Monday, April 30, 2012

A-Z Challenge: K is for The Keeping Quilt



Title: The Keeping Quilt

Author: Patricia Polacco

Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: Aladdin; May 1, 2001

Suitable for: 4 - 8

Themes/Topics: Quilts, Jews, Emigration and Immigration, Family Heirlooms, Family Traditions.

Opening:
When my Great-Gramma Anna came to America, she wore the same thick overcoat and big boots she had worn for farm work. But her family weren’t dirt farmers anymore.

Book Summary:
"We will make a quilt to help us always remember home," Anna's mother said. "It will be like heaving the family in back home Russia dance around us at night."

And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna's babushka, Uncle Vladimir's shirt, Aunt Havalah's nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha's become The Keeping Quilt,passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world.

Links to resources:
Carol Hurst has a wonderful list of activities and discussions points on her blog Find a wonderful online quiz here. Find more lesson ideas here

Why I like this book:
Patricia Polacco does an excellent job telling the tale of how her family heirloom, a quilt, was made and its history throughout the generations. It was a very touching story! I loved reading and watching the generations continue the tradition of passing on the quilt and how the marriage custom evolved keeping some of the same traditions but adding others to it. It was so beautiful! I think homemade heirlooms are a really neat way to pass along family traditions and history. Now I want to make a keeping quilt! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A-Z Challenge: J is for Jambo Means Hello



Title: Jambo Means Hello

Author: Muriel Feelings

Illustrator: Tom Feelings

Publisher: Puffin; July 15, 1992

Topic/Theme: Alphabet, Africa, African Culture, Swahili Language

Ages: 3 and up

Opening: A  arusi is a wedding.

Summary:
Jambo Means Hello is a fun alphabet that introduces basic Swahili vocabulary. The book gives a word in Swahili for each letter in the Swahili alphabet. The Swahili alphabet doesn't have the letters Q or X therefore only has 24 letters. Along with each word is a pronunciation key and a short paragraph telling a little bit about the word and its context in rural African society.

Resources:
Swahili is spoken widely in eastern Africa, can you find and name the countries on this map? Lesson plan that includes a word quilt activity Listen to a Swahili Folktale. Learn about Kenya. Kenyan flag and map coloring page.

Why I like this book:
This is a book I used to read as a kid. I loved it. I memorized every word and considered myself fluent in Swahili! Lol Then when the Lion King came out I was thrilled that I knew a lot of the words. The illustrations are beautiful and reflect the word of the alphabet. Just a note though, the book focuses mostly on African rural and village life and traditions.  Nonetheless, this book is a wonderful introduction to Kenyan culture and language.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book



Title: Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book 

Author: Celeste Shally 

Illustrator: David Harrington

Publisher: Awaken Specialty Press, September 1, 2007

Topic/Theme: Autism, Friendship, Acceptance, Special Needs

Ages: 3-8

Opening: It's finally summer vacation! It's going to be perfect because I'm going to hang out with my friend Matt who lives across the street.

Summary: Since We're Friends is about two boys. One has autism, the other does not. The story of their relationship provides practical examples of how to make such a friendship work. It will help children see that their peers with autism can make a fun, genuine contribution to friendship. 

Resources:
What is Autism? Here are ten facts about autism.
KidsHealth is a wonderful site that explains Autism to children using simple language and facts. Autism Speaks is another site with great resources for people with autism including apps. Check out Oliver's Guide to Autism, a very cute and informative way to learn about autism from a young boy name Oliver who has autism.


Why I like this book:
I love this book! I have a sibling with autism. Naeem, my oldest brother, was diagnosed with autism when he was three years of age. I love this book because it helps children and siblings with understanding and learning how to help their friends with autism. It is important however to know that not all children and adults with autism are the same. In the case of my brother Na'eem, he is different from Matt in this story in that he can not and does not like to engage in group activities, he does not engage in conversation with others not even me or my family. He is sometimes able to relay in very simple vocabulary what he needs or wants. This story is very particular to the relationship with Matt and his friend. But the book does give a general idea in how to help and engage a friend with autism. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Host a Food Drive

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:A person asked Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him,) "What deeds in Islam are good?" He replied, "To feed and greet those whom you know and those whom you don't know."

