Sunday, February 2, 2014

100th Day of School

Salam alaykum!

Well, the school year is more than halfway through. In fact, tomorrow is the 100th day of school! I have a full day of fun planned for my kinders, with activities related to math and language arts. I was just thinking about how I could tweak these activities to fit in the context of an Islamic school. Here is what I've come up with, and please share your ideas as well!

1. Starting the day off by reciting 100 salawats, preferably using a giant set of prayer beads!

2. I'm having my students make "trail mix," by picking 10 pieces of 10 different items (such as fruit loops, raisins, goldfish, etc.). Once they pick their items, they should sort them on a piece of paper, and then we will chorally count by 1s, 5s, and 10s (hitting those Math standards!). Of course the kids can eat them at the end. To adapt this for the Islamic context, one could use beads of different types, have students pick 10 groups of 10 (or perhaps 5 groups of 20 or a different combination depending on the grade), sort and count them as a class and then make a tasbeeh (prayer beads) out of them. They could also make some sort of pattern out of them on the tasbeeh, which is also math-related! I'm sure they would love using this tasbeeh even more if it's made from their own hands.

3. For writing, I am having my students use different art materials to make a picture of what they might look like at 100 years old (insha'Allah!). They will also write a list of things they hope to do before reaching 100 years. This could be adapted by creating a collective list of 100 good deeds we want to do before we die. The students can still make a picture of what they might look like if they reach 100, and then write down good deeds they want to do (either on one big poster as a class, or dividing the 100 up amongst the students).

4. Listing as a class 100 reasons why we love our school/friends/teachers/anything else!

5. Doing an art project with the names of Allah (swt). This could possibly be related to an Arabic lesson, if your school teaches Arabic. Or perhaps it could be a mini research project. For example, each name could be written on a square, the students would have to look up the meaning of the name (at home? at school?) and then share it with their classmates. All the pieces could be joined together to make a quilt.

6. And finally, to end with a bang, the students could  do 100 rakats of prayer before going home! Just kidding =)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hopes and Dreams

Unfortunately, I am no longer teaching at an Islamic School (for now). Teaching at a public school has been a whole new experience for me, and has really made me miss Islamic school at times. One personality that our school has been focusing on this month is Martin Luther King, Jr. This has given me the opportunity to have a discussion with my students about our hopes and dreams: both for ourselves, and also our community. This is also a great way to integrate Social Studies with Islamic Studies in an Islamic school. One project I did with my first graders a couple years ago was talking to students about our communal hopes and dreams. My students had a lot of great ideas, and I had them use some of these to write an acrostic poem (an activity which, as you can tell, I love dearly).

One thing to keep in mind when working with little ones and poetry is that they need a lot of guidance. One way to help them come up with words for each letter is to do a bubble map as a class for each letter. This way, they can all contribute ideas, and also have some fallback options in case they are having trouble coming up with words.

Here are some examples from my old class (1st grade):

Let me know how this project goes for you!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Golden Rule

A good portion of the Social Studies curriculum for 1st grade focuses on the Golden Rule. This very Islam-friendly concept is also taught to us through various ahadith from our Imams. One such one is:

"Treat others similar to the way you would like for them to treat you."
-Imam Hassan, the second Imam [a]
Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 116
(Found online at

This became the monthly theme for March for my class. We made a poster with the hadith, and each student came up with one way they could follow this advice. I also had little grids taped on each of the students desk, and when I see them following this, I put a star sticker on their chart. I plan on rewarding the students who fill up their chart. Also, we have an akhlaq chart that we started early in the year. On one side there are examples of bad akhlaq and the other side good. These are all behaviors that we see in class, and put them on the chart as they occur (of course the name of the person is omitted).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Our 12 Imams Flapbook

I have been trying to encourage the students to learn and eventually memorize the names of our 12 Imams. Some of them are more familiar with these names than others. I had them make a flapbook at the beginning of the year. As we discuss an Imam, I have the students fill in their books, with a few (up to 5) fast facts about the lifetime of the Imam (AS). On the top portion, they draw a picture, usually having to do with a story I tell them about this Imam.

