Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Learning About Astronomy - the Planets

Our final astronomy topic was the planets. We started by reading these books about the planets which are great for children. Each book covers two planets.

Then we made posters with all the planets on. This was a lot of fun. The children were given a long, thin piece of black paper and circles of white paper of different sizes. They then used poster paints to paint each planet. They looked at pictures of the planets to help them do this.

As they painted, we talked about the different features of each planet. What colours were they? Were they made of gas or rock? Did they have any moons or rings?

Once the planets were dry, the children stuck them on the black paper in the correct order and put name labels on them. They also drew some stars around the planets and rings around the planets that have rings.

This was a really fun activity and produced lovely results that will look great displayed on the wall.

Check out our other astronomy topics. We have learnt about the Earth, the stars and the Moon.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Bilingual Language Activity - Finger Painting Wildlife

As you may know, we are a multicultural, multilingual family with quite a few different languages being spoken in our surroundings. As the children's father is from Turkey, Turkish is the main language we are teaching the children. It can be very difficult to teach the children a non-native language, and even more difficult to maintain it. Therefore, I am always on the look out for new ideas or thinking up creative ways to make language learning fun.

The weather has been glorious lately so we have been spending a lot of time outdoors. I try to encourage my children to participate in outdoor play activities as much as possible and prompt them to observe the environment around them. When we go out and about, I point out the flowers and wildlife that we encounter and encourage them to talk about their own observations. I thought it would be a good idea to start learning some more wildlife vocabulary in Turkish so we can use it on our outings, or even just in the garden.

I set up the activity outside on the patio. I placed a tuff tray on the ground with some A3 sheets of white paper on top. Then I squirted some poster paints on paper plates.

I told the children our aim was to make some wild animals using finger painting techniques. I told them to use the paints to do the shapes of the animals and we could draw the details in once the paint had dried.

The children were very excited about this activity and soon got stuck in. Here is D's picture after she had finished finger painting.

Here is R's attempt. I love to see the different ways they interpret the task.

K had a lot of fun swirling the paint around with his fingers.

Once the paint had dried, the children began to draw in the animals' features with black pen.

While they were doing this we spoke about all the different features each animal has. You can use vocabulary from the language you are learning to do this. We talked about what colours the animals were in Turkish. We also used Turkish body part vocabulary. 

Finally, we wrote down the names of the animals. The Turkish names are in red and the English names are in blue. It is not necessary to write the names in English as well, you could just write them in the language you are learning. However, as it can be quite difficult to tell from some of the drawings what the animals are, I thought it best to write down the names in both languages.

I will now display the posters on the wall for a while so the children can get familiar with the new vocabulary. They make such a bright and colourful display! 

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Learning about astronomy - the Earth

We have already learnt about the stars, the Moon and planets. Our next astronomy topic covered the Earth. As our planet, the Earth is something we all know a lot about. We started by thinking about all the things we love about our planet. 

D drew the above picture showing what she loves about our world.

Next, we spoke about life on Earth and how it is the only planet which has life on it, as far as we know. We talked about what is needed for life to exist. We planted some seeds to see how they would grow.

We planted the seeds in glass pots so we could watch the roots grow.

We put the pots on the windowsill and it was fascinating to see how they grew. The children enjoyed watering them every day and studied them for signs of growth.

Next, we talked about how there may be life on other planets that we haven't yet discovered. We used play dough to model what life might look like on other planets.

We then used modelling clay to make some keepsakes. D carved the Earth in the middle of the keepsake and wrote,' I (heart) our Earth 2017'.

This is R's attempt. I am not quite sure what it is supposed to be but I think there is some lightning at the top!

When the clay keepsakes were dry, the children painted them with poster paints. Then we threaded some string through the hole at the top to hang them up.

The children have now hung these up in their bedrooms. They make a lovely, bright and colourful decoration!

Then we made models to show how the Earth travels around the Sun and the Moon travels around the Earth. 

I explained how the Earth takes 365 days, one year, to travel around the Sun. The Moon takes 28 or 29 days to travel around the Earth and this is roughly how long a month is.

Finally, we learnt about day and night. To do this we created a 3D model of the Earth out of papier mache. I gave the children a balloon and lots of strips of newspaper and they had great fun sticking the paper onto the balloon.

Once it was dry, they painted it to look like the Earth.