Feeding the hungry is a wonderful way to give back to the community. Offer to help with a food drive at your school, local library or community center. With the help of your teacher or parents, you can find a shelter or needy family to give the collected food items. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A-Z Challenge: I is for I Love My Hair



Title: I Love My Hair

Author: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Illustrator: E.B. Lewis

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; February 1, 1998

Topic/Theme: African American Heritage, Hair, Ethnic Identity, Cultural Identity, Heritage Pride

Ages: 4 - 8

Opening:
Every night before I go to bed, Mama combs my hair. I sit between her knees, resting my elbows on her thighs like pillows. 

Summary:
Every night before she goes to bed, Keyana sits down between her mother's knees to have her hair combed. But no matter how gently Mama pulls, it still hurts sometimes! Keyana doesn't feel lucky to have such a head of hair, but Mama says she is because she can wear it any way she chooses. "I can spin your hair into a fine, soft yarn, just like our grandmothers did at their spinning wheels," she tells her. "Or I can part your hair into strait lines and plant rows of braids along your scalp, the way we plant seeds in our garden." Soon Keyana, too, finds reasons to love her hair, and she wears it any way she chooses with pride.

Resources:
Discussion topics: Hair types. Have children describe their hair. Have them use descriptive words. Have children find something unique about their hair. Craft: Create self-portraits concentrating on hair types. Children can use different kinds of material that best matches their hair type, color, length, style and texture such as yarn, string, pipe cleaners, ribbon, cotton, and colored markers.

Why I like this book:

LOL! boy does this book bring back memories! I could see myself (especially my baby sister) in Keyana. Yes, I remember the days when I sat between my mama, grandma, auntie or cousin's knees and got my hair done. I was not as tender headed as my youngest sister who would cry, cry, cry and beg for my mom to use the brush first when she got her hair down but there were times when my hair was a bit nappier than usual and tears fell. But I loved to get my hair done. While I liked getting my hair pressed sometimes, I really liked getting it braided! I tried an afro once but had a heck of a time getting it back under control! :D But I loved my hair. Even today I prefer it natural than straightened (guess I got burned one to many times growing up :D) But this book really focuses on loving yourself. Loving your hair, loving your style and your heritage. We are all beautiful in our own way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A-Z Challenge: H is for Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale



Title: Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale

Author: Ehud Ben-Ezer

Illustrator: Uri Shulevitz

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), September 30, 1997
Ages: 4 – 8

Themes/Topics: Multicultural Folktale, Desert, Shepherd, Dreams, Arabia

Summary:
Hosni is a shepherd who has always wanted to see the city across the desert. One day the sheik he works for asks Hosni to make the journey with him and other shepherds to sell his camels. Each shepherd is given one gold dinar, and Hosni spends his on a piece of wisdom. Everyone laughs at Hosni for squandering his small fortune, but his purchase soon saves his life--and changes it forever.

Resources:
1) A class discussion on times when someone had given us advice and we did not take it.
2) Partner up and make up our own fortunes
3) Have students research the Arabian Peninsula. Find pictures of deserts, camels and nomad and make a collage.
3) Coloring Pages: CamelCaravanCamel in desert 

Why I like the book:
 Here is another folktale that comes from the Arabian Peninsula. While this type of story has been done before, quite a lot actually, the lone dreamer, the wise fool who outsmarts everyone else, Ben-Ezer does a great job making this tale unique and fresh. The illustrator does a wonderful job creating the arid dry desert scenes and vibrant desert marketplace. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Say "Hi"



Have you ever been the new kid on the block, classroom or party? Yes? Then you know that it can be a little lonely until someone nice comes up and says, "Hi" and introduces themselves to you. Do you have a new student in your classroom, sport team, reading group or extra curricular activity? Do they speak a different language? How about learning how to say "hi" in his or her language. Learning how to greet someone in their native language is a wonderful way to make friends and welcome them to the class, neighborhood and community.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Be Kind

Being kind is as easy as saying nice things to new people, friends and family, being friendly and helpful to those around you.

Here are some reasons why you should be kind!

Allah loves those who are kind to others.

The prophet (saw) was a very kind man.

Being kind feels good.

