Sunday, December 28, 2014

Imam of the Month Bonfire

In our Islamic Studies classes, we have an "Imam of the Month" board. Every month, we let an Imam pick us. We have all the Imams on slips of paper. As a group, we recite a Surah Ikhlas and gift it to all 12 Imams. We then ask one of the Imams to pick us so that we can better get to know him, and we choose one of the papers.

During the month of Muharram, we just happened to pick Imam Husayn (a), or rather, Imam Husayn (a) chose us. This was very exciting for the students.

To help us better get to know Imam Husayn (a), we had a bonfire. Each student had to come prepared with something to share about Imam Husayn (a): a story, a hadith, facts, a poem, a latmiyya, etc. We also prepared a story of why Imam Husayn (a) was named Husayn. In addition, we had materials for s'mores that students could make.

We turned off the lights and lit the candles. Students sat around and shared their contribution to the campfire as we roasted s'mores. It was a great activity that helped us get to know our Imam better in a fun way.

Kalimah: The Flag of Islam

Salam Alaykum!

It's been a while since I've posted, but I have some great new projects we've done recently!

In Kindergarten, we spent the past couple weeks on a very important topic: the Kalimah. We talked about how the Kalimah is like the flag of Islam because it represents our beliefs and compared it to other flags - like the US flag. We went line-by-line, learning the Arabic as well as the English and what it really means. Once all the students memorized the Kalimah in both Arabic and English, we made our own Kalimah Flags as a cumulative activity. Instead of words, we used pictures to represent each line.


These were very simple to make.

1. Use a sheet of construction paper to cut out a flag.

2. Print out the template for the Kalimah pictures here.

3. Students must cut out the pictures and glue them on the flag in order.

4. Tape on sticks or straws as the flagpole.



We also talked about how each picture represents each line:

1. La Ilaha ilAllah - There is no god except for Allah
We used the number 1 to show that there is only 1 God.

2. Muhammadur RasulAllah - Prophet Muhammad (S) is the Messenger of Allah
We used a messenger bird because these birds bring messages to people. Similarly, the Prophet (S) was a Messenger who brought the message of Allah (the Qur'an) to people.

3. Aliyun Waliyullah - Imam Ali (as) is the friend or chosen one of Allah
We use a picture of people holding hands because Allah (swt) chose Imam Ali (as), his trusted friend, to be the Prophet's successor

4. Wasiyu RasulAllah - Imam Ali (as) is the leader after Prophet Muhammad (s)
Here, I told them the story of Ghadir, and how the Prophet (S) chose Imam Ali (as), by the command of Allah, to lead the Muslims after him.

5. Wa Khalifatahu bila Fasl - Imam Ali (as) is the first khalifa
I explained how a Khalifa is like a King, and Imam Ali (As) was the first king, so we used a crown.



The first graders also reviewed the Kalimah and completed a Kalimah mobile project.

Similar to the Kindergarteners, they also went through the Kalimah, but since they had learned it last year, we quickly reviewed the Kalimah and what it means.

They made mobiles as their cumulative project. I gave each of them a CD disk. They tied a piece of string through the CD. I then gave them the template with the pictures (download here). They colored and cut out the pictures. They then spread rubber cement on the CDs and glued the pictures on in order.

They really enjoyed these projects, and it was a fun way for them to learn/review the foundation of their beliefs!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Du'a Before Starting Class

Salam Alaykum!

The way you start class is really important since it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I always try to begin the first class by having one of the students recite the Du'a for starting class from Mafatihul Jinan, but sometimes I forget. I've noticed that on the days where we do remember to recite the du'a, the class as a whole is a lot more beneficial. We tend to get more work then and have more fruitful discussions. It only takes 30 seconds, but it makes a big difference! You can download this du'a with the meanings from Duas.org and post it up in your class to help you remember!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Muharram Jeopardy

Which child doesn't love Jeopardy? As an adult, I still love a good game of Jeopardy. This is why Jeopardy is an awesome way for children to learn and have fun at the same time. If you throw in a competitive element, like a prize, that motivates them even more.

Jeopardy in teams is sometimes tricky with kids, since it's always one person who seems to give all the answers. Therefore, individual Jeopardy is a better alternative for children.

We played  Muharram Jeopardy during one of the children's programs during the first 10 nights of Muharram. We said we would give prizes to the winners, but we decided that everyone is a winner, and everyone received a great prize: Ya Husayn/Ya Abbas/Ya Zaynab pins. They wore their pins with pride for the rest of the 10 days!

You can download the PPT for the Jeopardy over here. You can download the template for individual answer sheets here. Remember to have enough pencils for each child!

Happy learning! :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Salah Sequence Game

Games are a fun way to teach students different concepts, especially for those concepts that are essential, such as salah.

For the 2nd and 3rd graders, a great way to help them learn the names of the actions of salah, as well as the order, we created a salah sequence game.

We created cards with the different actions of salah and students had to put them in order. To add in a competitive element, students competed to see who could do it the quickest. You can download the template for the cards here.

You will need to print out the cards, laminate them, and then cut them so they are all the same size. As an option, you could put magnets on the back of each card so that students can put them in order on the whiteboard.

Materials:
  • Salah action cards (template here)
  • 8.5x11" Laminating pouches
  • Laminator
  • Magnet tape (optional)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: "The Thirst of Sakina"

Salam Alaykum,

As a Shia teacher, the one thing I wish we had more of were great children's books with age-appropriate language and proper English, as well as eye-catching graphics.

One book we recently ordered for our Islamic Studies classroom is "The Thirst of Sakina (sa)."

I really enjoyed this books for several reasons. For one, the language and text was great for a variety of grades. I read it to both the Kindergarten and 2nd graders. Although I didn't read it to the 3rd graders, this was one of our featured books during the first 10 days of Muharram, and I noticed many browsing through it during free time.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the illustrations. These were actually done by orphans who are part of The Zahra Trust, and all profits from this book go to support this foundation and other aid projects. I enjoyed telling this to the students, especially since we recently learned about orphans, and this made it that much more special for them. Another bonus was that they weren't too graphic, which can be disturbing for some students.

I would highly recommend this book for parents and teachers alike.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Imam Husayn (a): The Ark of Salvation

Building lessonplans and activities around ahadith is a great way to make sure your lessons have a solid message behind them.

Another Muharram activity we did at school was based on the following hadith by Rasul Allah (saw):

"Verily, Husayn (as) is the lantern of guidance and the ark of salvation (simplified: boat of rescue)."
"Innal Husain Misbah al-Huda wa Safinat an-Najah"
(Bihar Al-Anwar, V. 36, Pg. 204)

After narrating this hadith to the kids, I asked them what they think it means when the Prophet (s) calls Imam Husayn the "boat of rescue." They had some great answers. We talked about how the purpose of a boat is to transport you to a destination, and the boat of Imam Husayn (a) transports you to heaven. We also talked about how a boat keeps you from drowning in the water, and similarly, the boat of Imam Husayn (a) keeps you afloat and prevents you from drowning in this dunya. Finally, we talked about how we can make sure we embark upon this boat by doing good deeds and obeying Allah, the masoomen, our parents, and teachers.

The kids then made these awesome origami boats and decorated them by writing "Ya Husayn" as well as the hadith. The instructions for making these boats can be found here.  11x17 size paper works best for this project.

As a follow-up to this project, you could also focus on the first part of the hadith (misbah al-huda/lantern of guidance) and make cool lanterns.