Ramadan Quiz and Games

Ramadan’s fast approaching Inshallah.

My two very talented teenage nieces are helping at the local community  organizing an Islamic summer camp for kids aged 7 to 12. They have several lessons, games and activities planned. My daughter looks forward to the sessions with her Didi and Api. So one day they invited me to conduct a 45 minute session for ‘Sawm day’- fasting day.

So here are two activities I designed: a Ramadan quiz and a simple game of charades for the do’s and do nots of Ramadan and fasting. I hope you like them.

Ramadan Quiz (open link to download document)

Ramadan Charades: This would probably work better with younger kids, say ages 5 to 7?Or just as fillers.

Just like any other charades, I have put in some cues for things one must do or not do during Ramadan/ fasting. Actually, since most of these apply even to days outside Ramadan, they can be used whenever you would like some easy fun and good habit reinforcement.

Here are the ramadan charades. Simply cut along the lines, fold and place in a bowl. Ask the kids to come forward in groups of two or so and ask them to act out the memes. The rest of the kids guess the action and say whether its a ‘do’ or a ‘do not’.

Dear Emma Watson


Dear Emma Watson,

I have always loved your work. You clearly stood out as the most talented of the child actors when the Harry Potter movies were released. You were quite the natural, all effortless and with so much flair. Your Hermione was so strong, so brave and so full of grit.  Of course, you were playing the dream role -a feminist heroine penned by a feminist writer, and suddenly girls all over the globe had a new role model. You brought sass back in vogue. You were the heroine who relied on courage and knowledge rather than a pretty face, when it came to solving a problem, or even better, saving the world. As a young woman and then as a mother of a young girl, I was glad we had public figures who were more than just the sum of their body parts.

You carried your confidence and self assertiveness well beyond the Potter years. You advocated for women’s rights and were admired likewise. And then suddenly, you do a half naked cover for a fashion magazine. And then you go and justify it by saying that feminism is all about ‘choice’. Seriously, Emma?

So OK, yes, as an independent woman I need to be able to make my own choices. I am with you on that one. But does that absolve me from all the wrong choices? Even if they’re committed in the name of feminism? If that were the case,  Lindsay Lohan would have been the most ideal role model for all the 90’s teens. With all due respect to her situation at the time, she was not the kind of behavior we wanted our girls to emulate.

As women the world over are fighting against sexual objectification and fighting to be taken seriously, your cover seems tone deaf to the very cause you espouse. To quote you: “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.” 

We do not want to beat you with your own stick, Emma, we really don’t. But then again, we live in a world where women are frequently groped, females are secretly rated by male co workers according to their sex appeal and women face growing social pressure to either sport a certain ‘sexy’ look or be dismissed as hags. Heck, even an accomplished lawyer like Amal Clooney’s worth  only boiled down to how she carried her baby bump. You see the pattern here? If all this is unequivocally sexist, how is your provocative cover not?

You didn’t start these trends. No, you’re better than that, so I wont blame you for something you don’t deserve. But my dear, dear Emma, you are most surely perpetuating the same sexist tradition. Showing off your t*@s does NOT make you a feminist- a term you have publicly identified with for years. I agree with you on that feminism is NOT equal to man hating, but in my books feminism is NOT equal to man titillating either. And let’s face it, a (semi) nude cover DOES intend on titillating outcomes, whether you like to admit it or not.

Please, Emma, there are many young girls who look up to you. Girls who believe they can achieve anything they want to, even without having to flaunt their t*@s. We live in a milieu when it is not unheard of women being asked for sexual favors in return for what they deserve rightfully anyway. Please don’t make it OK for them to think they need to ‘sell’ their talents in more ways than one.

Summer Reading Camp Day 4

This post was long in coming, but a family vacation came up and things got delayed. However, now that I am Alhamdulillah refreshed, let’s go!