Kindness softens our heart.

Kindness helps people feel respected and less alone

Kindness makes people want to be around us.

Kindness begets kindness.


Random Acts of Kindness Ideas:
- Leave a book you have already finished somewhere for

someone else to read.

- Help your friend, sibling or classmate who is struggling with a class subject.

- Drop off a toy or game at a homeless shelter.

- Send someone a small gift anonymously.

- Help out with chores around the house.

- Share something special with your younger siblings.

- Drop off flowers at your friend or neighbor's house.

- Make and send a card to someone sick or far away from home.


 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Autism Awareness Blog Hop



April is Autism Awareness Month.  To help spread the word about Autism we are hosting a giveaway hop.


What is Autism? Here are ten facts about autism.


KidsHealth is a wonderful site that explains Autism to children using simple language and facts. Autism Speaks is another site with great resources for people with autism including apps. Check out Oliver's Guide to Autism, a very cute and informative way to learn about autism from a young boy name Oliver who has autism.


Book Giveaway!


Title: Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book 
Author: Celeste Shally 
Illustrator: David Harrington
Publisher: Awaken Specialty Press, September 1, 2007
Topic/Theme: Autism, Friendship, Acceptance, Special Needs
Ages: 3-8
Opening: It's finally summer vacation! It's going to be perfect because I'm going to hang out with my friend Matt who lives across the street.


Summary: Since We're Friends is about two boys. One has autism, the other does not. The story of their relationship provides practical examples of how to make such a friendship work. It will help children see that their peers with autism can make a fun, genuine contribution to friendship. 


Resources
See links above.


Why I like this book:
I love this book! I have a sibling with autism. Naeem, my brother was diagnosed with autism when he was three years of age. I love this book because it helps children and siblings with understanding and learning how to help their friends with autism. It is important however to know that not all children and adults with autism are the same. In the case of my brother Na'eem, he is different from Matt in this story in that he can not and does not like to engage in group activities, he does not engage in conversation with others not even me or my family. He is sometimes able to relay in very simple vocabulary what he needs or wants. This story is very particular to the relationship with Matt and his friend. But the book does give a general idea in how to help and engage a friend with autism.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

A-Z Challenge: G is for The Grand Mosque of Paris



Title: The Grand Mosque of Paris

Author:  Karen Gray Ruelle

Illustrator: Deborah Durland Desaix

Publisher: Holiday House, Aug 1 2009

Ages: 8 and up

Theme/Topics: Holocaust, Courage, Survival, Hope, Rescue, Muslims, Jews

Opening:
“Save one life, and it is as if you’ve saved all of humanity.”
Summary:
When the Nazis occupied Paris, no Jew was safe from arrest and deportation. Few Parisians were willing to risk their own lives to help. Yet during that perilous time, many Jews found refuge in an unlikely place--the sprawling complex of the Grand Mosque of Paris. Not just a place of worship but a community center, this hive of activity was an ideal temporary hiding place for escaped prisoners of war and Jews of all ages, especially children.

Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched, this compelling book reveals the almost unknown story of how French Muslims' courage, faith, and devotion to justice saved the lives of so many Jews.

Resources:
The publisher provides an excellent Educator’s Guide.

Why I like this book:
These days there is so much turmoil in the Middle East, the whole world for that matter, this story is greatly needed to show that at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. And when one person hurts because of oppression, we all hurt. This book tells a story of oppression, fear, survival, courage, and most importantly, brotherhood and hope. A story that is not told in history books. This is a great book to add to the study of the Jewish holocaust. It adds to the story of their struggle, plight, sacrifice and also their survival with the help of a few brave French Muslims. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A-Z Challenge: F is for The Farmer's Wife



Title: The Farmer’s Wife

Author: Idries Shah

Illustrator: Rose Mary Santiago

Publisher: Hooppe Books, June 2005

Suitable for: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: Culture: Afghanistan, Folktale/lore, Problem-solving,

Opening:
Once upon a time there was a farmer’s wife. One day when she was picking apples from a tree, one of the apples fell into a hole in the ground and she couldn’t get it out.

