Thursday, 13 November 2008

Time flys.........

Well doesn't it just! Been a while and of course lots has happened. We had a good Ramadhan and invited some friends over for Eid mashaAllah but we all missed DH.

Well, our joint teaching group have finished their lapbooks (will try and post some pictures inshaAllah) and we have just started back at our joint lessons again with the new topic of 'The Weather'. I am approaching the teaching a little more prepared this time alhamdulillah and have even managed to set homework (so far!). I think everyone is enjoying it inshaAllah - it is definitely a very interesting subject with so many reminders of Allah's wrath and mercy all in one thing and lots of new duas to learn too inshaAllah. May Allah protect us from his wrath, Ameen.

The kids have settled down into a routine now and seem to be enjoying it. We have just started using a free online math tutoring programme that was recommended on one of the blogs I visit. It is an online assessment test in math and English (American) called Mindsprinting. Your child takes an online test and it sets up a personalised programme for them with daily worksheets to download. We use it as a curriculum as I feel that worksheets are not a brilliant way to teach (although they do use them sometimes) and its great. DS1 panics aboutmaths worksheets so I copy the work into a exercise book for him or cut up the worksheet and make little manipulatives/mini books and glue them in his exercise book. See below but please ignore dates...not sure whats going on with this camera.....blah....blah....modern technology...... wouldn't have happened in my day.... blah....blah.....blah!

DS2 doesn't mind worksheets and just gets on with them. I tend to spend a lesson explaining new concepts and try to break up the week so they are not doing worksheets every day - we will spend a day doing hands-on stuff, or working on the white board etc.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Fun times ahead....

or maybe not! I have been thinking about the way we (or I) have been so keen to find lots of 'fun' things for the kids to do over the summer (and beyond), all the exciting stuff etc, but is it all really necessary? Do they really need all this exciting stuff to do? Shouldn't their home, family and deen be enough for them? No one is saying they have to lead miserable lives but I mean where do they go when canoeing and power kiting etc isn't enough? Where will they get their frills then?

What happened to the children that were happy with whatever they were given and could entertain themselves with out all the 'stuff' that society says they need. Some people always seems to be getting 'something better' i.e. the next playstation, the faster computer etc but is it really making them happy?

The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) (‘alayhis salam) said, ‘The world is a prison for the believer and a jannah for the non-believer’ [Sahih Muslim Kitaab Az-Zuhd] - inshaAllah I pray that Allah guides us and our children to spend this life in devotion to their Him and spend the everlasting life in Paradise in enjoyment. Ameen. To protect them from the temporary thrills that this life has to offer to the permanant thrill and excitement of life in Paradise. Ameen.

I don't think that I will be finding 'exciting' things for the boys to do next year ishaAllah.

I found this post in my 'drafts' folder but liked it and decided to post anyway (6 months later :0))... would be interesting to get your views on this musing inshaAllah.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Back to normality....well sort of!

Hello again, well we have spent the last two weeks in a whirl, with DH around it's difficult to sit down for 5 minutes! Everything changes so much when he is around alhamdulillah.

Well, we have have had two weeks of joint lessons. The first week we studied land & water plants and day/night flowering plants and tropisms for science. Contours and grid references again (as I bodged it up the first time) for geography and for art we did shape searches, collages and pictures. We have finished the shape theme now and will be moving on to colour next week inshaAllah.

'A' has survived his first day at the 'Summer Sports Activity Programme' and he wants to go back next week despite suffering at the hands of bullies and having his drink nicked. It left me with a whole weird feeling and I had to fight my initial reaction to not let him go again..... it's very difficult to advise them what to do in these situations and although I have told him that he must stand up for himself and if someone hits him he can hit back, it's so hard to let them go..... you just want to protect them so much and I know it's normal but it's a different world now from when I was younger. Allah make it easy for all of us inshaAllah and protect our children inshaAllah.

Sorry don't have no pictures of all our good work as I left my digital camera in London.... boo hoo, didn't realise how much I used it until I lost it.....

We have done loads of modelling, drawing and going out this week but not much writing or math hmmm. We are having next week 'off' as I have appointments, 'A' has his sports day (canoeing this week!), 'A' & 'B' are also having a 'sleep over' as well as the usual swimming and teaching days etc! So I will have to get them to knuckle down the week after inshaAllah, that's as long as nothing more interesting crops up ;0)))

Well it's late and I have a house to clean ready for our Quran teacher tomorrow so good night all and God bless and guide us all. Ameen.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Whisked of our feet...........

Well minutes after my last post my husband whisked us all off to London for a couple of days to see my mum. MashaAllah, it was so nice to see her but such a short visit - never mind! The kids all enjoyed seeing their nan and didn't want to come home - it's a shame we don't see her more often, 'A' was trying to convince her to buy the house next to ours but she wasn't keen. Oh hum!

Well, I have had a sore back since we got home so not much structured stuff going on here I'm afraid..... but we did have a lovely day yesterday making 'costumes' we made knights helmets, swords & daggers and all sorts of stuff. It was lots of fun! Sorry don't have any pics as I left my camera in London :0(( Today 'A' has been catching up on his reading and the kids have really been interested in loads of stuff, asking so many questions about books they have read or looked through that it has made my head whirl. They have all been trying to write of their own accord and were disappointed to miss out on their 'Saturday Class'. We also cleaned up the tank to get it ready for another attempt at growing triops..... we have a desk lamp this time which is the variable in this little experiment so I hope they will live as long as our friends triops inshaAllah (they even had a baby hatch! A grandmother at such a young age!).

Have done lots of preparation for our joint classes tomorrow, I am amazed at how much I am learning never mind about the kids. We do have an experiment for science so I know they will enjoy it inshaAllah.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Busy doing nothing........

This is how it seems when you home educate informally. Hmmm lets see what have we been doing..... well on Friday we got up early and went to the sports center to book 'A's summer sports session however, the sports center was shut! So we went to the charity shop (a long standing promise I'm afraid) and then met a friend and the boys all went off to Jummah together - Ahhh!

We had a meeting in the afternoon to plan our group sessions until Ramadhan. At home time I lost 'A' who ended up staying with his friend for a couple of nights and went swimming and trampolining on Saturday (much more fun than being with me apparently!).

As for those left behind they went to their Maths & English class on Saturday and Quran Class on Sunday. Other than that I know we have done loads but I am unable to recall exactly what! I know we read more about butterflies and did some stuff together in relation to science.

Well that's all I can remember............. how frustrating!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Relaxing days.......

