Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Be Kind to Animals

Salaam and Happy Good Deed Friday! Today's good deed idea is being kind to animals. Whether you are an animal lover or not. Whether you have a pet or not, we should always be kind to animals. Ways to care and be kind to animals is to always make sure we are gentle with them. Speak nicely to animals. Make sure they have food and water, especially if they are your pets. Provide a safe and clean environment. But what if you don't like animals or are afraid of them? You can still be kind by leaving them be. If you see an animal you don't like, turn around and walk away from it. Don't be mean and throw things at it. Animals are creations of Allah too and we should be kind, caring and understanding even to them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Title: Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Author: Jeanette Winter

Publisher: Harcourt, Inc, September 21, 2008

Suitable for: (ages) 3 and up

Themes/Topics:  Nature, Environmentalism, Women History, Women Empowerment

Wangari lives under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya Africa.

Brief synopsis:
As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something. She starts with nine seedlings in her backyard. As her trees grow, so do her plans……

Links to resources:

Discussion Questions can be found here

Interview of Wangari of why trees are important: 

This is a very simple Smart Board lesson on parts of a tree.  Go to the site, then scroll
down to K-2 Templates, Parts of a Tree.

Trees are Terrific....Travels with Pierre
This site is presented in animated format and designed to help young children (5–8 years of age) gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their everyday lives and develop an interest in learning more about trees. 

National Geographic Kids
Colorful site with facts and photos of Kenya

Teach Using Wangari's Trees of Peace
Look here for lesson ideas and links to use with this book.

Activities for all ages that explore issues related to environmental preservation and sustainability. 
Why I like this book: This is a true story about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She inspired great change in her native country by bringing back the native trees to Kenya. She is an excellent example of inspiration for children today. They will learn that with hard work, dedication and strong will, even one person can inspire change, they can make a difference. The illustrations are very simple but reflect well the text and story as they follow Wangari from her childhood living “under an umbrella of green trees,” and observing her environment as she helps her mother harvest their crop. When she gets older, she goes to study in America. When she returns, the green land she left was no more. No more trees, birds, or green remained due to deforestation. Wangari decides to replace the trees that were cut down. She faced great opposition from the government and was even jailed for her attempts to bring change. She enlisted the help of other village women to plant the seedlings she grew telling them, “We are planting the seeds of hope.” Through her Green Belt Movement, Wangari brought environmental change not just to Kenya but to thirty other countries in Africa. Her story and life is truly an inspiration and this book is great to help children understand her great efforts and success. It saddens me to learn she recently passed away. Her dedication and love for the environment and women’s empowerment will be remembered.

For a complete list of recommended picture books and resources that engage, educate, and entertain go to Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Giveaway: Going to Mecca


  • Title: Going to Mecca
  • Author: Na'ima B Robert
  • Reading level: Ages 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847801536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847801531

This is a wonderful window into the sacred journey for Muslims the world over - beautifully described and illustrated for younger children. Going to Mecca is a great addition to every bookshelf.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Plant a Tree!

Salaam everyone and Happy Good Deed Friday! Welcome to another fun Good Deed Friday. Our tip for the day is one that can bring not only family and friends together but a whole community. Plant a Tree. Trees are very important for our health and survival. They give us shade, give us oxygen, and most give us fruits or nuts to eat. They are homes to many types of animals and insects. Not to mention, they add beauty to our yards, parks and cities. Trees are wonderful. Plant a tree today!

Check out how to plant a tree here and here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: In the Garden with Dr. Carver

Title: In the Garden with Dr. Carver 

Author: Susan Grigsby

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; Sept 1, 2010

Suitable for: 7-9, Grades: 2-4

Theme/Topics: non-fiction, history, biography, botany, science.

SummarySally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including "chicken" made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby's warm story shines new light on an African American scientist who was ahead of his time.

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: Engaging, entertaining and education. I love the watercolor illustrations and the abundant depiction of nature in the story. The illustrations also tell a story of their own that are great for discussions after story time. The story is great to teach children the importance of how we treat and care for nature. It promotes love for science and botany. “Listen to the plants, they will tell you what they need.”

Find more perfect picture books 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Hilmy the Hippo Learns to be Grateful

Title: Hilmy the Hippo Learns to be grateful

Author: Rae Norridge

Publisher: The Islamic Foundation, 2002

Suitable for ages: 7 - 11

Themes/Topics: Gratitude, Moving House, Finding a Home

Hilmy was a large, happy hippo who lived at a quiet water hole. One day he decided that the water hole was too small for a hippo as grand as himself.