Brief synopsis:
This is a cumulative tale about a woman's efforts to retrieve an apple from a hole in the ground. Children will enjoy learning the highly predictable lines by heart. But when a surprise event changes the direction of the tale, their expectations will be jolted in a most amusing way, and they will have learned its valuable lessons about the nature of problem solving and discovery. Rose Mary Santiago’s striking illustrations evoke the story’s origins and, at the same time, add a uniquely playful atmosphere to this funny tale.

Links to resources:
Activity and discussion ideas. 
*What was the moral of the story? Have your child(ren) discuss what they got out of the book. 
*This story can be used to talk about problem solving. Let your child(ren) discuss alternative ways the farmer’s wife could have retrieved the apple from the hole. 
*Talk about the importance of treating animals with kindness. Is it ever okay to have one animal hurt another? 
*Notice the dress of the farmer’s wife? Where is she from? Have your child(ren) guess where she is from. This story is an Afghani folktale. Where is Afghanistan? Have your child(ren) look up the country and research the culture.
*Afghani girl cultural dress coloring page
*Read the story online.

Why I like this book:
This was a really cute tale that reminded me of the stories I grew up reading like the Old lady who swallowed the fly, the napping house, etc. I always loved a story that started off, “Once Upon A Time.” :D Those are the classics. There is always a lesson to be learned in a ‘once upon a time’ tale! In this story children learn that being persistent will sometime lead to remarkable outcomes. For young children, it helps to have the repetition in the story. It helps them anticipate the rest of the story and encourage early literacy skills. The illustrations were playful and hilarious! I loved them.  Another neat thing about the books is that it is translated into Spanish as well. I took Spanish in college and tried reading and well let’s just say I need to go re-learn the language! :(

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner: Going to Mecca


The winner of Going to Mecca by Na'ima B Robert is.......................

Hafsa!!

Congratulations Hafsa! 

A-Z Challenge: E is for The Empty Pot


Title: The Empty Pot

Author: Demi

Illustrator: Demi

Publisher: Square Fish, September 15, 1996 

Ages: 4 and up

Theme/Topic: honesty, bravery, Integrity, consequences, virtue,

Opening:
A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. Up cam flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as if by magic!

Summary:
When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds the emperor distributes, Ping is overjoyed. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants bursts into bloom. But the emperor's seed will not grow, despite months of loving care, and Ping goes before the emperor carrying only his empty pot. The emperor ignores the beautiful blossoms brought by the other children and chooses Ping, revealing that the seeds he handed out had been cooked and could not grow.

Resources:
This site has wonderful extension ideas and activities.  Homeshare has another wonderful lesson plan to go with this book. (Note, I believe this may be a Christian site as they have a section bible related but it includes lots of fun activities for math, science, social studies and more.)  More lesson activities including a fill in the blank worksheet. 
Lessons about honesty 

Why I like this book:
I love folk tales from other cultures. This one teaches children to be honest and the importance of integrity, honesty and accountability. I love that the father encourages the son to accept the fact that he worked really hard on trying to grow his seeds and to accept that he did his best. He did not suggest for Ping to cheat but to take his empty pot to the emperor. Children learn about consequences as well. The children who cheated did not win the emperor’s approval or his throne. But Ping won through his honesty, integrity and virtue.

A-Z Challenge: D is for The Day of Ahmed's Secret


Title: The Day of Ahmed’s Secret

Author: Florence H. Parry & Judith Heide Gilliland

Illustrator: Ted Lewin

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers, April 25th, 1995 

Ages: 6 and up

Theme/Topic: Egyptian culture and lifestyle, 

Opening: Today I have a secret, and all day long my secret will be like a friend to me.  Tonight I will tell it to my family, but now I have work to do in my city

SummaryAhmed drives his donkey cart through the streets of Cairo, delivering butane gas cylinders to his father's customers. He knows everyone and has a part to play in the life of the city. He is proud to be strong enough to help his family, but most of all he is proud of his precious secret, a secret that he keeps until the end of the day. The book reveals a lot about Ahmed's life, and finally his secret - that he can write his name.

Resources:
I found a couple of sites that have some good lesson ideas and plans that can be used to expand on the book. Homeschool Share has a lesson plan that includes social studies, language arts, science, math and art.  Here is another lesson plan that is for early elementary kids. Basic facts about Egypt. More facts about Cairo, Egypt. Photosof Egypt. 