We've had a couple of really relaxed days alhamdulillah. We spent all day Wednesday enjoying each other; playing, gardening, playing board games, cooking n stuff. We didn't actually start our school work until 5.30pm, imagine!

And today we all woke up really late and then went to visit a friend to play etc.

Found out about a sports activity sessions that are going on through out the holidays and want to book in 'A' for one day a week for the 6 weeks. It sounds fab; canoeing, football, basketball, cricket, badminton, water sports and lots more. But guess what? 'A' doesn't fancy it! He is worried about being rubbish and having to be the 'goal keeper'; he has a real fear about being a failure and I am not sure how to get him out of it! He's not sporty I have to admit but I did eventually (with the help of nanny) manage to convince him to give it a go; you know 'it doesn't matter if you win or loose' 'not important if you are good or not just enjoy it', 'whole point is to experience things and decide whether you like it or not' etc. None of my other kids are so 'homey'! I guess just throwing him in at the deep end will get him out of it inshaAllah.

Last triop has died. Kids have decided that it was too cold in the kitchen and we now have to buy a lamp and try again inshaAllah.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Why is it that.....

we do so much more on our days off than we do on our planned days?

Tuesday is our planned day off after our very full and busy Mondays alhamdulillah. The boys found a frog in the garden today, they studied it at length and had to be convinced that it would not make a very good pet! They then went happily off to find somewhere suitable to release it in the process having a great discussion on what was and wasn't a suitable habitat. They eventually put him to rest in a perfect place just right for frogs. Well done boys!

Much to my disgust, which I had to hide of course, they also dismantled their dead butterfly and made slides out of it. A good use of a dead butterfly I suppose! They were talking about taking its insides out for examination on a slide at one point and only agreed not to when I pointed out that they would all be mashed up so no use for examination purposes. Phew. We got a microscope kit from the car boot sale that had gum media and stains included so they have been dying to find an excuse to carve something up to make slides. So now we have slides of a butterfly's wing, proboscis, antennae and leg. They are not perfect but are a very good try - well done again boys!

The boys also went cherry picking with their dad which left just enough time for me to have an afternoon nap with E. Once you get past a certain age afternoon naps have a strange appeal. When the boys came back we spent some time running around and playing in the garden....... the boys had 'mop' horses and were holding a jousting competition whilst I ate cherries to my hearts content. Well done again boys! If only they would do writing and math of their own accord everything would be just about perfect!

DH has decided that he doesn't want the kids to eat in between meals alhamdulillah, this is great step forward as it is usually him that feeds them between meals. Things are moving onwards with great speed alhamdulillah.

Monday happy Monday

Monday started late but finished up just on time alhamdulillah. We was very late for our joint teaching session, even after DH pitched in and cooked my contribution towards lunch mashaAllah, which didn't start until the boys got back from the mosque at dhur - oh well, it couldn't be helped.

After a late start, a lovely lunch and some Neurofen for my headache we cracked on with geography. MashaAllah, saved at the last moment by my dear sister who prepared a map and questions for this session mashaAllah. I never thought it would be so hard to find a decent map to work from, be warned! Anyway, they kids loved the session. They had a map of our local town center and had a range of questions relating to the map, some questions asked for straight forward grid references, some asked the children to look up a grid reference and find a landmark or building in the grid. Other questions asked for directions from a certain building. The kids really enjoyed it mashaAllah and even the older ones found it challenging and whilst the older ones were busy the little ones were making map puzzles.

Next up was science. Whilst we enjoyed studying cells it was good to move on and this week we looked at vascular and non vascular plants. We first talked about the differences between the different plants and how scientist use this as a means of classifying plants. Then we made little fold up (see pics) booklets; one on each type of plant. The older kids had to write the information in their booklets and the younger ones had ready prepared information that they had to read and choose where and in which booklet to glue it. Finally we completed a small quiz just to drive the concept home. Not a very interesting topic but I think that the kids liked making the little books!

I really enjoyed the art this week mashaAllah. We brought together our positive and negative images lesson and our patterns lesson this week. We cut a large positive image out of white paper and divided it up into sections; each section had to be filled using different patterns. All the children from the 3 to the 13 year old can all take part in this lesson and it is always enjoyed by all. The art lessons are so simple but very effective mashaAllah. The bottom picture shows a bit of additional work we did following a previous lesson on straight and wavy lines mashaAllah.

Finished the day off with swimming and back to our friends for some more food and play alhamdulillah. I love Mondays, its such a full day and I always end up feeling really tired but happy!

New, new approaches

So I've thrown away the maths workbooks (well filed them away, I wasn't brave enough to bin them) and started teaching maths without them and it worked out very well alhamdulillah. We started off by doing an oral session going over the times table; counting in 2's, 5's and 10's; days of the week; months of the year and seasons. After doing the months of the year B asked which month he was born in. This escalated into them phoning friends and family to find out which months they were born in and making a bar chart. We then input the information into Excel and made it into several different charts.

What a wonderful lesson, they don't get this keen or involved in their workbooks - they just do it quickly to get it over and done with and don't really take anything in. I think we will continue this way with our lessons, they are definitely learning more and enjoying it! Bonus. All the children wanted a turn on saying things by themselves to show how much they knew and the biggest challenge was getting the older ones to keep quite while the younger ones had a go - but they managed it in the end mashaAllah.

The second part of the session will be to do some sums in an exercise book or loose leaves for their folder. Will need to suss out what they like most to make it that much more appealing inshaAllah!

A is slipping into moan mode again so I am ignoring him until he asks nicely in a 'happy' tone and with a smile on his face. He is working it out inshaAllah. The kids are still trying to pitch DH and I against each other but we are standing firm alhamdulillah and seem to be winning!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Unforeseen circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances indeed. Today we decided that we would release our beautiful butterflies to go and do whatever butterflies like doing. They all went off quite happily however, in a comedy of errors AB stepped on one and as he recoiled in horror and stepped back another one got a kick. In his defense they did land on the wood chips and were difficult to see. We brought them both back in to the 'butterfly hospital' but sadly one died and the other is not looking too healthy. The fourth one that emerged today still has crumpled up wings after several hours (which is much longer than the others) so I am not sure whether to let it go or not, it seems cruel somehow.... I was really loving this project, we all were, but after such a sad ending to it I don't think I would raise any again. All of these things could have happened if they were 'wild' butterflies of course but that doesn't seem to make it any easier for the poor things. We had a long discussion about whether it was right to buy or sell these kinds of kits; arguments for included the educational value and the fact that the caterpillars were reared for this so are not ready for the big wild world, and arguments against included the fact that they wouldn't rear them if we did not buy them and maybe there were somehow damaged by the rearing process or the gloop that they are fed with during the first week or so, or even by our handling of them as pupas etc. Jury is still out I'm afraid.