Brief synopsis:
What happens when you start to think you are too big for your cozy home? Hilmy doesn't like his home anymore. So he goes on a trip searching for a new home fit for a grand hippo. But this is not as easy as Hilmy thinks. He meets a lot of nice friends (and scary ones too) on his way and finds out the hard way that his old home was perfect for him all along.

Links to resources:

Word searches are great ways to re-enforce vocabulary. Create word searches with all the animals in the book. Visit some great sites to learn all about Hippos: what they eat, where they live and other fun facts. National Geographic, Science Kids and Zoo Books. I like Zoo Books because it has a virtual zoo and audio of different animal sounds along with lots facts and interactive games. Discussion Topics can include: Why did Hilmy want a new home? What were some of his obstacles? Did he find a new home? Why should we be grateful? Have you ever wanted to move to a different home? Why? What do you like about your homes?

Why I like this book:

Hilmy is sweet. And like all young people (and older people) he is learning the importance of being grateful and appreciating what we have. I love that he goes on this journey and finds out for himself that bigger is not always better. He also remembers to thank Allah (God) in the end when he realizes that the home he searched for was the home he left behind. The illustrations are wonderful and fun. I think children will love them and find them entertaining. There is an Arabic glossary to help with the non-English words in the book. I love books that connects children with faith and spirituality. While this book uses Arabic greetings and phrases, it does not

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Noor Kids Discover their Blessings!

Title: Noor Kids Discover their Blessings!

Authors: Amin and Mohammed Aaser

Publisher: Noor Kids, Inc

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Topics/Themes: Gratitude, Being Thankful

Why I like this book/magazine: 

This is such a delightful edition. While technically, it is not a picture book, I still wanted to include it in the perfect picture book collection as it is geared for the little ones with its bright, colorful and attractive illustrations. Young children will learn about gratitude and thankfulness through the wonderful stories and activities in the magazine. My favorite story was "Turn Your Frown Upside Down." In this story children learn that no matter how bad a day can be, we are still blessed with so much!

This book is a filled with activities that children will love to do, from coloring books, learning arabic words, question and answers, fill in the blanks and word searches. there is so much to do packed in this little magazine.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Family

Salaam and Happy Good Deed Friday! Today's good deed idea is actually two wrapped in one. Reading the Qur'an helps us become closer to Allah (swt). Reading with our family helps us become closer with our parents and siblings. So reading Qur'an with our family is even more rewarding! :) The best time to read Qur'an with your family is after the Fajr and Isha prayers when everyone is together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Giveaway: Islamic Rose Series

Salaam and Greetings! 

Welcome to another book giveaway on Family-Ship Experience. Linda D. Delgado will be releasing her latest book in the Islamic Rose Book series. Reunion is the final book in the series and will be releasing soon. To celebrate her good news and wonderful accomplishment, I am giving away the first four books before they last is released! And here they are: The Visitors, Stories, Hijab-Ez Friends and Saying Goodbye. Please fill out the form below to enter for a chance to win the complete set (minus the 5th book soon to be released.) 

Book Details:
 Not everyone in Rose's family is happy about the two Saudi Arabian police officers staying at Grandma's house. Nine-year-old Rose and grandma help the officers with English lessons and the officers share their culture and Islamic religion. The officers' kind ways and good manners soon win the hearts of Rose and her grandparents. Rose becomes confused and worried by her dad's continued avoidance of Fahd and Abdul and his warnings to stay away from the masjid. Rose is determined to change her dad's mind about his dislike and distrust of the Muslim officers. She creates one unique plan after another and refuses to become discouraged when her plans backfire and she gets into problems with her dad. Rose designs an ingenious new PLAN. Its success or failure will have a lasting affect on Rose, her family and new friends.

