think they are looking for a worm but cant find one and that’s why twittering very loud” etc.

So, today we went out to feed the birds in our garden. There were 4 bird feeding stations in our garden. I thought there were only two initially and I led kids to the 1st I knew. But then Sumayya found two other feeder stations- obviously kids have been spending a lot more time in the garden lol. Anyway, we didn’t have proper bird food but we had old breads. Kids made bread crumbs from old bread and we filled up the bird feeders. Alhamdulillah, they really enjoyed it. Sumayya kept saying “We are being kind to our birds and they will say JazakAllah khayr to us. But we dont understand their language. Only Allah and Sulayman alayhissalam know what they are saying”. She really wanted to hold a bird in her hand- this is her one time dream. Even when she was a lot younger she wanted to hold birds, feed them by hands etc. So, she was waiting for ages to see if birds will come down and land on her hand. But they don’t obviously, subhanAllah she was a little sad about it.

And we have a dish where our birds drink water from.