We sometimes pray salat in our classroom, and at the end of the salat we do a short ziyarat. I have each of the students say the name of one of the 14 infallibles, and then the rest of the students repeat, in hopes that this will help them remember all the names in order. We also made cards that are strung across the classroom, to help them remember while they are saying the ziyarat.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wudhu Book

This is another project from my neighbor. As the students are learning to do wudhu, it can be hard for them to remember all the steps, including which ones are wajib, mustahab, etc. The teacher next door had her students each make a wudhu book, with a step on each page, and a drawing of a child performing that step.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sadaqa Jars

Our class recently made sadaqa (charity) jars, in hopes to instill a positive habit of donating to charity regularly. We talked about the rewards and benefits of sadaqa, and some of the different forms it can take (smiles, clothes, time, money, etc). I couldn't find too much information from Shia sources online, but I did use some hadith from A Bundle of Flowers and also some that I was made aware of by a local scholar:

"Sadaqa will repel calamities" -Holy Prophet (PBUH)
"Sadaqa will prolong your life" -Imam Ali (AS)
"Sadaqa will save you from diseases, such as being stingy, arrogant, and other bad habits" -Imam Jafar Sadiq (AS)
"Sadaqa will bring peace among the people" -Holy Prophet (PBUH)

To make the sadaqa jars, we used empty plastic honey bottles, which I had previously cut a hole on the top of. I taped the jar shut, so that the only opening was where the money would go through. The students took tissue paper and used a paintbrush with the glue and water mixture to stick the paper to the jar. The next day, when it dried, they wrote "sadaqa" on it with a marker, and then painted over the paper with clear, glittery paint. I had prepared a little tag with a hadith on it before hand, which we tied to the jar. Of course, there are many ways to make the same type of thing, using different materials.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Muharram/Safar Activities

The tragedy of Karbala is a huge part of our faith. Sometimes it can be challenging to teach this to younger kids in a way that will resonate with them, and come up with activities and projects.

Here are some resources that I have used: - This is for 1st grade, which is what I teach, but on the website there are books for many grade levels.

For the first days of Muharram, I went through stories with my children, like a mini-majlis, each day emphasizing on one or two of the heroes of Karbala. The resource above was great because it told the story in a couple pages of some of these people.

Muslim ibn Aqeel:
Mokhtarname (The Mukhtar Narrative), which is currently available on YouTube and, has a very nice visual of Hazrat Muslim ibn Aqeel's story. You can show the part where Muslim is walking toward the court of ibn Ziyad and is slowly deserted by the people of Kufa (episode 7, about 48:05), up until the part where he fights the enemies (episode 8, about 12:40). I skip some parts in between, and also do not show his actual death.

Bibi Zainab's speech in the court of Yazid:
This clip does the job in giving a visual of Bibi Zainab and Imam Sajjad (AS)'s speech in Damascus. (starts at about 1:27). With the movie clips, the subtitles went too quickly for younger kids, so I dubbed. For older kids, this would be okay.

Other resources/activities:
*Crossword: Easy to make on (If anyone knows how to attach word docs, please let me know!)
*Maps: These make it a lot easier for the kids to understand the events, since they spanned several cities and countries. A quick google search will lead to many helpful images. If you project it onto the board, you can draw a line showing the journey of the family of the Prophet (P). Here is one map I used:

*Art activity: acrostic poem. I had my students write acrositc poems with the word KARBALA. First, we brainstormed words with each of the letters. As a class, they were able to do this. For older kids, you may want them to do it on their own. Then, We wrote the word Karbala on a black paper vertically. We used chalk. They then wrote the words starting with each letter horizontally. Then, we glued the black construction paper onto a thicker white paper (almost like posterboard). I had them use a piece of plastic (like a tile) which they dipped in red paint, to smear on the white paper. The end result looked like this:

*Art/Language Arts: Flags. This is a project my 3rd/4th grade neighbor did with her students. Each flag has a word/phrase such as strength, importance of salat, helpful, sacrifice, truth, Islam, love for Allah, faithful, justice. Then comes a "dictionary definition" of each. After that is an example of this trait as it was shown in Karbala. The flags are then strung against a bulletin board.

I would love to hear your ideas/comments/suggestions/etc!