  Stories is a treasure chest of wonderful stories about Islam and the lives of Rose, her family members and Hijab-Ez friends. Readers join Rose and the Hijab-Ez as they delight in stories Fahd and Abdul tell them about famous Muslims from Islam's history. Rose and her friends apply the wisdom they learn from these stories to problems they face at school and home: Islam's famous Woman Warrior removes doubts that arise when Rose learns about Christina's struggle with a family problem. Camelia's story about the Kitten Man helps provide the solution needed for some unexpected arrivals. Rose's anger over the intolerance directed towards Camelia is close to erupting into a PLAN that spells real trouble for the Hijab-Ez. Abdul's story about how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) averted a war helps Rose devise a peaceful PLAN that results in justice for her best friend. Rose has questions about the mother who left when she was a baby and family stories from the past help Rose in her search for answers. Rose's curiosity about names results in a family discussion about the importance of a person's name and Grandpa surprises everyone when he relates a family story about his middle name. 

 I don't want to go to public school! I don't need diversity! Ten-year-old Rose protests to Dad and Grandma. What is diversity, anyway? she wonders crossly.
Rose's dad wants her to meet kids of different races, cultures and religions. He says the new school will be an adventure. No way! Only a grown-up would tell a kid that going to a new school is an adventure. But, could he be right?
It doesn't take Rose long to find out. The first week of school, Rose befriends Camelia, a Muslim Egyptian-American, Ruby, a Protestant Vietnamese National and Christina, a Catholic Hispanic- American. Who knew diversity could be so much fun?! Not all of Rose's classmates like her new friends. Operation Proof is Rose's PLAN to nab a bully. Another PLAN almost lands Rose and friends in big problems when they visit Meteorite Crater. Rose faces losing a dear friend with courage and struggles with sadness when old friends seem to change. Old, new, young and family friends-mark Rose's life. She realizes that being a friend is as important as having friends.

 Saying Goodbye is often more than the wave of a hand, a cheery "See you tomorrow," or an As Salaam'Alaykum. Sometimes these everyday words and gestures are taken for granted. Rose is about to learn there are many reasons for saying goodbye.
As the school year ends, a kaleidoscope of unexpected events throws Rose into a tailspin! The Hijab-Ez Summer Plan is wrecked and the Hijab-Ez must cope with a loss. Tragedy strikes and Rose must say a forever-kind-of-goodbye. Fahd consoles Rose and gives her hope when he says, "Allah willing, you will get something better to replace what you have lost."
Rose needs courage and hope to overcome her sadness when saying goodbye to Fahd and Abdul who are going home to Saudi Arabia. Just when Rose thinks nothing else could possibly happen to change her life, Grandma reveals her secret to the whole family and saying goodbye takes on a whole new meaning for Rose. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: One of Us

Title: One of Us

Author: Peggy Moss

Publisher: Tilbury House

Theme/Topic:  Identity, Being Yourself, Cliques

Grade: 2-6


"You are one of us," Carmen tells Roberta on her first day at a new school. 

Roberta gladly sits with the rest of the straight-up-hair girls-until she hears they don't play on the monkey bars. Roberta loves the monkey bars and leaps at the chance to swing with the monkey-bar posse, until she hears they don't carry flowered lunch boxes like she does. Roberta moves from group to group, just trying to be herself, until it seems she doesn't fit in anywhere. Then Roberta discovers some kids just like her-everyone's different and they like it that way! 

In a society plagued by the need to fit in at all costs, One of Us features a plucky youngster with the courage to be who she is and the charisma to help others assert their individuality.   

These activities can be found at the publisher website:
Activity: What Cliques Do You Know?
Activity: Who Are You/What Are You?
Activity: Ideal Community
Activity: Rodney's Flowers

Why I Like This Book:
I really liked this book because I was once just like Roberta, new kid at a new school. Fitting in was very important to me because I was different. I was the only Muslim kid in my small town school. This book is full of humor but effectively touches on the subject of peer pressure and just what can be lost when we try to fit in and shut others out. This book is PERFECT for use at home and in the classroom. Children can easily identify with Roberta. I also love that the illustrations captures a diverse range of children, children of different ethnicities, and physical abilities. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Picking Up Litter

Salaam and Happy Good Deed Friday! Today's good deed idea is something you don't need money for, just a kind heart, lots of energy and a good friend or two! Have you ever gone to play at the park and it was a bit dirty? Parks a fun places to play but if there is trash every where, it can be a hazard to your health and safety. Helping keep your local park clean and free of trash is a wonderful way to help others and a fun way to spend time with friends and family!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Blackberry Stew by Isabell Monk

