Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Best Nest

Have you ever felt discontent with what you have, sought out something new, only to realize the old thing was best for you? This was the plight of Mr. Bird and Mrs. Bird as they set off to seek 'The Best Nest' (by P. D. Eastman). The story also led us to discuss the origins of the Adhaan, Alhumdulillah.

Keeping our sunny summer days in view, the Bookworms set out to make their own sun visors. This was done by cutting coloured foam sheets, punching holes at its ends and stringing a piece of elastic through it. The children then decorated them with glitter glue, bits of foam sheets and markers, Mash'Allah.

Keeping the soon to be starting month of Ramadan in mind, Isa read an article he had written about the month to his friends for "Show and Tell", Masha'Allah. He has offered his friends' to view it online at this address:

An update to last week's activity:

Alhumdulillah, moong beans now have stems and leaves

plants in TAC have flowered Masha'Allah!

 We will be holding our next session after Eid Insha'Allah. May Allah SWT make the month of Ramadan a source of reward and benefit for all of us. Aameen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A visit from Our Book Worm Club Dadi; Shamsa Kazmi

We need trees and as city dwellers we often consider them simply a part of the landscape decorating the streets and people's homes. Sabheen Aunty read us a story about a girl who valued them as friends. The story about Meera is based on a true incident, about an unschooled girl who loved to learn from her surroundings in a village in India. Amongst her favourite haunts was a copse of trees which she aptly named Nani, Bahlu and Chotu.One day a group of city people arrive with machinery to cut away the trees, they only valued them as expensive building material. Meera rushed to intervene and seeing her determination and passion for the trees she loved, the village adults are compelled to act too, as do the city people. The story ended by giving all the club members a renewed appreciation for trees and throughout the reading the children discussed the different aspects of these creations of Allah SWT that make them so important to our lives.

TAC made by Shamsa Aunty
People and plants coexist; as plants cleanse the air for us and trees grip the soil keeping necessary soil firm for our use, we have a responsibility to care for them too. This was one of the things learnt from the activity conducted by Aunty Shamsa Kazmi ( the Bint Absar's Dadimaa, Masha'Allah). Shamsa Aunty demonstrated how to build an TerraAqua Column (TAC) and then guide the group as the children and mothers worked together in groups to put it together.

Handout of instructions to make TAC
 Shamsa Aunty distributed hand outs with instructions to guide the work. First she cut a bottle so that its upper half with its neck could be inverted to sit inside the lower tube. The base of the bottle was then cut and to make it a tube. the base of another bottle was cut and the first bottle tube with the inverted bottle neck were inserted into it to make a  column.

Moong Beans germinated overnight in a damp towel by Shamsa Aunty

The lower chamber of the column was filled with water, the inverted bottle neck would hold the soil, plants and germinated seeds, also provided by the Kazmi family, Masha'Allah. Shamsa aunty made a hole in the bottle cap with a heated knife and then inserted a wet drawstring through it. This drawstring acts like a wick, it runs through the entire column; absorbing the water from the bottom chamber and as it passes through the soil the roots of the plant and the soil absorb the water.

soil and saplings courtesy the Kazmi Family

The activity was very interactive as Shamsa Aunty discussed each step with the group, the main variables involved in the column (water, soil and plants) and suggested how they can be changed to observe  and measure the effects of the changes; using salt water, different types of soil sand various plants.

TAC prepared by children

TAC with drawstring leading into the water chamber
Masha'Allah the Book Club members enjoyed the hands on activity and wished that Shamsa Aunty could visit us again and teach us more. She will be returning to her home outside the country soon, but as she is now our Honorary Book Worm Club Dadi, we look forward to her next visit Insha'Allah.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mirchi Barai Samosas (Spicy Samosas)

Today's session was a real "treat". To begin with, the book (Mirchi Barai Samosai) was a story about two boys who help their mother prepare samosas for tea. Things seem to go fine until the boys accidentally spill too much chillies powder into the mixture (while their mother was attending to a phone call). The boys keep quiet about their mistake and anxiously await the results of the affair when guests arrive for tea.