Why I like this book:
This is a really moving tale about a boy named Ahmed who has learned how to write his name. Ahmed is a young boy who has to work to help his family out. In most third world countries poor families have to let their children work to support the family. Education is only for people with money.  But education is coveted, even by the poor. They do realize that their children would profit if they learned how to read and write but circumstances does not allow them to send their children to school. I saw this time after time when I worked overseas. I loved the illustrations. They transport you to Cairo, Egypt.  They are rich and vibrant as they paint the culture and day to day lifestyle of the Egyptian people in one of Egypt’s most popular cities. The book is written in the voice of Ahmed so you see the city through his eyes as he goes about his daily work routine and schedule.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Going to Mecca







Title: Going to Mecca

Author: Na'ima B Robert

Illustrator: Valentina Cavallini

Publisher: Frances Lincoln 


Suitable for ages: 5 and up

Opening:
"Come with the pilgrims 
As they set out on a journey,
A journey of patience
To the city of Mecca..."

Synopsis:

We are led on the journey of a lifetime to the city of Mecca - the pilgrimage known to Muslims as the Hajj. The pilgrims walk with heads bare and feet in sandals; they call to Allah; they kiss or point to the Black Stone, as the Prophet did. Arriving at Mecca, they surge round the Ka'aba, shave their heads and travel to Mount Arafat. Finally, though their bodies are tired and aching, their spirits are uplifted, knowing that with thousands of others they have performed the sacred pilgrimage.

This is a window on to a sacred journey for Muslims the world over - beautifully described and illustrated for younger children.

Resources:

Hajj Activity Bank  Find a variety of ideas arranged by curriculum subjects.


Do the Hajj count Down  A variety of fun activities that relate to hajj.



Coloring pages here and here


What I like about this book:

I have not read too many books geared for children, especially for Muslim children, about Hajj that I really like. Most are boring with stiff text and the illustrations are unattractive. I was greatly relieved when I came by Na'ima Robert's book. Going to Mecca is a wonderful children's book that teaches little ones about the rites and rituals of Hajj. Na'ima Robert's lyrical prose invites the reader (parents and children alike) on a journey right along side the pilgrims on the page. I love the collage/textured feel of the illustrations. They are simple yet fun and child-centered. The illustrations bring alive the basic but important information in the text. This book can be a wonderful resource and introduction to learning about Hajj in both Muslim and non-Muslim classroom settings. It is especially ideal to include in multicultural curriculum. There is a glossary at the end of the book that explains important arabic words in the book. I highly recommend this book for every home and classroom.



A-Z Challenge: C is for The Color of Home

C is for change and colorful reminders of home.


Author: Mary Hoffman
Illustrator: Karin Littlewood
Publisher: Frances Lincoln, March 1, 2003
Ages: 6-9
Theme/Topic: Relocation, Somalia, Adjusting to new country and culture, healing through art,

Synopsis:
The Color of Home follows first-grader Hassan through his first few days at school. Hassan has only recently arrived in the United States after he and his family were forced to flee Somalia, and he deeply misses the colorful landscape of his former home in Africa. But with the help of his parents, an understanding teacher, and a school art project, Hassan finds that by painting a picture of his old home and sharing his story, his homesickness and the trauma of leaving a war-torn country are lessened. And he finds that there are many things to like about his new home in America. 


Resources:
This book can be used with students from pre-K, where there might be students that have experienced the same or maybe they are English learners. The Color of Home allows readers to understand how hard it might be for some people to relocate. You can also talk about different reasons of why people have to or choose to move from their home-country. You can also discuss what difficulties not knowing the language most people talk can produce, and how ESL students might feel while learning a new language. 




Why I like this book:


Many people do not know what it is like to leave the only home they have ever known to be in a new place with a new language, a new culture and new environment. It is also hard to know and understand what it is like to live in a war-torn country, the experiences and trauma that a person, especially a child experiences. Even more so, children do not know how to relate to or help new classmates and friends from poverty-stricken and war-torn countries. The Color of Home does a beautiful job of bringing to light the heart of Hassan's struggle as he learns to accept and embrace his new home.