Islamic Art is a subject that is often overlooked when developing our curriculum, especially with today’s focus on technology. The arts are really essential for growing minds to help our children engage with their personal and cultural understanding. I can help build key skills such as critical and creative thinking as well as developing their fine and gross motor skills. Above all, taking some time to create something from the heart is a wonderful way to glorify Allah (SWT) who created us.
In Episode 85 of the Raising Mums podcast, I talk to Wajiha Khalil, creator, and teacher at Sacred Art Workshops.
Wajiha Khalil is a mother of three boys, a multidisciplinary artist, and a student of sacred knowledge. Through Sacred Art Workshops, she conveys Islamic knowledge to children through visual art and creative discovery. Her process strives to bring an integrated sense of understanding through engaging projects that create a memorable experience, not only beautiful art – but an inspired and curious heart.
Launch Your Homeschool is an online course that will hold your hand and walk you through the beginning stages of homeschooling, built upon the framework of the Charlotte Mason philosophy.
I teach you how to choose the right subjects for your homeschool, how to choose the right resources, and plan out your year to create a homeschool experience that aligns with the values and beliefs of your family. Whether you are homeschooling in the UK, or elsewhere in the world, this programme will help you give your children an incredible education at home.
I show you the essential teaching techniques that you’ll need to know to get started. There’s even an entire module on how to manage your time so you can still cook, keep the house tidy and take care of yourself, all whilst homeschooling your children!
Picture study is one of the easiest components of a Charlotte Mason education to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. You do not need to know anything yourself about art, or art history. I repeat …You do NOT need to know ANYTHING about art or art history to begin. All you need is knowledge of the method and a few worthy resources.
Why is Picture Study important?
In today’s society, the importance of the arts has been superseded by STEM and the other sciences. We have lost touch with the great artistic masters of past. Now, the masses only see fragments, distorted reproductions of the original genius of these men and women. For most of us, the only exposure we get to great art might be a coffee shop using the Mona Lisa in it’s logo, or a travel advert for Japan using a work of art by Hokusai.
Many of us will have heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, or Claude Monet, and will have seen their art used in advertisements on billboards and the TV, but have little to draw upon from our own education.
Just as the great works of literature give us glimpses in the the mighty thoughts of the world’s great authors, so too picture study can give us insight into the ideas and minds of those artists. It puts children in touch with worthy ideas and inspires them with something more than modern life can offer.
” We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at a single picture.” – Charlotte Mason
Picture study offers our children a store of images in their mind, to balance out the media’s influence and attempt to monopolize their senses.
Picture study also:
Improves a child’s power of observation
Develop a sense of beauty
Connects them with an artist of a piece of art
Helps them to form opinion about art and their own taste in it
Encourages them to draw and be creative themselves
How to do Picture Study
From the ages of 6 to 15 Charlotte Mason recommended that children become acquainted with at least thirty of the world’s most famous artists.
I have filmed a short video, showing glimpses into our own Picture study lesson, in the hope that it will make what is written here clearer.
WATCH THIS VIDEO!
First begin by choosing the artist you wish them to study. In our first year, we began with Leonardo Da Vinci as it was easy to find the resources we needed, and I was slightly familiar with his work.
However, please remember, you do not need to know ANYTHING about the artist before you begin. In fact, it will only add to your enjoyment of this subject, as you find yourself learning alongside the children.
Examples of artists to study include:
Leonardo Da Vinci
The next step is to find six works of art by that artist for that school term, and studying three different artists per year.
Display one of those pieces in front of your children, and ask them to look at it closely, in silence. Allow them plenty of time to, not only absorb it, but to think and ponder over it. Then, when they are finished, hide the art from them and ask them to describe it.
Try your best not to prompt them with leading questions, like “What colour was her dress?” or “What was the weather like?” Just simply say, ” Tell me about it.” They will almost certainly not remember everything, but they don’t need to. By narrating in this way, they are performing a much higher thought process; of observing, processing, recalling and articulating those thoughts in their own words.