The book gave the mothers an opportunity to discuss how we should entertain guests; as Muslims our guests have rights on us. Lubna Aunty and Ummibaps demonstrated how not to treat a guest. A story from the lives of the Sahabah was also recalled; where a Sahabah (Abu Talha RA) brought one of the Prophet SAW guest home. Unfortunately he did not have much food in the house to serve him and so he and his wife put the children to sleep and under the pretence of adjusting the lantern turned off the light. They then served the meal in complete darkness and pretended to eat, allowing their guest to eat his fill. The next day our Prophet SAW greeted the Sahabah with the good news of Allah SWT pleasure of his treatment of the guest. Alhumdulillah.

Mashing and Mixing
Following the discussion the Book Worm Club members headed to the kitchen to prepare their treat; home made samosas. The children mashed potatoes with forks and their hands adding salt and zeera (cumin) powder and a dash of coarsely ground red chillies, while the mothers supervised and aided as necessary. Some kalonji was added to the potato mixture too.

Preparing dough for samosa pastry

 The eldest two girls Emaan bint Absar and Eman Bint Awais prepared the pastry kneading flour, oil, salt and water together.

preparing dough balls
rolling out dough balls
Once the flour was ready, Lubna Aunty demonstrated how to make little balls of dough and roll it out into a circle, then filling it with the potato mixture and sealing the flour with a little water into small semi circles. Masha'Allah each child made a ball and took turns to use the single rolling pin and board. as the boys worked with the board first, the girls, under Sabheen Aunty's guidance, began rolling out their samosas in a plate using half a marble 'dasta'.
potato filling ready

good old fashioned ingenuity; making do with what you have
adding filling
Ready to Fry

samosas being fried
As the samosas were prepared Sakina Aunty fried them and the hot samosas were served alongside the other snacks. Masha'Allah the mothers were impressed by the childrens' patience and ability as most of them managed to roll out neat circles of the dough. Everyone enjoyed the tasty samosas and we mothers had the additional pleasure today of  "having our children feed us", Masha'Allah.

Ready to Eat!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Precious Water

We began this session of our Book Worm Club with "Show and Tell", where our member Saaim Saadi shared his project of dinosaurs. He had made a 3D display of dinosaurs in the wild (all by himself Masha'Allah!), as his tyrannosaurus Rex stood menacing to one side and the Dinonychus who moved in herds stood close by. His replica of a Ankylosaurus, with it scaly back and block end tail was the most fascinating model, Saaim explained how it used its tail to hit meat eating dinosaurs who tried to hurt it.The children and mothers alike were impressed as he recounted their names, their eating preferences and then answered questions.

For more information on these ancient creatures do get in touch with Saaim.

Mysterious Costume

Next Umm BAPs appeared dressed in blue. The children tried to guess what she was trying to depict (someone thought she looked like a penguin) but they couldn't figure it out, so she decided to read a book to help them guess.

The book "The Water Hole" displayed the various animals that visit a waterhole and their reactions to what was happening to the water, as it slowly disappeared......the pictures helped the children guess that Umm BAPs was pretending to be a drop of water.

Following the story the book club members were reminded of how living things drink water. Imaan pointed out how our bodies consist of 72 per cent water and Lubna Aunty explained how cucumbers have 99 percent water. Aisha Aunty told us that watermelon has 97 percent water content and Alhumdulillah we all agreed that it is one of Allah SWT blessings to us that the most fleshiest and juiciest fruit are in season during the summer months, when we need to increase our water consumption.

We agreed that water is truly precious and we ought to show Allah SWT our gratitude for it. Umm BAPs then read us another book. "Precious Water; A Book of Thanks" reminded us how all living things need water to survive.

Following the story, Umm BAPs spoke of Allah's warning in Surah Mulk, that if all the water in the land were to sink away who could then retrieve it? Though water is replenished through the water cycle, each drop of water and even the water cycle itself, has been provided to us by Allah SWT alone.

With that in mind we discussed the various habits we could adopt to conserve water Insha'Allah. The children offered many suggestions and even the mothers shared their tried and tested practices.

Finally, before the snack, each family received a drop shaped paper, to take home, to develop their own personal pledge and course of action to conserve water, Insha'Allah.