We all spent all afternoon in the garden planting, weeding and building shelters (them not me) and hiding under the gazebo during the downpours. DH was weilding bits of metal to each other and the kids were busy planting the 40 or so pips they had from their cherries.......... oh dear!

I also had a marathon hair cutting session and cut all the boys hair; it's really funny the conversations that we have while I'm cutting their hair. AB was first and he was pretending that all his hairs could talk. It was so funny and when I was cutting around his ears he was pretending to be his ear and saying 'oh no, please don't cut me or I can't listen to mummy any more'. Next was B; he was marvelling about the people who spend 'thousands' of pounds on hair gel to make their hair stand up so they could look good for complete strangers. He just couldn't understand why. Such wisdom for one so young. And lastly A who was discussing the comparison of brain size between early man and modern man which apparently shows that we are more intelligent (a matter of opinion of course). He was also trying to think what it would be like to have giant slugs and butterflies around - I of course am not keen, especially if the butterflies can kick back!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Strawberries and butterflies (but not all on the same plate)

We had no joint teaching session this week as one of our group has been preparing for her first visit from the LEA. She has nothing to worry about but it has made me think about where I am going with the boys. I must start planning for their education in 3 month blocks and setting some goals inshaAllah. I have a friend that tutors using a teaching style that she has developed herself mashaAllah and she is going to take the kids for an English and Math lesson on Saturdays.... I will let you know how it goes inshaAllah.

We have also had three butterflies emerge, mashaAllah. The red staining you can see on the top photo is dye that is left over from the ink that is pumped into the butterflies wing. I was so excited when I noticed the first one that my friend said it sounded like I had given birth. And that was exactly how it did feel; minus the pain and discomfort of course. It is just amazing, I would recommend that everyone has a go at raising butterflies. The third butterfly was almost drowning in their food when we came home and 'B' rescued it - my hero.

We also did some gardening....... well DH done the gardening while I sat with my feet up (well I did work very hard looking after the kids while he was away). This is photo of my favourite shrub ever and it smells amazing, the whole garden is alive with its scent. Being a city girl I have no idea what it is, although from my research on the internet I think it could be a 'Mock Orange', but it's lovely, whatever it is. We are (still) looking at redesigning the garden and I think I have come up with a plan inshaAllah. I am going to do some soil testing with the kids and work out where plants should go and make a plan inshaAllah. Should be fun!

We also went strawberry picking mashaAllah we had a lovely day and what lovely, but expensive, strawberries. We will go again inshaAllah, the kids were really surprised at how some of the different fruit grows bless them. We also took some time to discuss why the plants were on raised tables rather than the ground, why some were big and some small etc etc etc.

'A' was definitely less stroppy today actually he was great mashaAllah and I think we all enjoyed spending time with DH for a change. Onwards & upwards.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Car boot addiction

Today DH fulfilled his promise and took us all to the car boot sale to get the kids some toys as he came back empty handed from Turkey. What a place..... subhanAllah, I know people that go every week without fail. It's like an addiction, always craving the next bargain fix. Bargains that they don't really want or need. If only they would put so much energy into worshipping their Lord! All that being said I did get a couple of bargains myself; a brand new microscope pack (being as our last one apparently leapt onto the floor and broke all by itself) and a solar system puzzle and fact pack. It was too hot, too much grass pollen, too many people and way too many greasy bacon rolls being consumed but we did have four happy little ones mashAllah! I think this will be my first and last visit to a car boot this year inshaAllah.

Well after our exciting morning at the car boot the kids came home and played with their new toys and I cleaned the front room ready for our Quran teacher. MashaAllah she is such a lovely lady, so patient, I pray that Allah grants her entry to Paradise and keeps our lessons going well inshaAllah. 'A' decided he was too tired to have a Quran lesson and was sure he was going to get it all wrong and look stupid, he didn't like our teacher and didn't want to learn Quran. So we had a medium sized confrontation and I told him that missing his lesson was not an option (I could hear my godly tomatoes guru whispering 'outlast him' the whole while, and so I did). He went in, reluctantly when he realised that he was not going to win. When he was finished he came out smiling with a 'you was right' look on his face. I resisted the temptation to 'rub his nose in it'. 'B' on the other hand is doing very well mashaAllah but he has to have a break in between or he just loses concentration - mashaAllah the sister has got a good routine going with them.

We also baked biscuits today which didn't last long enough to see the flash of the camera but they were lovely and so quick and easy to make for the kids; just 8oz of butter, 30z of icing sugar and 60z flour. Cream the butter and sugar together and then slowly add the flour. Cover with sprinkles etc if wanted then bake at 180 for 6-8 mins. 'A' said they melted in his mouth.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Days off..........

Today we finished making our 3-D shapes using nets from Sen Teacher but somebody crushed my dodecahedron and I have to make it all over again **pout**. We are going to play games with them where the kids have to match the name to the shape, we will of course talk about the names and how they relate to the shape and other things in the world, number of faces, straight and curved lines/faces, count sides etc (I think you get the picture) we may also do some measuring and stuff with them too InshaAllah. And when we have finished 'playing' with them we are going to make a mobile with them. I may also make a card game with them using the picture card generator at SEN Teacher. This is a brilliant site well worth visiting, you can print off 3-D nets, literacy and numeracy fans, game cards, picture cards, literacy dice, handwriting sheets, sheets for reading and drawing clocks, crackerjack wheels and much more - and it's all FREE. You can enter your own information on many of the resources to suit your own teaching needs, a fantastic resource that I use a lot. They also have free learning games to download but I haven't investigated them yet!

Kids played on the computer; DH has decided that he only wants the kids to play on the computer once a week for a short while each which I am more than happy to implement, Alhamdulillah. 'A' has been reading lots of the Usborne Pocket Science books that we got from the Book People. 'B' has been making a real effort with his reading and it took me quite a while to convince him that he still needed to complete his reading programme even though he could read a whole line of a 'small writing' book. More transforming Lego models have been built and it's a shame but they build so many of them that my wonder at them is diminishing - must make more of an effort InshaAllah. Did some Qur'an and some reading practice, we have our teacher coming tomorrow InshaAllah.

