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Category Archives: Nature

Activities that promote learning while discovering nature.

Plant and be Rewarded – A child size sadaqah

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As this year’s Ramadan fell right into the children’s summer break. I wanted to take advantage of it to get them involved in some gardening and teach them not only about plants but also about what a great opportunity to do charity it would be. Giving sadaqah in the this blessed months brings great reward. However often sadaqah is equated to money or material things. Often a child is unable give these type of charity. Through this gardening activities I hope to teach my children that there are other ways of giving charity and planting is one of it.

We live in a climate where it is not wise to plant outdoors until after third week of May. Bearing this is mind we started planting seeds indoors in April! This proofed to be a challenge. Things grew and quickly died off as I could not transfer them outdoor and was not capable keeping them thriving and alive indoor. However, the boys were still eager to get their hands dirty.

School came to and end in June. The one weekend before Ramadan, we went to the garden centre and everyone got to pick something to plant and nurture. We embarked on our little gardening challenge for the season.

I love using picture books to teach, so to supplement this hands on learning with some good dosage of Islamic teaching I purchased this book.

AppleTree_Pagination_COVER_12Sept.inddThe story is about a little girl called Shaima that plants an apple seed with her dad. She is told about the great reward of planting a tree. When the tree bears fruit though, Shaima finds it hard to share it with anyone. She faces various incidents that persuades her to reluctantly share. Once she gives in, her reluctance is replaced with gladness and happiness. She finally realizes planting the seed and sharing its fruit is truly a means to earn the reward and pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.

(Just a caution, your child might point out that apple trees do not grow that fast. Divert their attention to the details of what happens next and how the main character deals with it.)

You can learn more about this books at Mariam Al-Kalby’s website A Pocket Full of Notes. The enchanting illustration that brings this book to life was done by a fellow Malaysian, Chan Yee Voon. More of her work is at http://www.chanyeevon.com.

This gardening project has been mainly for Ilyaas (7) and Zakariyya (5). Ibraheem (11), lets say is sort of out of commission as he has been fasting 18 hour days. He however has been helping with watering the grass and mowing our out-of-town friend’s lawn.

The first thing we planted was a miniature garden for the two boys. I got dollar store dish pans and drilled holes in them to use them as planters. In these tubs we planted succulents, miniature grass, touch-me-not plant, marigold and other plants that I do not know their names. The boys wanted their garden to be prehistoric one and added dinosaurs and pebbles to it.

Miniature GardenZakariyya’s (5) is on the left and is thriving. Ilyaas’ (7) is sort of struggling. Again, opportunity to remind that we can make the effort and it’s Allah’s decree if it will grow.

We also got various vegetable and flowering plants. All of it was planted into pots as I am more accustomed to container gardening. Of all the vegetables we planted, the lettuce was thriving Masha-Allah. Ilyaas (7) has become a salad maker for the family, a good deed activity this Ramadan. We have so much lettuce that we started sending them to our friends. Again referring to the hadith, the boys were pleased that this is a form of good deed too. A very special thanks to our friends who graciously accepted our lettuce.

Plants 2014

Besides the vegetables, we cleared the planter box we installed last year and planted strawberry plants. The two boys worked hard at this. During the process of preparing the box, the were thrilled to find worms! So we made a worm farm. This is our second year doing a worm farm. We just use an old beta fish aquarium for this. Zakariyya (5) can be seen busy fillling the tub with worms in the picture below.

Details of creating a worm farm can be found here. This is one of the most exciting things for the boys. Often checking on the tunnels that the worms make. We eventually released the worms back into the planter box.

GardeningWe also had a chance to plant a couple of rasberry bushes. The probably will not fruit this season. I hope they will live to see next season, Insha-Allah.

Overall the two boys have been busy watering, weeding, picking out dead flowers and leafs and harvesting their hard work. We get bees that come to the flowers, birds we haven’t seen and hares have so far not eaten anything. Many people have eaten from our plants though. The greatest pleasure is in seeing the boys enjoying and taking pride in their work. I keep reminding them that these are all good deeds that we do to seek Allah’s pleasure and hope for his reward.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Nature, Ramadan

 

Nature Study – Courtesy of Umm Tafari

Umm Tafari of River City Homeschoolers recently posted on revisiting nature study with her children. It’s when I read her post that I remembered that we used her Nature Study unit as a guide late last summer and did many of the activities that she had suggested. Subhanallah we immensely benefitted from all of the activities that we managed to do.

Insha-Allah, I am posting a few activities we did that relates back to Umm Tafari’s nature study unit (week, day and title cited) with the hope that others will try their hands at it. Warm weather is just around the corner, it will Insha-Allah be both fun and a wonderful way to appreciate Allah’s many creations.

WEEK 1 – DAY THREE – Tree Rubbing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did this activity at a local park. Most of the trees had really rough bark. Only one was suitable for rubbing. As Ilyaas was doing this, it attracted other children to join in as well 🙂

I made some of these circle crayons just for this activity. It made it so much easier for the little ones to hold and do the bark rubbing.