If you prompt too much, you are in danger of having your children become dependent on your questions, like we often see in school comprehension worksheets and multiple choice questions. Allow your children to think for themselves.
If your child is not used to narration, and is struggling to recall it or articulate his thoughts, then let him see the painting as he narrates. It is difficult skill to develop, so take it slow and try to keep the atmosphere joyful.
For older children, you can allow them to sketch from memory what they saw if they would like to.
The next step is to display that piece of art somewhere in your home so that the children can see it frequently through out their day.
The following week, repeat the process with the SAME piece of art. You will hopefully find that your children have more to say!
It can be helpful to tell the children a little about the artist or the painting before you begin. If the painting is about a story, it can be helpful to tell your children this story before you begin the picture study. Likewise, knowing a little more about the artist they are studying, will help them to form connections with him/her. Knowing more about the mind behind the art will encourage your children to look more closely at the work itself.
After 2 weeks, switch to another piece art by that same artist. In so doing, your child will some to know at least 6 of the artist’s works each term. That’s an incredible achievement!
Picture Study Resources
For the art prints themselves, I would always recommend getting the largest prints you can find and display easily.
Postcards and images in art textbooks are often too small for multiple children to see at once, and inevitably loose the finer details.
We personally use wall calendars of a specific artist. These tend to be much cheaper than books, the prints are a good size, and they are easy to display on our kitchen wall. Here are a few examples of some we have used:
Children’s artist biographies can also be found at the library, but I would strongly recommend pre-reading these so you can omit the less-wholesome parts of the artist’s lives that young children do not need to know about. However, it may be worthwhile older children knowing the full picture, as these parts of their lives will have inevitably influenced their art, and will make for meaningful discussions with you.
Here are a few artist biographies, in the form of living books, that we have enjoyed with our young children:
From the age of fourteen, art history is incorporated into the Charlotte Mason curriculum, where children learn how the artist worldview would have influenced their art.
The picture study lessons will take no more that 10-15 minutes a week, but the influence that they have will be lifelong. To be able to store “a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of [their] imagination” is a worthy endeavor.
It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.
Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.
Monday 2nd October
This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!
Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”
We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.
Tuesday 3rd October
The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!
We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!
Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.
It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.
We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.
The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.
Thursday 5th October
Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.
We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!
After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!
Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.
There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!
I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.
Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)
My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!
After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!
Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!
We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.
We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.
How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!
Finding arts and crafts activities for your children to do can be a challenge, especially if you’re not a “crafty” mum!
The Toucan Boxis a subscription service that delivers everything you need to your door, to create an fun art project!
The reason I wanted to try our the Toucan box, was for convenience! It can be challenging as a homeschooling mum, to find different art projects for my children to do, and then purchase all the supplies that it needs. The Toucan box promises to deliver everything I need to my door… so I had to try it out!
If you click on the links to Toucan box in this blog post or use my referral code, and then place an order, I will receive 50% off my next purchase.
What is a Toucan Box?
The Toucan box is a subscription service that delivers creative craft boxes to children aged 3-8 years old. The boxes come in 3 different sizes:
Petite: Provides everything you need to create an exciting activity. This box fit through the letter box and contains a activity book with puzzles, games, recipes and fun facts. This craft box is deliveredfortnightly.
Grande: Provides all the materials needed for 2 craft activity, as well as a children book that goes along with the theme of the box. This box also contains a parent card containing further ideas for activities and games. This box is delivered monthly.
Super: This box contains everything you child will need to complete 4 craft activities, along with a children’s book and the parent card. This box also comes monthly.
This boxes have been designed by educational experts, and are Montessori-inspired, to help develop a child’s key skills.
Toucan Box Unboxing
I decided to purchase the “Petite” box, just to try out the service and see what the craft activities were really like. I also really like the convenience of the petite box fitting through the letter-box, as we are often out during the afternoon when our postman arrives.