So this is how day four turned out:

Story telling with discussion: I picked another Brothers Grimm tale, ‘The House in the Wood’ from my Miles Kelly collection. The story involved some farm animals and old man with a really, really, long beard. To spruce up the telling a bit, I used my daughter’s toy figurines. I had the necessary animals and used a grandpa doll sans the long beard and asked the kids to imagine the facial hair 😉


Activity 1: The story had some vivid descriptions- the old man, a paradise like room that the heroine finds herself in, etc. I didn’t let the girls peek into the book’s pictures. Instead, after we had discussed all about the tale, I asked each to draw scenes from the story from their understanding of the plot and characters. It was interesting to see how they had visualized the narrative.


Activity 2: I adapted this activity on the silent letter ‘E’ from education.com. I used my daughter’s blackboard instead. Each girl got a simple word on the board (like cub), to which she had to add the ‘magical letter E’ with her special colored chalk (each girl was given a different color). She then had to read the new word (in this case, ‘cube’). So we had words like at, pin, bit, spin, etc.


And that was it. We did two activities and our one hour was up. Unfortunately we didn’t get any time for silent reading on this day, but I did ask the girls to take home some books from the ‘library’ to read at home.






Summer Reading Camp Day 3

So day three. We stuck to the original format for the hour long session as outlined here.

Story telling session: I read a Brother’s Grimm tale from ’50 Princess Stories’ called ‘The old woman in the wood.’ While I admit that princess stories are generally a great hit with girls, I TRY to look for plot lines that are more than just ‘damsels-in-distress-waiting-to-be-rescued’ narratives. OK maybe ONCE in a silly while it’s fine, but GENERALLY I consciously choose tales that have strong and independent female protagonists. Elsa, Anna and Merida over Snow White, Aurora and Belle ANYDAY. (For the uninitiated, those are the fabled Disney princesses; though I can’t see how anyone could miss that, even if they hadn’t watched the movies- EVERY single stationary or toy store literally SCREAMS at my daughter with their images.)

So even though this book offers me FIFTY story options to choose from, I still sift through them to select what I consider appropriate for her. I have an inquisitive sort of a kid (actually, who doesn’t?) and she keeps asking me questions about the plots and characters of the stories she likes, LONG after I have read them to her; so I figured, if she must ruminate over certain character traits anyway, why not let her ponder over themes of  bravery, grit, kindness OR strength too? (I would be hard pressed to find a character who had ALL those traits rolled in one!) And of course, the story should be entertaining too. That’s IMPORTANT or else I risk losing her attention completely.

This particular book has stories sorted under 5 themes: The Fairest of them all, Enchanting adventures, Gallant Girls and Brave Lasses, From Rags to Riches and Happily Ever After.

Generally I like to read stories from the ‘Gallant girls and Brave Lasses’ section, but this selected tale was from the ‘Rags to Riches’ one. The princess in this one was not particularly brave or resourceful, I will admit, but I picked it nevertheless simply because it sounded fun and well, it was a Brothers Grimm tale 🙂

Since it was day 3 of the ‘Camp’ already, some of the girls were opening up for a mini discussion after the story was read. Please bear in mind, English is not our first language, so sometimes it takes time for kids to make sense of the themes. Discussions, however brief, do help in comprehension.


We then did our 15 minutes of independent reading. I could already see a difference in the girls’ fluency levels. My daughter, for one, really wanted the ‘most number of stars’ against her name on the wall, so she put in more effort to read as many pages she could in the slot.

Finally we then did an literacy activity adopted from here on education.com. I fished out my daughter’s plastic bowling pin set, my friend Janina made cards with words on them and we stuck those ‘words’ on the pins. The girls took turns trying to knock down the pins with the ball, but they only got the ‘points’ when they successfully read the word on each of their fallen pins.

We put words with long vowels: ‘ea’, ‘oo’, ‘oa’, ‘ea’ and ‘ai’




Summer Reading Camp Day 2


Dramatic story telling: I have this collection of 50 silly stories from the Miles Kelly collection. It’s full of folk tales and popular fairy tales and what not. So I read them ‘How the dragon was tricked’ by Andrew Lang. It’s funny and has a plot that moves fast. The kids enjoyed listening about the trickster’s cunning.




