Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas and Jesus in Islam

Sister Masooma has summed up very nicely what Christmas and Jesus mean to Muslims in her Otowi blog, take a look:

Merry Christmas - Christmas and Jesus (as) in Islam

Toys that teach

I realized a long time ago that my children were learning more from regular books and simple toys like: puzzles, blocks, lego, play-doh and the most important: interaction with their parents. All the electronic toys on their shelves just collected dust and didn't really keep their attention very long. Now I just recently read this article and it made a lot of sense to me so I thought I'd share it with others:

Toys that Teach: Which toys are the most educational? Hint: They probably don't talk

Saturday, December 24, 2005

You Can Pick Your Doctor, and You Can Pick Your Nose…

This was the grossest thing I've read in a long time. Is this doctor for real? I finally got my four year old to kick the habit, there's no way I'm going to tell her to start up again. aaahhhhh, too gross.

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=271

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas shoppers and more...

I don't celebrate christmas myself but I love going to the mall just to watch all the people hustling and bustling around. I admit, I'm a bit of a people watcher. I love going to the mall more for that than shopping. Our local mall here has a place right in the middle of the food court for children to play and run around in. I usually take the girls there and let them play with the other children while I watch all of the people interacting with their friends and family. I wonder what they are worried about, or fighting about. What their relationship is, if any at all. The best time for this is Christmas because there are so many people, by themselves and in groups. You see a lot of people that look very stressed and rushed. And then there are those that are with their kids and are usually a little frazzled. My favorites are the ones that really get into the christmas spirit and are all dressed up and happy and walking around wishing everyone a merry christmas or happy holidays.

I've been a bit busy with the girls myself. We've been making decorations for New Years and also putting are snowflakes up. My FIL (the girls' grandfather) has been visiting Pakistan and is returning on New Year's Eve and my four year old has been counting down the days on her calendar because she misses him so much. She wants to go all out on the decorations when he returns and wants to make him some special treats. Of course her first question to him is going to be, "What did you bring me?" :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Paper Snowflakes



Since we never get any snow in Orlando we decided to make our own paper snowflakes! These were made with templates downloaded from Dave's snowflake page. Another good website for this is Papersnowflakes.com

Ramadhan (blessings) Tree



This is a picture of the blessings tree I did with my four year old during the month of Ramadhan. This idea was taken from Yemenlinks.com. The basic idea was to add one leaf every day of the month with a blessing from Allah (swt) written on it. At the end of the month we had thirty leaves and a very beautiful tree in the corner of her room. We used brown kraft paper for the trunk and construction paper for the leaves.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Reading lists

The most important thing that you can do for your children's education is constantly read to them. Just twenty minutes a day is all it takes to show your children how important books are for us. Here is a list of websites that have some excellent reading lists for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers.

Summer Reading List by EducationWorld.com
Reading List for babies and up by Joan Carris (excellent website!)
Kids Reading List: Oprah's Book Club
Grade Level Reading Lists
Classics and New Favs reading list by Kidsreads.com
Recommended Reading Lists for All Ages by FamilyEducation.com

Here are some links of interest that will be helpful in motivating children to read.

Book Adventure is a FREE reading motivation program for children in grades K-8.
Choosing a Children's Book by the Children's Book Council

Below are two links I forgot to add before:
Starfall.com (Thanks Leila!) :)
StudyDog The basic version of this software is free and my preschooler loves it! She will sit there and play with it for an hour and it has also helped her improve her reading skills a lot!


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go - Dr Seuss

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Informative sites for muslim homeschoolers

Here are some islamic websites I use for my girls:
Yemen Links (Arabic Resources section)
Play and Learn
Little Mumins
Muslim Kids
Islamic Homeschooling

Islamic Curriculum:
Kinza Academy
Ad-Duha Institute
Madressa.net

Muslim homeschooling email groups:
Education for Muslim Children
Muslims and home education
Arabic learning materials

I have gotten some really excellent materials and ideas from some of the above sites, especially yemenlinks.com I have taken some pictures of some of the projects I have done with my girls and I will share them in some of my later posts, Inshallah.

Personality of a toddler

My two year old has the worst mood swings I've ever seen. First of all, if her tummy is empty even a bit watch out for major temper tantrums and fussiness. Then if she does not want to be spoken to at any time then no one should even look in her direction because they will get a bad look and low grunt, it's actually kind of cute. And on top of that she is the most antisocial kid I've ever seen. The only child she will play with is her own sister and every other child she gives dirty looks to, especially if they are playing with her sister. Adults never get her attention unless she knows them and are family. She is not shy at all, she just does not like other people.

When she does totally lose her temper the first thing she usually does is fall to the floor and start kicking and screaming. However when she also wants to make someone else mad (like me or her sister) then she'll run to the room and start throwing all the books and toys off the shelf.