I received a FREE BOX along with my first order, and you can too if you CLICK HERE.
Before my children saw the boxes, I quickly filmed this un-boxing video for you!
The petite Toucan box really surprised me! The quality of the material were excellent, and the instructions were very clear. In this case, the Pirate-themed box actually contained 2 craft activities, when the it is only supposed to have 1, which was a lovely surprise!
Furthermore, the activities book also contained another craft activity to make a “pirate’s hook”. Although all the supplies were not included in the box, there were things we already had at home, like foil and glue! My son loved doing this craft, along with all the puzzles the book also contains.
What surprised me most about the Toucan box, is that it prompted an entire afternoon of imaginary play! My boys pretended their bunk-beds were a Pirate ship; even the sofa became a Pirate ship later in the day! They went out into the garden on a treasure hunt, they made pirate names for each other ….and the playing went on and on!
In my eyes, as a mother, that is the ultimate sign of success; that my children were so inspired by these craft activities, that they took them and the ideas they had learnt, into their imaginary world with them!
We are all really looking forward to the arrival of the nextToucan box!
If you would like to order a Toucan box for your family, CLICK HERE. By clicking on this link, you will also receive a FREE GIFT BOX along with your order.
Alternatively, type in the following code at the checkout, and you will receive your FREE GIFT BOX too: GEMMA-9E6X
Have you ever used a children’s subscription service? Would you recommend them?
Keeping up with the demands of creative kids can be difficult…would you agree?!?
Children are never too young to start learning Arabic! One of the first steps for children is to master the Arabic alphabet.
In our homeschool we like to find creative and fun ways for children to learn. Recently we decided to make cupcakes an decorate them with the Arabic letters. The kids loved this hands-on approach to learning and I think your family will too!
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Cooking together teaches your children important life skills, as does all the cleaning up afterwards! Younger children love mixing and pouring ingredients together, whilst the older children improve their maths skills by measuring out and weighing out the flour, butter and sugar.
Similarly, this tactile and sensory approach to learning was very successful in helping my younger children learn their Arabic alphabet. Not only does it require them to identify the letter in their mind, but also focus on how the letter is formed when making their own with icing.
Not only is this activity really fun, but it also works really well and is an effective way of teaching children the Arabic alphabet. ….And you get delicious cakes to enjoy afterwards too!
Arabic Alphabet Cupcakes
These cupcakes were very easy to make, and older children may be able to follow the recipe will minimal help from you!
I decided to top each cupcake with butter-cream icing, because it’s just so delicious! Then on top on that we added the Arabic letters, made from Ready-to-roll icing.
Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.
Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.
Charlotte Mason says:
The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.
~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316
Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?
We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.
Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:
Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
Practice fine motor skills
Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older
How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.
She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.
At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment
Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.
You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.
Simple sewing projects
Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.
The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.
Knit or crochet
I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.
If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.
Yarn or fabric dyeing
Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!
There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.
Advice for starting with handicrafts
While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.
Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.
And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?
Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.
Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.
What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?
Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
We have been learning about magnetism and this kit has been a fantastic resources. It contains all the specialist equipment you need for 33 experiments (including loads of different magnets, iron fillings, magnetic discs, a compass and loads more!) and a instruction manual.
The experiments in this particular science kit teach children the basic principles of what is magnetic, why its magnetic, how compasses work, and introduces electro-magnetism. There are also instructions for some fun games you can do with the magnets!
Migo and Ali: Love for the Prophets
My kids are really enjoying this collection of stories about the Prophets of Allah. This books contains stories about fifteen different Prophets (A.S.), with a large section at the back dedicated to stories about Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
The stories are short, well-written and each section end with a dialogue between Migo and Alias they talk about what they learnt.
The illustrations are beautiful! It is worth noting that there are no depictions of the Prophets or Sahaba in the pictures.