We then followed it by the ‘Independent reading’ session. You don’t usually see a bunch of six year olds sit together and do nothing but read. Kids these days would much rather be plonked in front of some electronic device. This seemed like a refreshing change. 🙂


I then did this activity from education.com. Basically I printed out written drawing instructions and asked each kid to draw/color the picture according to what their blurb asked them to. I thought it would be rather simple, but no. Six year olds have a mind of their own and well, ‘sticking-to-the-plot’ isn’t really their forte 😛 Not just that, I realized how much the kids tend to just skim through what they read. So when the instruction clearly said ‘Draw TEN stars in your sky’, my daughter just drew 5 or so. When I pointed that out to her, she was like, “Oh! I didn’t read the ‘TEN'”.  *insert mommy’s exaggerated eye roll here*

Art based reading activities are my favorite and from experience I think the kids feel the same. The girls were ready to fish out their crayons at the drop of the hat. So far, so good!

See also Day 1 and Introduction to the camp

Summer Reading Camp 2016

IMG_20160423_151525797I will skip with the introductions for now. That’s what the ABOUT ME section is all about. However, I do want to document this mini summer reading camp I am doing for my 6 year old daughter and some of her neighborhood friends. Age group 6-7.5, give or take. I decided to start small. A small group, meeting for an hour for a stint of ten days. Two reasons:

#1: Her toddler brother won’t allow any commitment bigger than this.

#2: The daughter was a somewhat reluctant reader. I had introduced her to books even before she turned 2 and read to her diligently but all that had taken a backseat when baby n0. 2 arrived on the scene. That had to change. I always had visions of my daughter reading out story books fluently and with pleasure by the time she turned 6. So when her 6th birthday was around the corner, I thought this would be a good way to involve her friends and get them to motivate each other. Who says peer pressure is always a bad thing?

We are nearing the end of the ‘Camp’ and I can gratefully say there has been a marked spike in her interest level. She’s reading more books, more fluently, is more motivated and has begun picking books to read for pleasure. (Not to mention making earnest attempts to read sign boards, labels and cartons!)

Here’s how we did it. I will be posting each day’s activities under a separate post Inshalah, but here’s a gist.

We kept it simple. The sessions were broken down roughly like this:

15-20 minutes of story telling (by me; I try to use a lot of voice modulation, onomatopoeia and exaggerated gestures to keep the kids engaged. For non native learners I think non verbal cues are even more important; even if the kids are sufficiently comfortable with the target language.) This was followed by a brief discussion. Kids could ask questions, quip in with their own experiences or talk about their favorite part, general theme, etc.

15 minutes INDEPENDENT reading: Most people would think nothing really ‘happens’ in this slot. But personally (and as an English teacher) I believe this is the most HAPPENING part of all. Eventually that’s the point of any reading program: to create independent readers. I set up a mini ‘library’, mostly with my daughter’s books while some kids got their own books to add to it. Each kid chose a book of her choice and read as many pages as she could in 15 minutes. I counted how many pages each child read and marked that number on a progress chart against their name with a gold star. So by the end of the day, each child could see her reading ‘score’ on the chart.  My friend and I would help the kids with tough words they got stuck with. I can tell you this: NOTHING motivates a 6 year old more than the desire to get more ‘points’ on the wall than her friends! (And no, I don’t believe any kid was ‘traumatized’ by a poorer score. I kept telling them they each had to become the best reader THEY could be. And each day the ‘strugglers’ put in more effort to better their previous score.) Of course I kept this bit flexible. If the kids seemed to be enjoying an extension activity I would let them be but insist they finish at least ONE book at home.


20 minutes of some literacy based activity or game

5 minutes for each child to select a book from the ‘library’ that they could take home to read. If they finished the entire book by themselves at home, they were marked accordingly on the chart.