Assalamo alaykum and welcome.
It is our most special time of the year.
As Muslim parents, we want to nurture in our children this powerful association to Ramadan so, from a few months before, the ideas start being thrown around on how to meaningfully mark this precious month.
No two Ramadans are ever the same but, in our household, there has been a constant presence every Ramadan for the last few years: The Ramadan mailbox (more info on what used to go inside it when the boys were younger HERE).
Everyday the boys would run to it as soon as they got up in the morning.
But what had started as a purely educational endeavor has, with time, become a materialistic PAIN. I started introducing a small toy the first day of Ramadan and then every Friday. Last year they had some sort of tat from an online pound shop every single day.
Meaningful and Minimal
I like to give my children something that entertains them; we know that it was the practice of the Sahabah to distract fasting children with simple toys when they became hungry. And it surely works, alhamdulillah. However, this year I will be aiming to a MINIMAL spend (to NO SPEND) Ramadan preparation for my children’s activities. The fun stuff insha’Allah. My main reasons are:
- to make better use of our money, and
- to reduce the amount of junk in my house, not increase it!
All this without disappointing the kids of course.
They will be informed about the change of direction their beloved Ramadan mailbox is taking, and it will still be great fun, insha’Allah.
They won’t be simply handed some play thing: they will be given a chance to do something fun in which we can all participate, insha’Allah.
With some careful planning we can keep the expenditure to a bare minimum (or spend nothing at all!); the easiest way to achieve this is to use what we already have available in the house.
Is it really NO SPEND?
It can be if you want it to be.
The point of the exercise is NOT to think of all the cool activities we would like to do in our homeschool and then shop for them. Rather, the opposite: see what you already have available and then find activities to use it in a fun, educational or meaningful way.
You might still need to spend something if you decide to do so.
For example, if you think everybody would love making things out of clay, and you don’t have any, then I am not suggesting you go dig up some soil from the stickiest corner of your garden. Buy clay.
However, you might have some hobbies or occasionally do crafts and have some materials lying around or stashed away somewhere (which homeschooling mom doesn’t???).
If you knit and have bags of leftover yarns, look for some cool projects that your children could make using those, instead of using the clay everyday and therefore needing to buy a truckload of it.
Reduce the shopping list to the bare minimum: don’t come up with more than 1 or 2 projects for which you will need specific tools and materials that you will have to spend on.
If you think something is worth buying for your homeschool (or for the experience of it), buy it. But be moderate with it.
The point is to save money by not buying what we don’t need. You could go to an art supply shop and go crazy, or go online and buy a boxful of craft kits just because they are on sale, but that would be a whole other type of exercise!
Coming up with a list of 30 activities, one for each day, can seem like a huge task, so I tried to break down the planning process into manageable bites. Read on, and let’s make this Ramadan special for our children, bi-idhnillah.
1. Make an inventory
In order to use what you already have, you must first know what you have.
Rummage through all your craft supplies, make a list of anything for your kids that you bought a surplus of and might have stashed away. Look everywhere for something that could be painted/ upcycled/ used in a DIY game.
You can also ask any crafty auntie, grandma, friend or neighbour if they have scraps of materials they are happy to get rid of.
You could include:
- Craft materials
- Art supplies
- Toys/books you have but the children have never seen
- Toys/books that the children have forgotten about
- Toys you already own but can put a twist on
- DIY toys out of recycling
- Books you own and that you can create activities for
- Magazines (ask on buy/sell communities)
- Board games (there is a lot of free printable ones online)
- Easy, kid friendly recipes
- Good deeds ideas
- Ideas on how to write a letter to someone
- Receiving an encouraging message from someone they love
- Experiences (such as outings and playdates)
And anything else that your family would enjoy!
2. Narrow down your categories
Are your children crazy about Legos? Are they into cooking? Engineering? Art? Gardening? Board games? Jewellery making? Drawing comics?… whatever they like to do for fun, or whatever new activity you think they would like to pick up, it can be broken down in a series of small, manageable activities.
I suggest to have a few different categories for variety and to maintain a certain surprise effect throughout the month, insha’Allah.
Make sure you have 30 in total. Job done, alhamdulillah!
If you are planning for different age groups, keep in mind that not all activities could be suitable for all of your children. You may need to adapt them to suit younger ones.
In order to keep this as easy and manageable as possible for you, I recommend to avoid having to come up with alternatives for different age groups as much as possible; rather, each child can do the one designed project as well as they can or with as much input as they need from you.
For example, the only activities that I really don’t want Miss3 to be involved with are the one involving button batteries (she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore but I am nervous about that) and the pom pom hair clips making, because it will be her Eid present from her brothers insha’Allah, so it needs to be kept secret. On those 2 occasions she’ll have something else to do.
It is unlikely that she will care to take part in a Lego STEM challenge, but she will have her own baseplate to build what she wants and I expect she will enjoy rummaging madly through the bricks like her brothers.
3. Hit Pinterest
What if you know your child would enjoy hand sewing but you don’t know the first thing about it? One of the greatest advantages of the digital age we live in is that access to free learning is probably greater than it has ever been.
Pinterest is a brilliant tool for inspiration. Search for “beginner projects” in whatever craft or field you think your child would enjoy and create a board to keep all relevant results.
I make a Pinterest board every Ramadan (which, for sentimental reasons, I can never seem to delete afterwards…).
Here is my Ramadan 1440 board, if you want to have a peek.
You will find links to blog posts that also have video tutorials. If your children are small and you are completely clueless on how to build a raft with sticks or paint peg dolls, it is worth spending a little time to go through all information you have saved and educate yourself beforehand, so that things can go more smoothly when you present the activity.
If you only have older kids, it might be even more fun to learn together from scratch, insha’Allah.
4. Make a list of supplies
You now have 30 activities lined up, each will need supplies and, in order not to forget anything, I recommend compiling a master list of everything you will need for the whole month worth of activities.
I recommend printing out all the instructions first (this will also help you later on, so you won’t have to be fiddling with your mobile all the time as you do the activity); from each set of instruction, copy the list of things you will need.
To make this task easier (and – admittedly- because I thought it would be fun), I created a little printable checklist for your materials.
To download my FREE MATERIALS MASTERLIST printable, CLICK HERE
Then proceed to tick what you already have (which should be most things – insha’Allah!).
5. Assemble your stash
There might be some things (such as food items) that you will need to get at the last moment, but, other than those, I recommend getting everything ready before the start of Ramadan.
Gather everything you need and, if you can, put all the materials for a given activity in a separate bag (I am thinking ziplock kind freezer bags or sheet protectors for very small or very flat things), ready to open and go.
Obviously, if you need glue for 15 of the activities, I am not suggesting having 15 glue sticks, one in each bag; within reason, prepare it ahead of time as much as you can.
Keep all bags together and, of course, hide them well!
I ask Allah to let us all reach Ramadan and let us and our families take maximum benefit from it.
Have you got something special planned for your children this Ramadan?
Share it with us in the comments below!