They have also made the effort to have the book approved by scholars of Islam.
This wonderful book is suitable for children aged 3-8, and is one of those books that your family will pick up again and again to read together.
In Our Muslim Homeschool, we have been making an effort to teach my youngest son the letters of the Arabic alphabet. In my quest to good educational resources, I was introduced to these worksheets by Gambian Mommy.
Ngaima Sesay designed and produced these worksheets, as she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of resources available to teach her own children Arabic.
As a homeschooling mum herself, she recognised the need for good quality teaching material, and set about producing an incredible selection of Arabic worksheets for other mothers.
The worksheets she has put together are brilliant! There is so much variety! Whether you child learns visually, or by writing, or is an auditory learner, there are worksheets for everyone! There are even games for the kinesthetic learners amongst us!
Some worksheets are in black and white, and others in colour…they’re so pretty! It is clear that a huge amount of time and thought that has gone into these worksheets.
Each pack has instructions on how to use them, a phonics section to help parents pronounce the letters correctly, and a dictionary section to explain the meanings of words.
If you are looking for interesting and fun ways to teach young children the Arabic alphabet, I would highly recommend you
on the Gambian Mommy storeon TeachersPayTeachers.com.
Alif Baa app
When I asked my 4 year-old son what he thought of this app he said, “It’s cool!”
I totally agree with him! The Alif Baa app teaches children the letters of the Arabic alphabet, as well as some Arabic vocabulary.
There are four games to chose from:
– Flashcard style game: Where cards with each letter are shown, and sounded out, along with a new vocabulary word .
– Find the letter: The game says a letter and the student has to find it in amongst the other letters.
–Put the letters in order: The student has to put the letters of the Arabic alphabet in order in the quickest time.
– Trace the Letters: Students are shown how to write each letter and then have to trace along the dotted lines.
This app is a wonderful way to make learning Arabic fun and enjoyable for young kids.
This week in Our Muslim Homeschool the boys have been learning to sew.They sewed these cute bee and ladybird toys. It was really easy and so much fun. Keep reading to see how they did it!
Ever since my 5-year-old learnt that Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) used to repair his own clothes, my son has wanted to sew!
I found these Sewing Craft Kits, made by Baker Ross, and the boys were so excited to get started!
Image from Amazon.co.uk
It included all the materials you needed to make both the ladybird and the bee including:
– Coloured felt
– Felt stickers
– Toy stuffing
The manufacturers recommend this kit for ages 5+, but you know if you child is capable or not. Use your own judgement. My 3-year-old surprised everyone by doing the bee almost entirely by himself….he’s a natural! mashAllah.
Sewing together the felt circles
Adding the felt stickers
This kit was PERFECT for little ones. The pre-punched holes made it easy to thread the needle through, the large plastic needle was safe, and the final product was SO CUTE!
If you wanted to, you could easily recreate this kit yourself, and purchase everything from your local craft shop.
Here’s quick an easy shark craft for your Preschool and Kindergarten kids. My son has been reading about sharks this week in our Muslim Homeschool…So we decided to make our own shark art activity. He loved it!
Its easy enough for young children to do, and the results are so cute!
If you have young children, who are crazy about sharks, they’ll love this craft activity!
– Paper Plates (3 per shark)
– White Paper
– Black Poster Paint
– Glue Stick
– Paint brushes
1. Paint two plates with the black paint and allow to dry.
2. Cut the remaining white plate in half and glue it to the bottom half of the painted plate.
3. Cut two eyes and a mouth from the white paper, and use your crayons to add details (teeth, pupils etc.)
4. Glue the eyes and mouth into place.
5. From the remaining black plate, cut out three fins and glue them onto your shark as shown in the picture below.
Please give this craft a try and let me know how you get on in the comments below, or post your photos online and tag me on Instagram, Twitteror Facebook. I’d love to see how your sharks turn out!
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