Oct 172014
 

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

You might remember when I reviewed Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah and how impressed I was with their debut book. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to review their second book, Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival, I think I’m a fan for life. They’ve done it again, with crisp, interesting images, a fun story line, and tidbits of knowledge sprinkled throughout in unexpected places, and this time centering Eid for kids.

The Ilyas and Duck books aren’t just two books with the same main characters. There are definitely themes in both books in regards to the style and flow through the story, keeping it engaging and amusing. My favorite, especially during this American holiday season? Duck mistakenly brings Christmas and Hanukkah presents to decorate for Eid, but his best friend Ilyas corrects him, simply saying, “That’s for our Christian/Jewish friends.” With Aamina coming up to 4 years old, she’s more observant than ever, and there’s no way to avoid all the Christmas decorations surrounding us. Alhamdulilah, it’s a real treat to have a book that addresses it so beautifully for young readers.

I wondered if this book would sit on our shelf, unused for most of the year and just dust it off for Ramadan and Eid, but with simple explanations for kids who see these celebrations happening around them, I know this book won’t be collecting dust.

Eid for kids

I also appreciate that Ilyas and Duck focus on Eid as its own celebration rather than a break from a month of fasting. We want kids to appreciate Ramadan, and to enjoy Eid in its own right, rather than a celebration from a dreaded experience, in sha Allah. The celebration is about family and friends, which Ilyas and Duck learn at the masjid – the perfect place for little Muslims! Now, I only wish I could take a hot air balloon there. That would solve the Eid salat parking dilemma!

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Beyond just celebrating, Ilyas and Duck make sure to join in Eid salat (perfect time to talk about proper manners while the adults are praying!), and give their zakat. Again, great starting points to talk about the pillars of Islam, and the importance of them to join us in our local and worldwide community.

And what’s more? Ilyas and Duck give in charity with their hands, mashaAllah.

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Every book I have read before Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival has been a non-fiction book, missing a story to keep little readers engaged, and thus missing the message of Ramadan and Eid. While the previous books have gotten the job done to introduce Eid to kids, Ilyas and Duck presents Eid in a story young Muslims want to read again and again. What better way to get our kids excited for Eid, even when they are surrounded by the lights and hustle of the Christmas season?

Oct 132014
 

 

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

It can get a little nerve racking having a preschooler at home all day, that’s to say the least. You can save yourself a headache or 12 by getting your preschooler involved in your daily homemaking activities. Cooking with kids can be fun and educational!

I don’t know any preschooler who isn’t ready and willing to help mom around the house, just a little hobby homemaker in training. Of course having your mini me help out will benefit you, but it will also prepare your preschooler for their next step, the BIG K. Involving your preschooler in the homemaking will increase their attention span, give them a sense of responsibility, introduce math skills, and improve their hand eye coordination.

One of a preschoolers favorite activities is cooking! They get to make a mess and when it’s all said and done they get to eat their masterpiece. I know that some moms get a little nervous with the thought of a potential mess, but it’s part of the learning process. Your job is to assist without taking over, just enjoy the process.

Here’s a step by step recipe on cooking with kids – make pancakes preschool style!

You can find the wheat free pancake recipe used in this homemaking activity at ummishouse.com.

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

First you’re going to gather and pre-measure all of the ingredients. Split everything up into separate bowls because the best part of cooking for a preschooler is the pouring and scooping. Put the flour in one bowl, the other dry ingredients in another bowl, the wet ingredients except milk in its own bowl. You’ll also need a measuring cup for milk, measuring cups for the flour and measuring spoons for the other dry ingredients. Don’t forget the empty mixing bowl for your preschooler to pour their ingredients in.

Now, let the fun begin!

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

You want to have at least 2 different sized measuring cups and spoons available. This will increase your preschooler’s math awareness; they’ll start to recognize that the larger cup/spoon will hold more than the smaller one. It helps to add an extra tablespoon of flour to account for spills.

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

This may be the cringe moment for some, but let your preschooler measure the milk, and you can try pointing to the stop line before they begin. This will test their memory and ability to follow directions. If it doesn’t look like they’ll stop just say when. For this step, it helps to be working on a surface that is below the preschoolers waist. If the jug of milk is to heavy just put it in a lighter container for them to pour from.