I am, in the meantime, taking the opportunity to plan for the next few weeks InshaAllah taking special care to make sure the little ones are catered for. In accordance with the hadith I don't usually do any structured learning until they are 7 but these two little ones want it - probably because their older brothers are doing it!

Well we haven't done very much over the last few days and I feel a bit disappointed. I guess I had visions of lots of learning going on as it did in the first couple of days of our week off but I suppose not everything can go to plan.

The kids have been a bit weird behaviour wise for a couple of days but I think they are just testing the water now that their abi is back; trying to sort out the adult pecking order I suppose. DH and I have shown a united front and InshaAllah this will continue and it's working out great Alhamdulillah. If both parents are at home and the kids ask to do something we have been telling them that they need to leave whilst we discuss the issue and then present the answer to them. They used to use us against one another so hopefully this will put an end to those kinds of situations.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Home comings and holidays.........

One of the most fab things that happened in the last few days was the DH arrived home safe and sound in the early hours of Wednesday morning alhamdulillah. 3 year old E came down the stairs and almost didn't recognise him as his skin has gone so dark mashaAllah. And A went into shock when his dad woke him for Fajr. MashaAllah it was so nice to see him with the kids again I didn't think he was ever going to stop hugging them. Poor thing, if he walks out of the room or goes in the garden for a while the kids are all running around asking where he is! I have made a big effort for DH by way of a thank you for all he did for us as a family whilst I was ill and rather than hit him with all our changes at once I am bringing them up when necessary. He is quite happy to go along with all the changes mashaAllah, and said I should just direct him as and when needed. MashaAllah. I have read that in situations like ours where one spouse is ill and dependant on the other that the carer can feel unwanted and unloved when health is restored to poorly one. I am really trying to keep this in mind as we move on with our plans, I don't want him to feel I don't need him anymore! After all there is still the decorating to do. (OK, that was a joke! I'm not that insensitive, well not intentionally that is.)

Anyway, in honour of DHs home coming I have decided to have time out from structured schooling for the week so the kids can enjoy time with their dad inshaAllah. I haven't told the kids, they probably think it's just a long weekend and its not like they are actually going to ask for work is it!

The most awe inspiring thing that happened was examining our pupas as we put them into their new home. SubhanAllah it is so wonderful; our fat little spikey haired caterpillars have now turned into hardened little shells with the most beautiful golden detail and sheen. To think that inside of that dainty, fragile looking shell their whole bodies are turning into a cellular soup and that the cells will regroup and reform themselves into beautiful butterflies inshaAllah. Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest). This photo is one of our pupas on transit to its new home.

So on the first half of their week off the kids have; made knights costumes which led to lots of learning about jousting, who and what were knights and squires; learned about the pupating period of butterflies; made posters advertising their favourite toys; B made attempts at writing short stories all by himself mashaAllah; dismantled old electrical goods (DVD, DVD Drive & Printer) and tried to work out how all the different parts worked, A also learned that tiny metal cogs can cut fingers and that a lot of the parts in these machines are the same; made a 'Lego History Museum' that I really liked which had an Egyptian World, WW2 (see picture), Space World, Pirates World (with a pirate that fell into a trap trying to steal the treasure), Sea World and some others that I can't remember (don't tell the kids tho!). We did some gardening, baked cakes (yes more cakes), helped put up a bed and learned all about jumping spiders (argh!). Not bad for a couple of days of unplanned learning.

Scores for today: Education 4 parenting 1. Kids have all been in a strop today; maybe because of colds (I have a couple with snotty noses!) or excitement at Baba being home. Regardless of the reason, AB decided that its much more fun to wind everybody up than to play nicely and, I have to give him his due, he is very good at it. He had almost everyone steaming at the ears today and poor E (who being a girl is very emotional) would cry as he spat out 'bad girl' intermittently between destroying whatever the other 2 boys ere doing. So as a consequence of the continual quarreling and calls of 'mummm, tell him' they were all in bed extra early ready for a much better day tomorrow inshaAllah. The 1 point was for me not losing it. Ahhhhh peace.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Blessings of sisterhood.....

Saturday started with a friends daughter coming to look after the kids so I could go shopping for food and clothes for myself - a rarity I assure you! Clothes not the food that is! 1. because when your a mum you seem to come last on the list for everything and 2. because I hate clothes shopping. However, I wanted something nice to wear for DH's homecoming so I bravely headed out to the local shopping center. SubhanAllah, how stressful! Even though I had a friend on the video phone helping me to choose outfits, which was a laugh and did help, I probably still lasted not much longer than an hour, I tried on 6 items of clothing and then gave up and left empty handed. I have decided I am too old, or too impatient, for the hustle and bustle of town centers and will stick to Internet shopping in the future. I then hit Asda for a food shop and headed off home fit to drop, which may have had something to do with me not going to bed until about 4am the night before.

Whilst I had been running all over the City the kids in the meantime, had been having a wonderful time. MashaAllah, the sister (an energetic teenager we will call Anuty A) is such a blessing she is great with the kids and they love having her over to play - in fact they did a video message asking her to come the day before bless them! It also means that I can get on with other stuff that usually gets put aside so that I can see to the kids. So, they had a day off from work and just played and I managed to get my desk cleared for the first time in weeks, alhamdulillah. Aunty A made the kids exercise or do balancing tricks everytime they raised their voices or complained - it was so funny and they really enjoyed it, not sure I'll have the energy to continue that idea though!

Today, we all woke up really late which was nice and mooched about a bit before finally having breakfast about 11 o'clock. I had some typing to do for a friend so Aunty A, who stayed over, looked after the kids whilst I typed mashaAllah! They did some work, although not much, from their workbooks; and I typed. 'A' worked on his Nelson Thornes English book whilst whining and 'B' did some math but I think that's all we got out of them today. The two younger boys made some kites with carrier bags and 'A' made another cake, all by himself mashaAllah, and I typed. Aunty A started the roast and was helped in the later stages by her mum whilst I typed. Yummy! Have I mentioned that I have a proper cooker now? Did enjoy the copy typing though, allowed my brain to switch off - it doesn't get to do that much!

They kids also made shields 'n' stuff so that they could 'transform'. Some time was spent checking out the Ant Farm and we now have four pupating caterpillars - although none of them have managed to stay hanging upside down from the lid of the pot (not sure if they have a poor grip or the enthusiasm of little ones have caused them to drop)! It's so exciting seeing this transformation and a reminder about the wonder of Allah's creation. We had a good discussion about how Allah protects the butterflies during this stage of their transformation and the exciting stuff thats going on inside that seemingly uninteresting pupa. The kids also found a tiny red spider that they caught in an observation pot - we identified it as a red spider mite, not good for the plants apparently but harmless to humans (which pleased me no end!).

