Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goodbye for now!

We will be taking off to Toronto soon so this should be my last blog entry for a month and the comments will be moderated this month. I know I haven’t posted much lately but I promise when I get back I’ll have lots to write about. I’ve also been volunteered to be a Madressa teacher at the Islamic center next year so I will have that as well as our Connections Academy homeschooling to write about. Yes we got in!!! I’m so happy about that, thank you for all your prayers.

I hope you all have a great summer and remember to keep reading with your kids!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

She's finally five!!!


Okay so we had the big 5th birthday bash! It was not big at all, very small party for very close friends and it was so much fun. My now five year old said so many sweet things to me after the party that it almost brought me to tears. But first let me tell you more about the party.

As I mentioned before it was a Hello Kitty and Butterflies theme. Basically I had more things planned than were actually accomplished but the girls had a lot of fun jumping on the furniture and hula hooping on their own. When the guests first arrived I had a table full of crayons and beautiful hello kitty coloring pages I got from the website. There was a competition on who could color the nicest and I was the judge. At the end I liked everyone’s pages so everyone got hello kitty chocolate. We also played Pin the bow on Hello Kitty (which I didn’t get a very good picture of) and a hello kitty memory game. Then I put some temporary butterfly tattoos on the girls and they also got to have some butterfly and hello kitty stickers.

For refreshments I made this very yummy punch which everyone loved. It’s very economical to make and so easy too. Basically it was 1/2 cup of cherry kool-aid powder, 4 cups of water, 46 fluid ounce can of pineapple juice and a 2 liter bottle of ginger-ale. Mix it all together the night before (except for the ginger-ale) and put it in the fridge. Then on the day of the party pour it in the punch bowl and then dump in the ginger-ale. I also made an ice ring which I put in the punch bowl before pouring in the ginger-ale. I made the ice ring in a bundt baking pan with diluted pineapple juice and some pineapple rings and cherries or grapes. Freeze the ice ring the night before as well and it keeps the punch cold during the whole party. Very cool and delicious!

Then of course we had the standard junk food of cookies, chips and popcorn. We also had drumsticks and sandwiches and rice. Everyone enjoyed and loved the food, especially the yummy chocolate photo cake which we got from BJ’s.

The goody bags were enjoyed as well. We had all sorts of candy and accessories in them. The best were the shiny sunglasses which everyone wore for a group photo that turned out superb.

After the party in the evening my two year old was so exhausted she totally crashed and fell asleep mid-dinner. So the five year old and I were busy playing with her new toys (which turned out to be mostly Hello Kitty) after dinner and chatting it up. She was being so sweet, she kept saying what a wonderful party it was and saying, “Thank you mama for throwing me such a wonderful party, I had so much fun.” Then she kissed me and hugged me a lot. Then at one point I was asking her about her best friend who was at the party and if she had a lot of fun with her since she hadn’t seen her for a few weeks and I knew that she had missed her. I asked her as a joke if she was her favorite person at the party because they were inseparable and all of a sudden she said, “No Mama, you were my favorite person at the party and she hugged me again.” Let me tell you how difficult it was for me to hold back my tears. Even typing about it again right now is making my eyes water.

May Allah (swt) always keep her safe and happy!

Calvert pre-k curriculum review

My daughter really enjoyed the curriculum a lot. She loved all the arts and crafts and let me tell you that there were A LOT of arts and crafts. She also loved reading the short stories and poetry. One thing calvert did cover quite a lot though was the different holidays.

On Halloween we had to do many different arts and crafts for decorating the house. On Thanksgiving we actually talked about why we celebrate thanksgiving and learned more about the Native Americans and the settlers. There were many pictures to color and we had to talk about how they lived, etc… We also made lots of little thanksgiving crafts like a teepee and an Indian hat with the feather. Then on Christmas we had to discuss all about what Christmas is and we had to color Santa claus and make Christmas decorations, etc… The same thing for Valentines day as well. We had to talk about why we celebrate that and make valentines day cards and throw a party etc…

Now I say we had to do all these things because that is what the curriculum asked us to do with our children, but I of course picked and chose and skipped over a lot of the holiday stuff and replaced it with Islamic holiday stuff like Ramadhan decorations and Eid decorations and Hajj, etc…

This curriculum gave me many ideas and I used those ideas in my own ways. We learned about the seasons and gardens and how seeds grow and different kinds of weather and so many many things.

