I’m not one for busywork, but I would like the kids to write a little more. I’ve asked Mars to keep a special journal for the presentations she has done at the homeschoolers’ club meetings. After a break, she has gone back to copywork again and this time, we’ve set more stringent standards as she herself has expressed a desire to have better handwriting.
Bear has been composing poems – some sound like cute little haikus and all have a touch of drama to them! I’ll have to ask her permission before I reproduce them here. She is quite a shy little girl still and sometimes objects to having attention drawn to her. (I’ve tried to respect her need for privacy and this is why I don’t blog about her as much.)
We’ve been revising the Stories of the Prophets. We’ve studied them before and loved them to bits. It seems that every time we read, we learn something new and find nuggets of wisdom that we can apply to our daily lives. We are thus revisiting these stories, but in greater depth this time.
I’ve made some notebooking papers for documenting our learning points. Of course, any regular notebook or paper will do for journalling, but we have a boatload of paper from the Dad Man’s office that he no longer has use for – they are used on one side, so we are printing on the other. A bit of green living and an excuse to pretty up our papers :)
Here are some notebooking sheets for The Story of Prophet Adam `alayhis salaam. You can download them at Scribd if you have an account or you can just download them here. I’ve kept them pretty simple – not a lot of clipart or anything of the sort. I thought that the kids could draw their own pictures if they wanted. There are extra sheets for fillers and also a few for younger writers, with primary lines.
Please let me know if you have any issues with the document… I hope you like it!
*Edit: I’ve corrected a couple of mistakes and amended the primary lines, so please download the latest version!
The rowdy ruffians have been buckling down to more book learning these days and alhamdulillah, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground. I’ve told them to work on their weak areas especially – Math for Marz and reading for Bear. I’d thought that they would rail against the stricter schedule, given that we’d slowed down a bit in the last couple of months, but ma shaa Allah, they’ve been tremendously good sports about it.
We’ve had many disruptions to our days – there are always so many frustrations when you live in an older home long in need of repairs. There was a time when our walls and ceilings had to be sanded and everything – I kid you not, EVERYTHING – was covered in a fine powder that took weeks to clean. Then, there were the leaks from pipes in mysterious locations – plumbers came in and out breaking through walls only to find their diagnosis in error. Meanwhile, the glass extension which we had had such hopes for continued to disappoint by letting in rain.
Our small living area was cluttered beyond belief. It seemed that we just could not get a handle on things and there were days when we felt like screaming our lungs out and throwing the towel in. We were anxious to get back to our home schooling. What we didn’t realise though was that our home was schooling us :)
When things settled down and we had to begin the slow process of cleaning and putting everything back in, we became reacquainted with our possessions. We learnt that we had inherited, purchased and clung on to many things that were simply not enhancing our lives. Alhamdulillah, the experience had taught us not to buy anything heedlessly and to give freely what others could use, rather than hang on to them for sentimental reasons. Truly, we don’t need as much as we think we do!
We’ve learnt as well that things don’t always go to plan – in fact, they often go wrong! – and that, really, is alright. We have to learn to just grit our teeth and be patient.
We’ve learnt that we do need others and it isn’t a bad thing. Most of all, we need Allah and we need to trust in Him. It’s funny, but our numerous botched plans have actually taught us to be at peace. We would do well to remember the hadeeth in which Rasulullah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “How amazing is the affair of the Muslim! His affairs are all good. If he experiences ease, he is grateful, and that is good for him. If he experiences hardship, he faces it with patience and perseverance, and that is also good for him.” (Muslim)
Qadr Allah wa ma shaa fa`al. Alhamdulillah `alaa kulli haal.
There is a saying, “All good things come to those who wait.” I think we can and will hold out a little longer, in shaa Allah.
The learning? Well, it continues alhamdulillah… :)
Oh give me patience when wee hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion, or noise
Obscure my vision of life’s fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come my house is still,
No bitter memories its room may fill.