Here is the finished Earth.

Next, I found a cardboard box and cut off some of the sides. Then I asked the children to paint one half black and one half blue. 

Once it was dry, the children painted clouds on the blue sky side and stars on the black night side. 

I cut a round hole out of the blue sky side of the box and pushed the end of a torch though it to make the Sun.

Finally, we stuck a bamboo skewer into the Earth and secured it to the base of the box with some blue tac. The Earth could easily turn round on the bamboo skewer so we could watch how this causes parts of the Earth to be in lit up with sunlight (daytime) while other parts are in the dark (nighttime). It helped to draw a coloured dot or place a sticker somewhere on the Earth and watch how it moved from being facing the Sun to facing away from the Sun. 

This aerial view shows more clearly how one side of the Earth is light and the other side is dark. This model made it so easy for the children to understand about day and night.

Brilliant blog posts on

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Celebrating Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr is a special night for Muslims around the world. It is the night of power when Allah revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. We do not know the exact date of Laylat al-Qadr, we only know that it is one of the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan and it is an odd numbered night (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th). This night is very special because it is said to be worth as much as 1000 months, or 83 years. The angels come down from the heavens and are among us, although we cannot see them. Muslims carry out lots of acts of worship during the last 10 days of Ramadan in the hope of gaining the blessings of the night of power. They pray, read Quran, make dua and do other acts of worship.

The Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad while he was in the Cave of Hira in Mecca. He would spend the whole of the month of Ramadan in the cave in solitude, thinking and praying. One night, the Angel Jibreel came to him and said, "Recite!" He explained that he did not know how or what to recite. Again the Angel said to him, "Recite" and he started to recite the first verses of the Quran.  


The children coloured in some worksheets about the Quran and the cave of Hira and I told them the story of the first revelation. I got the worksheets from this book of Ramadan activities for children. It is an excellent book for young children and we have been using it a lot this Ramadan.

Next, we painted some glass jars to use as candle holders. The children decided to use glitter glue to paint their jars. We made the glitter glue ourselves by mixing some glitter with PVA glue. 

The children each chose a jar and got stuck in with painting.

The look of concentration on their faces!

The finished jars looked fantastic!

We had these beeswax candles the children had made on a recent workshop on bees. I thought these would be perfect to place in our glass jars.

To stick the candles to the base of the jars, we lit the candle and allowed some drops of hot wax to fall to the base of the jars. Then we stuck the candles onto the hot wax. It cooled quickly and secured the candles to the base.

The children asked to do more painting with glitter glue so we then made some telescopes out of cardboard tubes. These are to look out for the Ramadan moon at night.

When the glitter glue had dried, the children stuck little star stickers on their telescopes.

I wanted to make this night really special, one that the children would remember, so we then decided to bake some cookies to eat during our celebrations. We do a lot of baking and it is something the children and I really enjoy.

Here are the finished cookies. Don't they look delicious!

After dinner, it was time to set up. We put up a tent to represent the cave of Hira. We placed some comfy floor cushions inside the tent and our creations outside it.

We had the cookies and some pineapple to snack on while we read stories about Ramadan and Laylat al-Qadr.

We lit the candles in the jars which created a lovely atmosphere.

We read a wonderful book called Ramadan moon which is all about the excitement of waiting and watching for the moon so we know when Ramadan will begin and when Eid day will be.

We also had our moon phase dial, which we had made for our Moon project, so we could see which phase the moon was in that night. Take a look at this post to see how we learnt about the Moon and its phases.

The children looked through their telescopes to see if they could spot the moon. Unfortunately, they didn't spot it that night as it was still too light and they became too tired to stay up until it got dark.

I explained to the children that on Laylat al-Qadr it is important to make dua. We looked at the book, 'Duas for kids' and talked about the dua 'Alhamdulillah' in particular. Alhamdulillah means 'praise be to Allah' and we use it to thank Allah for what he has given us. I asked the children what they were thankful for and D made this wonderful poster about all the things she is thankful for.

To finish off our celebrations, we played some nasheeds, Islamic songs, and the children had fun singing and dancing. We had so much fun celebrating Laylat al-Qadr and I will leave the tent up for the next few days so we can celebrate again if the children would like. I think this will become a Ramadan tradition for us, a tradition that will continue for years to come!

Have you ever celebrated Laylat al-Qadr with your children?

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