Around the end there was also reading and math: teaching the child phonics as much as they can handle at the pre-k age and counting up to ten. We also learned about pennies and nickels and dimes. My daughter was already past this level but she really enjoyed all the arts and crafts and learning about everything.

All in all, this curriculum is not really necessary if you already read with your preschooler and do arts and crafts with them. But, if you have the money to spend then it does save you A LOT of time. They also send you all the arts and crafts supplies and they have the best pencils, sharpeners and crayons ever!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Children's Choices!

Children's Choices is a great list of books that children themselves have recommended. This booklist recognizes popular books for 5 to 13 year olds and is divided by age and reading level. This is just one of the projects of the International Reading Association.

Last day of Pre-Kindergarten!

We have finally completed all of the lessons of the Calvert Pre-k curriculum. All in all, I enjoyed using the curriculum, even though it was incredibly easy and you don’t really need it if you are already reading with your child and doing arts and crafts. However, it did give me many ideas for different projects and also she just really enjoyed it. Basically by the end of the curriculum the child should be able to recognize some letters, know their address and phone number and be able to count to ten. Since we recently moved, she’s in the process of learning her new address. Everything else she has surpassed already.

After we completed the last lesson today, I gave her a little graduation certificate which I printed from “Kidcerts.com” and she went showing it off to everyone. She was very proud of herself.

Her reading is still going very strong and she can read just about anything. She still loves being read to and we read a few books during the day together and of course she always needs me to read her the bedtime story. She can count to 100, and she can also count by 10s to 100. All thanks to a 100 wall chart I received with Dr. Beechick’s books - The Three R's.

I’ve been working on getting her to memorize certain surahs. She’s memorized five surahs now, so we read those together every night so she doesn’t forget them. Last year she memorized Kalema and salawat and now she has recently memorized Naade-Ali. She loves reading Naade-Ali, especially when we go in the car anywhere.

I’m going to take a break from homeschooling her now, except for the reading and reciting surahs of course. It’s getting quite close to her birthday party and our trip to Toronto so things are getting a bit hectic. Alhamdollillah most of the preparations are done, just a few last minute details left.

Please remember us in your prayers!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Death by thunderstorm!

This is a rather amusing tale. This evening there was a major thunderstorm in Orlando, however I needed to go to the local Target to get some groceries. Anyhow, when I was leaving the girls said their goodbyes to me and then I left. Once I was gone my almost 5 year old stood by the door and looked out the window all upset. My husband asked her what was the matter and almost in tears she says to him, “I’m sad because Mama is going to die.” He was a bit shocked to hear this and asked her why she thought so and she said, “Everyone dies in thunderstorms.” He managed to put her at ease by telling her to recite a prayer to Allah (swt) to let Mama return safely.

Once I returned, before I could even finish parking the car she burst open the front door and there was a huge smile on her face while she yelled with such joy “Assalam alaykum Mama!”

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Websites for shia children

I wanted to share some wonderful muslim websites for shia children.

First is Maarifat Online Madressa which is a great website. Basically it is a free online Madressa that you register with. It starts at age 5 for children and they can move from lesson to lesson, however they need to complete the previous lessons before they can move onto others. That prevents them from jumping around and they are also able to go back and review any lessons they have already finished before. My almost 5 year old has already gone through the first three lessons and she is really enjoying it. It’s very interactive and colorful.

The next website is the Mujtaba Monthly Magazine site. They actually have a free newsletter that they will email you every month. It’s lots of fun for the little ones and educational too.

The Play & Learn website just has a massive amount of information and resources for children and also some fun and games that they will enjoy.

The DILP’s Kids Korner has always been a favorite as well with all the literature and of course the hundreds of clip art and images.

Madressa.net is another Madressa website that has their whole curriculum online for you to download and use. I actually have downloaded and printed the entire class notes for ages four and five and have been using it for the past 1.5 years on and off. She enjoys all the coloring and everything.

The reason I also cover Islamic studies at home with my almost 5 year old, even though she went to Madressa every Sunday this year, was because I was just not really satisfied with the curriculum they were using. I had actually started the above Madressa.net curriculum with her before she had even started going to Sunday school so I continued with it but not on a regular basis. Now inshallah starting next year her Sunday school is going to be using a new curriculum which I hear is much better. However I will of course keep up our Islamic studies along with the rest of the homeschooling curriculum at home as well.

I hope you enjoy the sites!