All her antics however amuse me more than anything. I know it's bad but I usually get a laugh out of them because here's this little two year old who is barely three feet tall and is full of so much attitude, it's just too funny.

The funnier thing is that when she is actually in a good mood: when she's fed and slept well and no one is bothering her, then she is the most loving and affectionate child. She will hug you and kiss you constantly and play with you so much. I love her laugh, it just echos through the whole house.

Children really are such a blessing from Allah (swt).

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Scrabble

What is is about this game that everyone loves? It is absolutely one of my favorites, other than checkers of course. We were all playing tonight and my four year old teamed up with her uncle and he was amazed at all the words she was suggesting for them to spell. What four year old knows how to spell liquid?

I got her a bunch of board games and decided to do family game night every Friday night. However slowly ever night is turning into family game night. She just can't get enough of them. This was the first time we played scrabble with her involved (I was a little tired of Candyland and all the Dora games) and I was surprised to see how active she really was. But she told me that Sequence for Kidsis still her favorite game. :)

For the muslims out there, this game is also very good for the kids. She likes it a lot but still is a bit young for it to get all the answers. However it's great for kids that are a bit older:
Junior Quran Challenge This one is age 5-10.
Quran Challenge Game This one is age 8-adult.

If any of you know other good board games for her age, please let me know! Thanks. :)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Not my first blog

This is not my first attempt at keeping a blog. I had one before but due to personal reasons I had to discontinue it. I was going through a lot back then and I really just don't get the time to sit at my computer that much anymore. Therefore you will notice that sometimes it will be days before I post much and then one day there will be ten new entries.

I will try my best to keep this blog alive because one of the main reasons I'm starting it is so I have a record of everything I am doing to educate my girls. I'm going to try and post reading lists and curriculum reviews and all sorts of other junk that might be important to someone else.

Wish me luck!

My intro

Now that I've written how I started on this journey, I figure I should introduce myself and family. I'm Anila, muslim mother of two daughters in Orlando. My oldest is 4.5 years old and my youngest is 2.5 years old. I was born in Pakistan, grew up in Canada and now I reside in the States with my husband and family. Homeschooling is something my husband and I both agree on and so far we feel we have definitely made the right decision. My plan is to homeschool both my daughters for as long as I can, Inshallah (if God is willing).

So far I have been homeschooling for a little over 6 months and I have already seen a change in my eldest. She is so much more confident now and even more social. Last year when she was in preschool, she was quite antisocial and had a tough time relating to other children. Now she introduces herself to every child we see anywhere. She does go to islamic school one day of the week on sundays. She absolutely loves her teacher there and her best friend is in her class. It's amazing to see how much she has changed in just this past year.

My youngest is also starting to learn. She knows her colors and her shapes and is quite talkative for a 2 year old. It's very sweet to watch them play together, especially now that she has started communicating more. I know she loves being able to spend the whole day with her mother and sister playing and reading and just hanging out.

I pray Allah(swt) gives me the patience and motivation to continue on this journey.

Starting the homeschooling journey...

Ever since my first daughter was born it was always in the back of my mind to homeschool. But I didn't think much of it and pushed it aside assuming that I lacked all ability to do so. What I did notice about her was she was very good at understanding and remembering things from a very young age. Since she was about 18 months, if I told her something once then that was it, she had it down. Like all mothers that want to do well for their children I enrolled her in a private preschool when she turned 3 years of age. Not only did she not learn anything, her personality completely changed. She went from a shy, sweet little girl to a crying, whining thing with some attitude that she picked up from some of her "friends." Then about a year ago in January 2005, when she was 3.5 years old, I finally decided that I was going to homeschool her. I let her complete her year at the preschool but, with a lot of encourangement from my husband and other homeschooling moms that I knew, I started to teach her how to read. We started a book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessonsaround March 2005. At that time she only recognized a few letters but she did know the alphabet song. We completed the book at the end of May 2005 and she was reading at 2nd grade level. On June 24, 2005 she was reading all "I can read books" that were designed for second graders. In August of 2005 I purchased Calvert's pre-k curriculum, even though she was already way ahead in reading. I figured that she was only 4 and she would enjoy all the arts and crafts, which she does. She begs me to homeschool her everyday and most of the time we do at least 2 lessons because she just doesn't want to stop.

To work on her reading we go to the library every Thursday for storytime and then we check out a whole bunch of books. Now after 6 months her reading has improvied incredibly, and she is only 4.5 years old. She can read just about anything, from the newspaper to my Jane Austen novels.

The one problem I have with her is that she has the ability to read, but she doesn't understand most of the things that she is able to read. We stick with books that are from about 2nd grade to 4th grade level. If we go beyond that it just doesn't interest her anymore because she doesn't comprehend it.

That's pretty much where our homeschooling journey has taken us so far. I will continue to add to this as I continue my efforts to educate her.