Title: Blackberry Stew

Author: Isabell Monk

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, April 2005

Suitable for: 5 - 8 years

Themes/Topics: Loss and Grief, Grandfathers, Memories, Over-coming Fears

Grandpa Jack had passed away. Aunt Poogee and I sat on her wraparound porch, all dressed up. We watched as our family and friends arrived at the church up on the hill for his funeral.
Brief synopsis:
Hope is sad that her Grandpa Jack has passed away.  She does not want to go to the funeral because she does not want to say goodbye and lose her grandfather forever. She and Aunt Poogee sit on the porch and share one of their favorite memories of Grandpa Jack, blackberry picking. Hope learns one of life’s most important lessons. She realizes that as long as she has her memories, Grandpa Jack will live on inside of her, and she will never have to say good-bye.

Links to resources:
Learn about berry facts and tips for picking here.  
Coloring Pages here and here.
Learn about garter snakes here and here.
A variety of snake learning activities can be found here
There is a recipe for blackberry stew at the end of the book.

Why I like this book:
This heart-warming story emphasizes the importance of family, love and memories. I love the warmth and feel of the story. The reader is taken into the past as Hope remembers her grandpa. I really felt the emotions she was feeling, her grief, fear, relief and happiness. I loved the illustrations. They lent a warm and touching extension to the text. Any child who is grieving the loss of a beloved grandparent will find solace in knowing that they will never truly lose them as long as they keep their memories alive. But I also think it is important for parents and adults to help children keep those memories alive. J

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: My First Ramadan

Title: My First Ramadan

Author: Karen Katz

Suitable for ages: 3-8 years

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. August 7th 2007

Theme/Topic: Culture, Muslim Holiday, Ramadan, Muslim Festival, Family

         Look! There is the new moon in the sky. Now we will begin our holiday called                      Ramadan……
Synopsis: It is time for Ramadan. Follow along with one young boy as he observes the Muslim holiday with his family. This year, he wants to try to fast like the grown-ups do, and even the youngest readers will be interested as he shares his experiences of this special holiday.
More books about Ramadan for children:
More Ramadan Resources:

Why I like this book:
My First Ramadan is meant to introduce young children to the month of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims worldwide and many practices and traditions that happen through out the month. Karen Katz does a wonderful job illustrating and creating a super cute Muslim boy to share his excitement of the month and coming holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr. With all of her books, I just love her illustrations! Little bodies and big round heads. They remind me of a few of my little ones I care for in my toddler classroom! J The text is simple and straightforward. She includes a pronunciation guide for Arabic words through out the book. Like every holiday, Ramadan celebrates traditions, family, friends and the community. It encourages good deeds and virtues, prayer and charity. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Shades of Black

Title: Shades of Black

Author: Sandra L. Pinkney

Publisher, date published, genre: Scholastic Inc,  11/1/2000, PB Non-fiction -  Photo Essay

Suitable for: 4 and up - grades PreK – Grade 2

Themes/Topics: Multicultural, African-American, Self-Esteem

Opening: “I am Black. I am Unique. I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar.”
Synopsis: From chocolate brown to midnight blue, from cottony puffs of hair to hair like a rope's corkscrew, these photographs show the many ways to be black and proud.
Using poetic language and stunning photographs, the Pinkneys create a remarkable affirmation of the beauty and diversity of African-American children.

Links to resources: Shades of Black Lesson Plan

Why I like this book: I really could have used this book when I taught English in Sudan. I was raised loving my self and my heritage. Being ‘black’ was never an issue growing up for me. Being black was not about the color of our skin. It represented our culture and heritage. We were African-Americans. When I went to Sudan, I took that attitude with me, that no matter what ‘shade’ you were, you were black. * Shakes Head * Big mistake! I learned right away that many Sudanese did not like being called black, because it was considered a color, a color that had negative connotations. Which brings me back to just how wonderfully written this book is and how beautifully illustrated it is with rich and diverse photographs that show positive images of African American children of every shade and hue. The author uses the most beautiful and perfectly fitted similes that match the photos of each child. This book celebrates children. It celebrates African American children. I personally think every classroom should have a copy of this book. Shades of Black invites readers of all ages and cultures to explore and embrace the diversity of the African American. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Charity

Even children can give charity! The next time you are at your local masjid, donate as little as a few cents or as much as a few dollars to the masjid! Giving from the heart is equally valued no matter how much you give, so long as you are sincere.