The girls have been putting their share into reorganizing our extension. It was meant to be our homeschool headquarters and to house our Lightbulb Lab, but after many leaks and much damage, the idea had to be abandoned. It became a catch-all unfortunately and is presently a horribly messy store-room. We’ve finally made some progress where the repairs are concerned though and while the job isn’t complete yet, we are feeling quite hopeful :) I think the girls could use some breathing and creating space!
They love crafting and making their own toys. This pastime has, on occasion, given me a few headaches – there are only so many pebbles, branches and leaves I can tolerate in the house! (Hence the need for the extension to be properly done up pronto…) I must admit though that I like this about children – their ingenuity.
They found an old box that was falling apart and some little wooden toys and were good to go! They worked on felt pillows and blankets and spent ages arranging their rooms and then made clothes for some old figurines they found.
I’ve always wanted to give my kids natural toys and fell in love with many, but most were only available online and were way out of my budget. There are the well-crafted Ostheimer toys for instance. I once wanted to get a set for Marz when she was much younger. It was a set of Inuit dolls – a whole family complete with sled and dogs. Each figurine ALONE cost between US$26 to US$42… yes, it just about gave me a coronary too and cured me of my Ostheimer obsession! We settled instead for what we could find locally. In Singapore, we found an unfinished wooden doll house and furniture – such a gem as it was reasonably priced and on sale to boot. I thought it would be a great craft project for the kids to do up the house. We also bought lots of wooden toys from Daiso that cost us S$2 each. Perhaps they don’t compare to Ostheimer or many other Waldorf toys that are beautifully crafted, but I think they were good finds given our finances and achieved pretty much the same goal – creative and meaningful play.
If there is a dearth of quality toys in Singapore, it is even worse in Pakistan. Most stores here seem to stock only poorly made plastic ones that are flimsy and gaudy or battery-operated toys that not only inhibit creativity but also impair hearing.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that kids don’t need many toys or manipulatives for play or learning. We’ve had to leave many things back in Singapore, but alhamdulillah it has been good for us. We’ve learnt that with imagination and creativity, we can do just fine with what is available. Most children don’t need much prompting in this respect – they know how to make do and have a jolly good time while they are at it.
Kyrie Mead of Are So Happy has written a delightful article about Untoys. Unlike finished toys, these are normal every objects that you can find around the house or the outdoors. The beauty of these materials is that they are open-ended – there is no right way to go about playing with them; it is entirely up to the child’s imagination. My kids have a collection of grey pebbles – they use them as decoration pieces, dolls’ stools and even painted some to resemble swaddled baby dolls. (I think they were inspired by the very adorable story, Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen!) They also love cardboard boxes – these become their tents, cars or whatever they please.
Marz and Bear do have some plastic toys, but their passion is really wooden ones. There is something about the feel of wood – the weight, the texture and beauty – that makes playing with them so joyful. They miss some of their wooden toys left back home in Singapore, so we did what they love – made some new ones! We had some unfinished plain wooden doll bases and painted these last week…
Pic #1: The “Gal Pals” – the pink one with the large flower is going to Arizona in shaa Allah :)
Pic #2: Bear calls these two “The Twins” – the yellow one is her favourite.
The ‘hijabis’ – we prefer to keep the dolls as featureless as possible… no arms and some have no eyes.
These are smaller than the dolls in the previous pictures. We have an assortment here – a grandma, a boy and even a little baby (he’s all bundled up in a white blanket and is supposed to be asleep).
The job can be a little painstaking – they have to be very meticulous to avoid smudges – painting over mistakes is not a solution as the mistakes can show up weeks or months later after varnishing. (We have to sand any bad paintwork down.) They also have to wait patiently for each layer of paint to dry to make sure that the work is even and neat. (Of course, having a fussy, borderline OCD mum who overthinks doesn’t help!) Still, it was very satisfying and a good creative release! As Bear likes to say, “It’s always better to make your own things. It’s so much more fun!”
Well, we are still fighting a battle with clutter and dust so I’m off for a bit… I hope you have many colourful days ahead!