'A's still being whiny, 'B' wants to be really intelligent (apparently) and the two smaller ones have been stropy today, but we have had some sneezing and runny noses not sure if it's hayfever or colds, only time will tell. Little 'E' asked me today if her baba (father) was ever going to come home! Ooooh, I just had to give her a hug, I don't think I'll be booking any more long trips for DH for a while inshaAllah! They have all decided that they are going to stay up all night on the day that DH is due to come home, I of course have told them that he is coming home 2 days later than he's due inshaAllah - can't be having that! I really want to spend more time with them but there seems to be so much to do before DH comes home and I have so little time and even less energy. A friend is going to cook for us mashaAllah so at least I don't have to worry about that inshaAllah. It is such a blessing to be a part of this wonderful sisterhood and have the help of good sisters around you, I really appreciate their help and sometimes don't know what I would do without them 'bailing me out'. I find it difficult to ask for help as I was very independant before I embraced the deen but my dear sisters still manage to suss out what I need and do it anyway mashaAllah. Allah bless them and their families with the best of this life and the next inshaAllah.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Exciting times.....

I did aim to get back to some structured learning with the kids today but it seems Allah had different plans for me. A friend asked me to look after her boy, I was happy to help as she was moving house but knew that my plans would go out the window. However, the sister (Allah bless her) was giving me a cooker which I was excited about after cooking on a two ring burner for quite a while so.... as the boys were occupied I had time to cook my first roast dinner for months. Mmmmmmmm.

So, instead of writing in their exercise books as planned they did make a mini project on spiders (well copying and sticking info from a book which technically isn't learning but try telling them that!), made parachutes for bionicle men thingies which involved lots of thinking and experimenting with parachute size, weight, whether holes in parachutes made a difference to the fall rate; height of drop etc. They tested lots of new social skills. DS1 baked a very sweet but yummy cake (weights and measures). DS1 wrote a letter to his nanny. DS1 & DS2 went to the local shop with a little money and a request for a couple of must have items and they worked out which ones to buy etc. They built fascinating Lego models that 'transformed' from all sorts of transportation from tanks to planes into robots; amazing. How they do it I will never know, poor things get really frustrated with me when I play Lego and make 'houses' they try and encourage me to attempt building transforming robots but I am on the same building grade as my 3 year old.... oh hum, well we can't be good at everything can we.

A couple of our caterpillars have started to pupate subhanAllah, it's amazing. I find it all completely fascinating and I can't stop looking at them. There are a few bright red blobs around the tub so I must get out our book and see what that's all about so I can get technical with the kids, they are convinced the caterpillars are bleeding to death! Our butterflies are Painted Ladies and they should emerge as beautiful butterflies in about 14 days inshaAllah - here's a photo of what our pupas (or chrysalis) should look like when properly formed inshaAllah.

'A' has been really miserable and moany (sorry whingey and picky and lots of other adjectives) the last couple of days but I know it's because he is doing all of his prayers and missing out on valuable sleep - but he won't combine to get to bed earlier as he wants to do it all properly mashaAllah. He even said that he never used to like going to sleep but now he really wants to sleep and he can't. Poor thing. The other kids are falling into their 'staking' really easily and are a pleasure to be with mashaAllah. I would recommend that you all take a look at the Raising Godly Tomatoes site for parenting tips, it's fantastic and has worked a treat in this house. I never liked the ideas at first as I thought they were controlling but the more I read the more I began to understand that it is not about controlling but about getting your children to obey you whilst still allowing them room to grow as individuals. After all if our children can't obey their parents how will they manage to obey Allah's (subhanAllah wa ta'ala) commands. May Allah guide all our children to the best of mankind. Ameen.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Busy, busy, busy....

Wow, 10 days since my last post. Oops, sorry. We have been really busy over the last week or so and in addition I put my back out again which really put a spanner in the works. And what with the pollen count being so high I have been really, really, well, knackered - to be blunt.

What have we done....... Hmmm. Well, the first thing was that I got the dates wrong for DH coming home but the extra week has gone quickly and he will be back on Wednesday inshaAllah - gave me some breathing space for getting the house clean (things have been very relaxed on the cooking & cleaning front since he's been away) but the kids were really disappointed.

We have had a relaxing week learning wise but not much 'written' work has gone on. The boys are 'realising' lots of things about times tables that they just come out with now and again which completely amazes. The boys have been swimming again and are doing very well mashaAllah, A even swam the whole 5 meters with his head under the water. The boys have also had a friend stay over for a couple of nights which has kept them occupied.

We also have also had a friend come over with her boy to play mashaAllah, she spent some time helping me 'cos of my dodgy back and today we went to do something for her and her family. This same friend is also moving house and of her new Muslim neighbours one offered to let her use his van and others helped her move furniture mashaAllah. In comparison I was in a supermarket car park recently and all the while I was parking my car and walking to the front of the store there was an old man sitting at the rear of his car on a walking frame. He obviously needed help but everyone was walking past him. I stopped to help him and he was so happy, a lovely old chap that felt he was being a burden and didn't like to ask for help.

It made me think, we are is so much of a rush to get everywhere and do everything that we are making our elders feel like a burden instead of embracing their knowledge and selflessness, we are not making time to carry out simple acts of human kindness that can make so much difference. We are all so caught up in consumerism and 'life' that we are forgetting our purpose for being here. Alhamdulillah, that we are all a part of this deen and part of this huge family that are there to help and support each other at all times inshaAllah. But let us also remember that the non Muslims also have a right over us and that helping, giving gifts/food etc, or even greeting the non Muslims in an open and kind manner is a good way of giving dawah. Allah guide all of us, Ameen.

Back to home schooling eh! Well, our caterpillars arrived at the back end of last week and they are doubling in size by the day mashaAllah. I can't wait for them to get ready to pupate.... but the kids don't seem too interested at the moment but I don't suppose caterpillars are very exciting to look at!

On a sad note, our oldest Triop died. The kids were very sad for a few seconds and the fought over who was going to flush it unceremoniously down the loo! The rest of the residents of our 'mini nature reserve' are doing well though and even the cress and grass is flourishing.

