1. Diorama – This is a miniature scale landscape of any kind (or sea-scape) that’s recreated inside a box – any size or type of box is fine and the model can be made up of egg cartons, cardboard, paper, boxes, string, crayons, paint, glue, etc. Examples can include and aquarium or under-water scene using shells, paper fish hanging with string, tissue-paper sea-weed or pretty pebbles or a snow scene with an igloo and cotton wool for snow. Numbers 5 and 6 below are really variations on this theme.
2. Nature Diary – I just love this idea, every kid should be encouraged to get in touch with nature for its spiritual, psychological, mental and physical development benefits. The Charlotte Mason Method of education is big on keeping a nature diary and I love the old-fashioned idea of Victorian children taking a diary on their walks, drawing in the plants, animals and weather that they see and experience. Other ways to incorporate learning can include is to find the names of what you see and then label with their Latin names (as in the Classical educational method) – the secret to me is creating a sense of fun and wonder and of pride in learning new things.
3. Beading – I love making jewellery and often I use old bits I pick up in thrift shops and boot markets and then take apart. Sometimes these have beads that I don’t like or look a bit cheap, these go into a “bead box” with some string and threading elastic. If the kids are driving me mad, I take down the bead box and let them thread away to their hearts desire – a word of caution though, it might be an idea to agree who will tidy up after play is finished (I usually get fed up and threaten to hoover it all up). We also have to wait till Gorgeous is asleep because he would either strew the beads across the room or eat them. The boxes are available from shops like Woolworths for about £5 if you don’t normally accumulate the amount of junk I do
4. Tracing Leaves – everyone must have done this in primary school. You visit the park or your garden, pick up any leaves that look interesting or beautiful to you then place them under paper and rub over with a crayon. Little kids love this especially as it’s easy and they feel very impressed with the results. You’ll have to keep in mind though that you’ll never be able to leave the house again without your kids bringing home pockets and handfuls of leaves.
5. Shoe-Box Room – I remember making one of theses when I was about 10 using things from around the house for furniture. Material for carpet, left-over wall paper for the sides of the box, furniture made from random things (I recall using the round white plastic thing you get in the middle of take-way pizza as a little table), scraps of fabric, and Barbie’s furniture.
6. Miniature Garden – I had a go at this with Little Lady when she turned four and it was great fun. I stuck green paper to the bottom of a cardboard tray (the type that is the lid of a paper ream box) and let her go crazy with foil for a pond, shells, buttons, stickers, pebbles and other stuff from the garden. I also did this for a project in high school when I was about 9 and used moss, pebbles, twigs, pretty shells and whatever else I could find (or nick from someone’s front garden). I remember really enjoying it. For bigger children (or me), I really like the idea of a miniature Zen garden - which means you can use anything (sand, stones, shells) as long as it feels good to you.
7. Making Cards – I usually pick up blank cards with envelopes (in packs of 8) from the pound-shop and they often come with the trimmings to put together a design on your card, but colouring pencils and anything left around the house: tissue paper, buttons, pressed flowers, photo’s, pictures from old cards or magazines.
Little Man's Mothers Day card
8. Planting seeds to see what happens. This is a great way to learn the reward of patience and encourage long-term thinking. It’s also a practical way to reinforce the greatness of Allah (SWT) to little kids – they are amazed that Allah can make a plant grow from a little seed like that. Best time to pick up the seeds and pots is autumn, when the stores want to get rid of their gardening and summer stock. Easiest and quickest results come from sunflower, broad bean and coriander. The most enjoyable to grow are tomato and strawberry plants, because when you finally come to eating the fruit, the little ones will be thrilled that mum or dad is dishing up something they grew.
Little Lady's Daffodil grown in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care
9. Ramadan Crafts – This may seem like an indulgence at this special time of the Islamic year, but I have found that it is a nice way to help remind children that this time is different and that it has unique meanings and traditions. Most years I make "Ramadan Mubarah" stickers and get the kids to help stick them on sweets to give as gifts. This homeschooling site has lots of great ideas
10 Eid Crafts – Get the kids to make their own cards, create decorations you can put up and maybe even make simple gifts. The purpose is to create your own family Eid traditions that your children will cherish forever and pass to their own children. Think back to how positive childhood memories and customs become poignant and how comforting they are in times of need. I have an “Eid Mubarak” banner that gets dug out every year that the kids help me decorate. Little Lady and now Little Man also make cards for their grandparents. These crafts make a lovely, exciting, build-up to Eid day too.
(PS After the last few posts I feel like a Muslim Martha Stewart – I don’t have any shares though – honest)