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

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.




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.


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.



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.


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


Spring Signs – Jackrabbits/Hare

Today the children were very excited to see our resident bunny, Mr. Arnab, sitting in his usual spot, basking in the sun. They immediately noticed that he was not his usual white self. I pointed out to them that it was just changing colour to be able to better camouflage itself in the spring and summer landscapes. Subhanallah how merciful is Allah to his creature, each blessed with its special features.


Mr. Arnab sometime in January
Mr. Arnab today, becoming brown

I wanted to get some idea on more nature type activities to do with the children. I came across this wonderful websites called Nature Detectives. It offers many printable resources according to seasons. It is a UK based organization. I am sure many of the ideas can be easily adapted to other locations.

NOTE: Thanks to Umm Tafari’s question below, I have changed the title of this post. I do not want to confuse others.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Nature


Spring Signs – Melting Snow

Even though spring has come, where we live there’s still lots of snow. However as the days get longer and warmer, our snowbanks are slowly melting away. I wanted to do something fun with melting snow.

First we decided to do some snow painting. This is jus some water with food colouring in a squeeze bottle.

Snow over a sheet of paper

Snow painting

I placed the paper hoping when the snow melted, the food colouring will dry on the paper. Unfortunately it did not. We got carried away piling too much snow onto the paper that the dye just washed away! Something to keep in mind next time Insha-Allah.

We also did a little experiment. We filled up three jars with snow. One clean, one slightly dirty and the other quite dirty. DS2 watched for about half a day patiently for all the snow to melt.

Jars of snow

Melted snow

Once the snow melted, we observed the deposit at the bottom of the jar.

Less dirt

Quite dirty

And we had one jar that was completely clean. We talked about how the dirt was more heavy and settle at the bottom. I also reminded my son that all the three jars of water are considered pure even with the dirt in them and can be used to made wudhu. His reaction, “It’ll be freezing, Mama.” 🙂

Snowman Melting & Water Cycle mini books

I also printed a simple water cycle book from here. I chose this one as it mentioned of snow as well as rain. I added these two verses of the Quran about rain to the book as well.

I found a simple counting rhyme on melting snowman here.  DS2 was completely enjoying this book. The snowman he and his brothers built also just recently melted away. He identified with the rhyme.

DS2 Alhamdulillah understood that snow melted and turned into water. Where did the water go? With the ground still partially covered in snow and wet he did not get it that in went into the ground. To demonstrate this fact, I left the only indoor plant we have to dry out a bit. Then gave him a container of water to pour into the pot. He was so amazed at how quickly the water disappeared into the GROUND. The second verse above completely supports this.

We also took a walk in the nearby park which has a river that runs through it. The children were able to see chunks of ice floating in the river. Subhanallah, this was a perfect way to show them how water (rain & snow) that Allah sends down runs as rivers. Snow is really a form of water from the sky. And it’s a mercy from Allah.

After completing these activities, we had 30cm of snow overnight. Alhamdulillah, we all bit our tongue and did not complain. Snow is a mercy of Allah to dry Southern Alberta.


Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Nature


Autumn – Hadith and Blow Painting

This picture we took on a visit to a local park Ahamdulillah was a reminder of the hadith that talks about autumn leaves and salaat and sins.  I wanted to do an art project with DS1 that involved the autumn theme and the hadith.

This artwork uses blow painting technique. You would need poster paints, art paper, paint brushes, straws, glue, fall colour paper confetti and some old newspaper to protect your work table.

Mix poster paint to a consistency that is not too watery. We were wanting to achieve a tree so we started of by drawing a tree trunk. Then using a straw take a blob of paint and drop it at points where you would like the branches to be. Now gently blow on the blob to which ever direction you want the branches to spread. You can move your paper around to get the effect you want. Truly the more random, the better it looks. Once that is done leave it to completely dry.

This is a finished tree trunk. You can see all the blow painting effect on the branches.

Using a paint brush drop some diluted glue to where you want the leaves to be. Be careful not to paint the glue as the colour will run.

Smear about confetti over the glued areas. Keep tapping confetti off the paper to get a better idea where you would like more leaves.  Drop more glue and confetti accordingly.

Alhamdulillah, DS1 wrote out part of the hadith and together with the artwork made it into a poster. We also discussed the message of the hadith. Insya-Allah below is the entire hadith and the explanation of it.

I also worked on a piece of blow painting with my son. Instead of confetti I created leaves using a foam bath sponge like the one below.

Using a paint brush apply poster paint directly on to part on the sponge. I did initially dilute the paint. However I quickly realized that it was not producing the effect I wanted. It was a foam material and did not absorb much of the paint and was smearing.

Alhamdulillah this was my finished autumn tree branch.



Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Art & Craft, Nature