We also had a field trip to Brocks Hill Country Park. MashaAllah it's a beautiful park with lots to do and it even has an 'eco house'; built and run in a totally evironmentally friendly way. We met with our HE friends at about 12pm and the kids had a look at the pond and run up and down the hills and then we had some lunch. After lunch we did an orienteering course from a pack purchased at the Visitors Center, where the kids got to use some of the skills they have learned over the last few weeks during our geography sessions. They did get us lost, in a minor way, just once which was only tiresome because it was sooooo hot. We then made our way back to the center to meet up with Karen, our Ranger, who conducted the pond dipping course. The kids just loved it mashaAllah, and collected lots of stuff that they were not afraid to pick up and examine (much to the mums dismay!). They collected lots of stuff, even a few the ranger got excited about, and asked lots of good questions mashaAllah (I think it was a thumbs up for HE's on this trip). I can however state that a day in a country park can be a complete nightmare for hayfever sufferers. Be warned.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Never a dull moment...

Sorry its been so long since my last post, but it seems like I don't get a chance to sit down these days; but they do say that the devil makes work for idle hands so I should be pleased.

Well our Triops have hatched, what an exciting moment it is when you spot your first tiny body swimming around the tank. However, I was put off slightly when we went to visit a friend and we saw all the dead skins and stuff they shed and learnt that you had to change the water on a weekly basis. The kids even fished out an old skin to look at it under the microscope (but it was really cool that they could identify the cells!) Oh well, they are here now so I guess I had better get used to the idea! The ants are doing amazingly well and have built lots of tunnels mashaAllah. I must read the surah of the Ant with the kids whilst doing this little project. We had an ant escape today which caused a bit of a commotion but it all got sorted quite quickly alhamdulillah.

For our joint teaching session on Monday we covered 4 and 6 numbered grid references and ended up playing a really cool game with the map signs (drawn very poorly by me I'm afriad) put in a grid and the kids had to give me the grid reference or state the sign that was in the grid reference that I gave them..............Once they got the 4 digit grid references we added the last two and they all got it mashaAllah. They even asked for more mashaAllah, can you believe it? That's never happened before!

We also continued studying animal and plant cells, learning all the really long names of the cell organelles and finished by making a cell in a flan case. At the very end they had to label the parts of their cell (flan) before they could eat it (cruel I know!). I think this is just about it for cells and we will move back onto the main topic of plants next week inshaAllah, but it has been a fascinating detour! In art the kids made squared 'tiles' using positive and negative images - they really enjoyed it mashaAllah but I missed out (and I really wanted to make one too, pout!) so I am hoping to make some again over the weekend with the boys inshaAllah. Also on Monday our lovely new microscope did a back flip off the table and broke and the next day all our lovely new plant and insect slides arrived........... oh hum, that's life! I may be able to fix it inshaAllah. We also had swimming in the evening.

I love Mondays, I really enjoy the joint teaching and swimming but the next day I am shattered and we usually have the day off! The only work we do, if any, is what's left over from the lessons on Mondays.

The boys behaviour is improving all the time and they are getting more settled into our joint teaching sessions. A is really improving and seems to be more responsible all of a sudden, he is also coping quite well with his prayers mashaAllah. I am also trying to spend more time with them for chat, stories , play etc. InshaAllah as it really is beneficial for all of us. I got so used to not dealing with them when I was ill that I am still trying to fit dealing with them back into my routine. Apart from all of this I have a sore throat, ears and head so will pray Isha and then bed inshaAllah, only 11 days until DH comes home inshaAllah.


Friday, 6 June 2008

Butterfly Lapbook

I have uploaded some photos of DS2's butterfly lapbook if anyone wants to check them out inshaAllah, you can view them at Flickr

The whole unit is available to download free at

Plans are made to be broken!

Well today started off exactly as planned until 8.00am when the doorbell rang. There I stood in between the postman and four eager children, just waiting to get their hands on the newly arrived parcels. I knew, as I signed my name, that my plans for the day would be pushed aside as the children would be unable to concentrate with ants to re-house and a cool grown up microscope to 'play' with. Indeed, their little hands were struggling to open the parcels before I had even shut the front door.

First we set up our ant farm; collecting some soil from the garden, sieving it with our hands (have no idea where the sieve is!) and mixing it with the sand provided. Then adding water to just the right consistency. The funniest thing was getting the sand mix into the farm through the tiniest of gaps and then getting the ants into the farm from the little observation box they arrived in...... it would have been much easier if we had read the instructions that came with the ants but the kids couldn't remember where they had disregarded them (it's just like the male of species to go charging ahead without reading the instructions, even at this young age). Eventually I managed to suss it out and attached the chamber to the side for the ants to make their own way out inshaAllah. SubhanAllah, the kids have spent literally hours watching the ants working busily away. They have observed how ants care for each other, dig tunnels, protect each other and how inquisitive they are. If only I could get them to keep them in the dark for a while so that they can settle into their new home inshaAllah.

In between we have been collecting lots of stuff to look at under our microscope; a great eBay bargain. More blood, cheek and onions cells to be found. In addition we looked at the front and back of leaves, stamens, petals, hairs etc. We described, compared and discussed things that we saw whilst looking at specimens. I also purchased some ready made slides from the Internet for us to look at; fish (for our fish project), insects (including ants) and flower parts - can't wait for them to arrive inshaAllah. The boys also had a friend come and play for a few hours so lots of running about in the garden and building shelters with the branches from our old tree.

All good stuff but it doesn't sound like we have done much today but subhanAllah there has been so much learning going on. It always amazes me at how much you can do in one day..... and usually when it's unplanned!

Parenting is still stressing me out a bit, I have not had my medication for a while so I am in pain and feeling exhausted. Which in turn makes me very, very short tempered, especially without DH here to lighten the load. But I am trying and the boys still seem to be making progress mashaAllah. 'A' has really grown up and is enjoying being the only one allowed to stay up and pray Isha mashaAllah. Oh well, time to put the ants, and me, to bed!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The good days.....

Ahhhh, today was one of those home schooling days that went like a dream. Kids up early math and english out of the way and on to some fun stuff.....well almost. After a strop I got 'A' starting his Non Fiction book from Nelson Thorne - found out I had been doing it all wrong and he should have been doing one unit from the Fiction and then one from the Non Fiction.. oh well a short game of catch up to do there then! Other than that it went with a breeze alhamdulillah. The boys did some math worksheets that I made using the Schoolhouse Math Studio program - it's working out really well alhamdulillah. The boys work through the CGP math workout books and any problems that come across we do some extra worksheets printed up from Math Studio, it's so cool because it takes only a few minutes and I can tailor the worksheets to their needs. I must save up for the English one inshaAllah.