To add interest to this activity for Ibraheem and his friend who came along, we did a tree measuring activity. We found this activity on Nature Detective labeled as Tree Giants. It proved to be fun for the boys as the competed with each other to find and even taller tree in the park.

 

WEEK 4 – DAY ONE – Seeds

We did these observation while on our road trip during summer. We were not able to do the actual seed hunt using socks as suggested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We explained to the children how seeds can actually be within different parts of the plant; the fruit (berry), the leaf, the pod or the flower. We also explained how agents like animals, wind and rain water can then transfer these seeds to a new location.

I must say that the spores on the fern were the most intriguing one for the children.

Our planting seed activity can be found here.

We also did many of the leaf related activities well into fall. Insha-Allah I am hoping to do the bird themed activities this year.

May Allah reward Umm Tafari for putting together this study unit.

 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Nature

 

Spring colours in snow

Alhamdulillah we were blessed with 15 cm of snow couple of days ago. Rather than sulk about it, I embraced it, with the help of some food colouring.

Food colouring in spray bottles.

Our neighbour's tree getting a makeover.

 

Snow angel.

Alhamdulillah, thanks to chinook winds the snow is melting away as fast as it had piled up.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Nature

 

Seed art

To continue our activity of planting seeds I wanted the children to create some artwork using seeds.

Material for the activity

I just picked out some seeds I had in the pantry for this activity. The idea was to glue the seeds on to the paper plates. I used a line patterned paper plate for my four year old to practice squeezing glue onto small areas before dropping the seeds on.

This activity turned out being more of a sensory activity than art for the children. Touching and feeling the different size and coloured seeds, squeezing blobs of glue onto the paper plate and playing in a gooey mixture of seeds! It was all fun Alhamdulillah. We did this on the deck, so clean was also easy for me.

Our seed pie artwork!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Art & Craft, Nature

 

Planting seeds

For this activity we used the Nature Study document prepared by Umm Tafari as a guideline. Seeds are the theme of Day 1, Week Four (Plants)

This book was a great start off point on learning about plant growth. It was a little late into the season for us to do planting. I still went ahead and got some fast yielding lettuce seeds and sunflower seeds just to get the children to experience the different stages of plant growth.

Verily! It is Allah Who causes the seed-grain and the fruit-stone (like date-stone) to split and sprout. He brings forth the living from the dead, and it is He Who brings forth the dead from the living. Such is Allah, then how are you deluded away from the truth? 

Surah Al-An’am, Verse 95

The above Quranic verse is the foundation of this activity. It is Allah who causes a mere seed to sprout into a plant. Allah is Al-Muhyi the giver of life.

Planting lettuce seeds.

We used eggshells to plant the seeds just as in the book so the children could relate to the activity. However I did not number and pull out the seedlings to observe growth as per the book. Lettuce seeds are too tiny for that.

Growth on day 3

Growth of day 7. Some of the eggshells had no sprouts at all.

Our sunflower seed sprouting Masha-Allah

Our little gardeners have been doting over the eggshells a little too much.  I am hoping the plants will make it.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Nature

 

Twig weaving

There was still plenty of weeping birch twigs lying around. And I thought it’ll make a good weaving material. And really I was inspired by the beautiful weaved baskets in my home country and more motivated by the stickwork sculpture picture posted by Umm Tafari here.

I had this somewhat sun-shaped cardboard that I has saved from some pot and pans packaging. I felt that this would provide a good base to weave the twigs around to form a basket.

Twigs and cardboard base

We started weaving. DS1 figured that he needed to weave the twigs in and out of the flaps. What was challenging about doing this was that the twigs just would not stay in place.

Weaving in progress

Side view of the basket

By now I had a really sad boy. His weaving was not yielding a basket.

Allah provides hope in times of despair Subhanallah. A ball of T-shirt yarn on the fridge!

T-shirt yarn is basically old T-shirts cut into about 1 inch continuous strip. They make very good ties around the house.

Weaving using T-shirt yarn

We used the same cardboard as a base. This time it was way easier as the material was easy to handle and it was a continuous string as oppose to bits of twig.

Also notice that the cardboard base had eight flaps. This is an even number of flaps that when you weave around would produce a pattern that will not hold up the flaps into a basket shape. Alhamdulliah DS1 figured that he needed to just make a loop at the starting flap to skip a flap and continue weaving.

He also figured that based on the tension of the yarn, he can control how wide the basket opened up. He decided to make it really tight. Reason, when he was done it could be flipped and worn as a Turkish tarboosh!

We started weaving twigs hoping to produce a basket. We ended up with a very happy boy wearing a T-shirt yarn tarboosh, Alhamdulillah.

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Art & Craft, Nature

 

Twig painting

We had a storm sweep through our city. The aftermath of the strong winds were a lot of twigs of the weeping birch trees scattered in our backyard.

Perfect material for some painting. Tape down large piece of paper. Put blobs of paint. Tie twigs into small bundle. And let the little artist work their magic.

Painting with twigs

Twig painting

Insha-Allah I am saving this for a wrapping paper.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Art & Craft, Nature