Cooking with kids can be fun and educational! Try this pancake recipe out, with step by step instruction! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Yay! Great job! Your preschooler is well on his/her way to becoming a pancake making expert. I find this to be way better than a sensory table, plus it’s hands on and delicious!

Do you enjoy cooking with kids? What’s your favorite recipe?

Oct 102014
 

Independent learning is the goal, but how do we build the foundation for our homeschooled high schoolers to get there, and be successful? One step at a time, we need to build accountability for our homeschoolers. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

The teenage years are such a struggle between childhood and adulthood. Teens want to be treated like adults, but many times lack some of the skill and foresight that is expected from adults. When do we give a teen some wiggle room in their school work as part of their learning curve, and when do we treat it like a boss would, rejecting anything that’s under par?

Early expectations

I realized quickly last year that I did not set the stage for complete and thorough work earlier on, and it was a huge learning curve for Kira to find that I was drilling down to each individual point when she hit the high school years. She was working so hard on some things, and in middle school I failed to notice the finer details that were getting missed because I figured a grading rubric wasn’t necessary yet. Have you set the stage? Have you slowly introduced new expectations as they get older? If not, it probably isn’t fair to expect that type of output from them until they have some practice.

Age appropriate

I’m also learning that 9th graders really are largely adult sized children. I don’t mean this in an offensive way, but it’s easy for me to think of my daughter as a budding college student. She wants college level work, she wants college level privileges and I believe she thinks of herself as basically an adult. How easy it is to expect college level work from someone who communicates such needs and wants, but I have to remember that she may underestimate what college level work really looks like. Going from middle school to college is confidence-smashing, and not helpful to anyone.

Emotional ability

Some teenagers are really hard on themselves for even the most minor bump in the road. In my opinion, it’s more important to get a child emotionally ready for the world than intellectually ready. You can always learn new things, but learning how to cope with other people and with trying situations takes a lot more work, and causes a lot more pain. If your student needs a bit of grace with a couple assignments in order to realize where their strengths lie, then so be it. I’m not saying to give students a blind pass, but instead of nit picking the grammar of a self-doubting teen, let’s focus on their fantastic creativity and form.

Write it down

I’ll say it again. Write it down. And don’t just write it down, follow up. Kira is a classic skimmer. She will skim instructions, lesson plans, whatever, and details will get missed. Don’t get me wrong, she has great strengths in seeing the big picture! She finishes things fast, but in that effort to be fast, sometimes details get missed. If it wasn’t written down, then it’s not fair to expect something to get done. I highly recommend a lesson planner that will automatically move forward missed work, like Homeschool Planet. If something was written down for a week that you are so sick you’re barely getting out of bed, who’s to say you’re going to get to everything in a timely manner from that week? Busy high school days require some automation, at least in my house.

When it goes wrong

Sometimes things aren’t going to go as planned. Sometimes it will be a downright failure. There are lessons to be learned along the way, and that’s how it has to be treated. Kira knows I’m not afraid to hold her back a grade if I feel that her work wasn’t actually completed, but that’s a drastic measure, and we haven’t gotten to that point, alhamdulilah. Instead, anything we’ve experience thus far has been a life lesson, because the best life lessons are the ones learned while still at home.

When it goes right

Accountability is not just recognizing when thing go wrong! Celebrate successes, and notice them every time they come up. We should be our child’s biggest supporter, whether that’s supporting them during tough times, or times of celebration. Be the first to suggest a mother daughter date in celebration of work reliably done on time. Take time out to watch a movie together to bask in free time on Friday night. Organize a surprise visit with her best friend, just because you can. The teen years can be a really tough time where kids get really down on themselves. Make sure to lift them up more than you criticize them. They’ll remember that.

What are your words of advice for building accountability with your teenager?

How Big is Allah? Review!

How Big is Allah? Review!

I remember when my friend, Emma, posted on Facebook that she woke up with an awful migraine, but had this book idea that just had to be put to paper. Suffering through the migraine this last Ramadan, How Big is Allah? was born. I always admire my creative friends in how they can seem so inspired and driven toward creating something new, but I rarely see the finished product. I was very excited to see Emma’s [Read more...]

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