We also did some extra work on our plant topic which didn't get finished during our joint teaching sessions. DS2 and DS3 did some work on electrical circuits. DS1 started a story about Transformers. DS2 made a Transformers costume out of an old box and everybody made models using 'tongue depressors' - you know those things that the doctor holds your tongue down with when he wants to look down your throat, oh how I hate those things.

The kids spent some time in the garden; 'stole' the hose pipe and made a lagoon which they, but not I, loved. Although they were quite considerate and built a wall around my flowers so they wouldn't get waterlogged. I also spent time in the garden and because of the lovely weather managed to empty my wash basket - a feat not to be underestimated I assure you. I was surprised at how much the plants had grown in the last few weeks and made a promise to myself to get some topsoil and compost and sort out the garden, we have plants waiting to be planted, re potted and lots of weeding to do! After all that exertion I had a much needed afternoon nap with the smallest member of the family.

We ordered the ants for our Atlantis Nature Reserve today so I guess that means our project has officially started! The boys, led by Head Ranger 'A', have prepared the ant farm so I guess the next step is to get some ionised/distilled water to hatch our triops. The buzz of anticipation about this project is catching and I hope the eggs hatch or the kids will be terribly dissappointed.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Cells 'n' stuff

We had a week off last week and spent some time with friends playing and helping them set up their Triops tank. My kids were really taken with the Triops and begged so much for a tank of their own that I gave in and ordered them one from Amazon - I will post pictures of this project as it evolves inshaAllah. The same friend also found a website with complete lesson plans on Triops, and not being one to miss an opportunity I will of course be incorporating these into our Triops project. In our joint teaching session this week we continued with our plant topic and looked at plant and animal cells and the organelles (lit. mini organs) - that is such a cool word isn't it! The kids seem to be enjoying it mashaAllah. We compared plant and animal cells and made a venn diagram of their different/shared characteristics, the little ones did a cute little double flap book with cell pictures that they had to colour and underneath the flap they drew the basic shapes of each cell - that's a rectangle and circle for those of you that were asleep in biology class!

We also used the microscope to look at cheek cells (harvested from my very own cheek), onion cells (from my very own onion) and blood cells (yes, you've guessed it, from my very own finger). The kids thought I was incredibly brave scraping my cheek and pricking my finger and one of them said "aunty, now that you are soooo brave, why don't you go and take out the schools?" Although I was loathed to disappoint them about my apparent bravery I had to tell them that it would take more than me to change the Governments view of the Education System. Oh hum, some lessons need to be taught early.

The best bit of all was making edible cells in little sandwich bags. Different sweeties represented different parts of the cells; gobstopper = nucleus, jelly = cytoplasm, jelly tot type sweets = lysosomes, marshmellows = vacuole and sugar strands = mitochondria. The kids just loved it and the resulting mess was disgustingly sweet, so much so that even the kids couldn't eat it all in one go! Don't know how I'm gonna top that for next week!

I get such a buzz when the kids are learning and enjoying it and for a moment I can understand why people would want to teach. Then I think of the school system and how it squashes their enthusiasm and that longing to teach disappears, perhaps I should think about tutoring 'free sytle' when the kids are bigger. I love that they can see the beauty of Allah in everything and pray that it will strengthen them in their deen (religion). I love how they mention Allah's name when they see something that amazes them and pray that they can keep and deepen their love of Him via the amazement they feel. I pray that they never cease to be amazed at the splendor and complexity of Allah's creations, Ameen.

We are plodding ahead with the Nelson English for 'A', 100 Easy Steps to Reading for 'B' and Jolly Phonics for the little ones. Steaming ahead with maths for both boys and I also puchased the Maths Resource Studio from Schoolhouse Technologies and am completely in love with it. It enables you to generate math worksheet activities to cover a diverse range of math areas, you can include number banks, number lines, hints etc. What a great time saver! Let's face it, when your home educating anything that saves time is a bonus.

Behaviour is improving all round alhamdulillah. 'A' has now turned 10 and is attempting to pray his 5 daily prayers mashaAllah. Although I am experiencing difficulties in waking him for fajr, any ideas?

Dooms Day has arrived...

Well it finally happened! That moment I had always dreaded ever since placing that electronic data handling machine (otherwise known as a PC) on my desk..................... it crashed. That numb feeling when you turn on your PC and nothing is there is indescribable. I just sat. With jaw dropped. For about 30 minutes. Just looking at it. The slow realisation of all the information and hard work that I had lost.... then I texted my brother. As I always do in a PC crisis, he is very good and very patient and always manages to sort me and my PC out, God bless him. Thankfully he helped me find all my documents but I have had to spend the last few days reinstalling programmes and lamenting over my lost Email Address Book. But I have survived this minor setback relatively unscathed, although I'm now intending to back up my documents a little more often.

SubhanAllah, I was amazed at how much I rely on my PC without even realising it.... photos and valuable documents scanned and downloaded, kids home school work and presentations, study units, website info for work, research, lots of plans etc etc this list could go on forever. How did it all happen? I don't think I like depending on a huge lump of plastic and metal like that but how can you get away from it? If you have any ideas let me know inshaAllah. In the meantime I will continue as normal and you lucky things (not) get to read my literary ramblings again.

As a Muslim I should be relying only on Allah and not on these physical 'things' that seem to control my life so much. Why do we panic so much about the things that happen we can't control? Allah help us to rely on Him only and be thankful for His provision inshaAllah. Make dua.

Well, that explains why I haven't written for a while but I am hoping to write more often as long as my PC doesn't sulk again inshaAllah. Apologies.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The only way is up!

So much seems to have happened in the last few days, so I will start at the very beginning missing out all the really boring stuff inshaAllah.

We have a sister that comes to the house on Sundays to teach me and the kids Quran and Tajweed, this is her 2nd week and things are going great. She is so patient and very good with the kids; using flash cards, singing nasheeds and even saves time to chat with them about their interests; this week they told her all about their dad and taught her some Turkish words mashaAllah.

On Mondays we have a joint teaching session with two other families to study Geography, Science and Art. This week we played bingo using flash cards downloaded from Ordinance Survey with map symbols on them and designed our own 'map symbols' - although I am not sure A's 'Keep away from the battle between the Deceptacons and Autobots" symbol really counted. We made pictures using shapes for art, even the mums enjoyed that one, but not as much as last week when we made bookmarks using straight, zig zag, wavy and curved lines and then layered and glued them making these really effective bookmarks (see picture above). We are working from How to Teach Art to Children for our art sessions and they seem to be going well so far. For science, we continued our study on plants; we went through photosynthesis and did an experiement to show how water travels up to the leaves from the roots and another to demonstrate how the plant cells become flaccid when deprived of water (yes, that's what happening when we forget to water our plants), we also looked at the make up of the plant cell. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids love to learn about the natural world and I pray that it will bring them closer to Allah (swt) InshaAllah. I can't wait until next week when we get to make edible plant and animal cells in sandwich bags. Yummy! I plan and teach for this subject and have decided that we are all going to do a lap book for this topic - I hope the children will all enjoy it InshaAllah.

Today, apart from maths and english, we made skeletons and talked about the skeletal system - totally unplanned, but thats home education for ya! We got the pattern for the model from The Giant Science Resource Book; one of my better buys! The model had a chest that opened up to show the lungs and heart and a skull that swung up to reveal the brain and eyes... the kids thought it was so cool. We ended up having a conversation about how Allah put the heart in such a protective place and that we should also protect our hearts by doing good deeds, keeping away from bad speech and memorising/reading the Holy Quran.

On the parenting front things are definately looking up! It is amazing how quickly the children adapt and respond to new situations. In the last few days I have been trying not to respond to any whinging or moaning, I can't say that it has been easy and there is still room for improvement but it's greatly improved! They even sat better (I think) during our joint teaching sessions. It's so hard not to give in when your feeling tired but it's really worth the effort inshaAllah. I also feel that the kids are really benefitting from being taught by other people it has really helped with their adab (manners) and their concentration. It is also helpful for them to see other children doing their work without any problems and that it's not just their ogre of a mum that makes them work sooooo hard. I feel it has also shown them that although they are very intelligent and more advanced than their friends in some areas they have lots to learn from their friends in others. It has been a very humbling experience for them and inshaAllah they can use these experiences to help them grow as people and mu'mins (believers).

Well a productive few days I think, lets hope we can continue in this way inshaAllah; please make dua.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Teeny Tiny Baby Steps......

Well today was a mini success I think, although it didn't go quite to plan. Everyone woke up really late so I was chasing my tail all morning and we didn't get to start lessons until after lunch (which was a new Biriyani recipe I was trying out and managed to burn!). So much for early mornings and bright new starts!

Kids are reacting to the new plans as expected but we did get straight down to work this morning and got our maths and english done. 'B' noticed he was almost at the end of his math workbook and decided to do an extra three lessons just to get it finished.............. I felt so sorry for him when he noticed an extra lesson tucked away at the back, oh well can't have everything. We even managed to fit in our Arabic practice.

'A' has been my biggest challenge today pushing the boundaries all the way.... the others seem to be relishing the extra time with mum and enjoying their extra work. I want to do so much more interesting stuff with them but feel we need to get the basic Math and English done first. I have tried it the other way round before but they welshed on the deal........oh hum!

Well, I'm off for an early night so that I can wake up all bright and early for our next baby step tomorrow inshaAllah.

Friday, 23 May 2008

New beginnings.....

Well, here we are at a new beginning for us as a family and in our home schooling.

You see, I have been ill for a few years and our home life and home education has suffered quite a bit... the extent of which is only just beginning to become apparent to me! But, Alhamdulillah I am now almost back to normal and things are about to change! I thought this would be a good medium for us to log our journey back to normality; our progress, achievements and pitfalls along the way and share our new journey into home education.

The kids got away with lots of stuff when I was ill in terms of their education and discipline..... The whole family slipped into bad habits because of the stress and our relationships have suffered, there was no structure or routine in our daily lives or the childrens' education. The whole family needs to be reigned in; new rules laid down and new routines implemented and it's not going to be easy! I sense there may be a rebellion from the smaller members of the family but DH is abroad at the moment so it's a fantastic opportunity to implement change. Once we are all settled in a routine I hope, InshaAllah, that DH will slip into the new us quite easily on his return.

I have decided to adopt a semi-structured approch to our schooling which doesn't seem to be going down too well at the moment, but hey! It looks something like this:

Islamic Studies
We have just started using a series of teaching books from the 'Islamic Education Organisation of Southern Africa'. They are a brilliant series of books and we do a different subject each day. The books are: Tahdhib (Islamic Manners); Hifz; Fiqh & Islamic Teachings; Ahadith and Islamic History (starting with the seerah of our Beloved Prophet sallalahu alaihe wassalaam). Alhamduillah, we have a teacher that comes to the house to teach Quran and Tajweed to both me and the children. I am currently learning Arabic language which I plan to teach the children myself once they are reading fluently, in the meantime I am just introducing new vocabularly words to the the children as they come up.

We do English every day using the Nelson Thorne English series. A friend introduced me to this series and it's great, it also means that I don't have to plan which is always a bonus. Each lesson builds on the last lesson and the amount and level of work increases as they work through the books. The structure of the lessons are a) story with comprehension, b) spelling and c) writing sentences. Any new concepts i.e. 'nouns', 'anyonyms' etc are explained as they come up. 'A' does one of these sections each day. It can be a bit repetitious so I am planning to introduce another aspect once we get into a routine inshaAllah. 'B' is working through 'How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' on a daily basis that also incorporates some handwriting practice. Two younger ones are working through the Jolly Phonics programme.

For math we do daily exercises using the CPG Math Workout Books with some verbal drills for times tables etc. If the children are stuck on anything I will prepare practice sheets and we will do more work on that topic until they understand fully and then move back on to the books. I do use lots of hands-on stuff i.e. Unifix cubes, coins, buttons etc for math as they find it easier to grasp new concepts once they can physically move, count or stack it etc.

Science, geography & art
My boys love science mashaAllah. We do a joint lesson for science, along with geography and art, with two other families on a Monday. However, as they love science soooo much I am also planning to do a project based science topic with them using the lap book approach.

We don't study history as a separate subject but just tend to include it as part of our lapbook projects as either a timeline or relevant person.

Design & Technology
D&T will not be a weekly lesson but as the kids just love it I hope to include maybe bi-weekly lessons inshaAllah. DS1 has done some great things with cams so far and it's pretty easy so much so that even I feel even my 5yr old could do it.

Well that's about it folks! These are my plans for the next few months inshaAllah along with a new disciplinary approach adapted from Raising Godly Tomatoes I am hoping to be 'cooking on gas' - as they say - very soon.

Watch this space!