Montessori Treasure Baskets

Treasure Baskets are fun sensorial learning tool for babies, and you can put one together for your little one in no time! They are generally introduced to babies between the ages of 6months-18months, when they are able to sit and move around independently. One of babies’ favourite ways to learn about their environment is through touch and exploring objects with their mouths.Β  Providing babies with a variety of objects made from natural materials helps diversify their senses and introduce them to exciting new tastes, textures, and smells.

Tips for creating your own Treasure Basket:

  • Fill a basket with a collection of objects made of natural materials (avoid plastics and metals that may contain lead)
  • Provide objects with a variety of textures- i.e., wood, cloth, ribbon, stone, glass
  • Ensure objects are not small enough to choke on

How to introduce a Treasure basket:

  • Create a calm environment for your baby by removing other toys, distractions and noises (i.e., TV) from the area
  • Present the basket after baby has been fed and is well rested
  • Always supervise and remain present when baby is using a discovery basket
  • Allow your child to explore freely without prompting or guiding their play
  • Your child may play with their basket anywhere from 30 mins to an hour
  • Put the basket away when not in use so that it remains something special for baby to explore every day
  • From time to time introduce new objects to your child’s basket

What’s in our Treasure basket:

  • Cardboard tube
  • Pinecone
  • Doily
  • Wooden teether
  • Wooden bowl
  • Metal spoon
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Seashell
  • Rock
  • Lace
  • Wooden spool
  • Glass vanilla jar
  • Metal whisk
  • Felt heart

What kinds of things are you including in your sensory basket? I would love it if you shared some of your ideas in the comment section below!

Also I am so happy to introduce our new Wooden Camel teethers which can be purchased in the Handmade Beginnings Etsy shop! They are made from natural beech wood that is sealed with an organic beeswax and olive oil sealant. They feature a printed cotton attachment that is backed with a soft flannel fabric perfect for catching droolies. They are just the right size to fit in your little one’s hands.

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Our DIY Play Kitchen

I made a play kitchen for my eldest daughter back in 2013 but I just never got around to blogging about it. I think I was waiting for it to be “completely” finished and perfect before sharing it, and then never ending up sharing it. So here’s to putting aside perfection and embracing things as they are! Our little kitchen has gotten a ton of love and play in the past few years, and may need a new coat of paint! Here are some pictures of how I made it that I dug up from years ago, as well as some more recent pictures of my now 4 children enjoying it, Alhumdulillah.

To make our play kitchen I used an old dresser, wooden wall shelf, dresser knobs, and a metal bowl all from the thrift store.I have to admit I love woodworking even though I have no idea what I am doing. I love to teach myself new things, and just go for it, of course always keeping safety in mind! So I bought myself a jigsaw just for this project, haha. I watched a few youtube videos, read the manual, and went for it. Cutting a hole in the top of the dresser was easier than I thought it would be. I have dreams of taking a proper woodworking class someday when the kids are bigger, until then I will figure things out as I need to!

Once I cut out the hole, I then removed the bottom shelf on the wooden wall rack and then attached the entire rack to the dresser by screwing two L brackets one on each side with my drill. I then re-added the bottom shelf but this time vertically to act as a sort of backboard for the stove knobs. The knobs are some decorative dresser knobs that I picked up from Home Sense, and I just drilled some holes in the bottom shelf to add those.Then I painted on some fake stove top elements using black paint. I opted not to add any sort of raised element, like I’ve seen people do by using round wooden craft plaques, because I wanted the top of the dresser to remain flat so the kids could also use it as a stable surface to put trays on to “cut” vegetables and prepare food.

For the sink, I used a wooden letter “J” that I painted silver and flipped upside down to resemble a faucet, and simply hot glued in itΒ  place. I tried a variety of glues, including wood glue, for this step and the faucet kept coming off. So far the hot glue has held up the best! I added some old wooden knobs that I painted silver as well to use as the sink taps, and added the thrifted silver bowl to complete the sink.

I of course painted the entire play kitchen pink and blue to match a play refrigerator that I previously bought from Home Sense. I had originally removed all the wooden drawers from the dresser and added two pieces of wood on hinges to function as a cupboard and an oven. However, I removed them pretty quickly because the kids were opening and closing them too fast and their little fingers were in danger of becoming pinched. I don’t know if I will re-add them sometime, maybe if I can figure out a way to make it safer. But for now I just have all the drawers inside, and they are empty at the moment. I am thinking of adding some new knobs and using them as storage for their play food or playthings.

Our most recent addition to our play kitchen is our little kitchen window! We used a wooden picture frame, and two pieces of craft wood that we hot glued on to create a window frame. Then I painted the frame white, and my eldest daughter painted a scene onto the cardboard piece that comes with the picture frame. We popped the cardboard back into the frame, and hung it up using it’s existing hardware on the back. It was an easy, and really satisfying addition to our little kitchen corner. We are debating adding a little fabric curtain to the window, what do you think?

So that is our DIY play kitchen, I hope you like it! You may also notice some of the crochet play food I made for my kids. I made them using patterns by Twinkie Chan from Creative Bug. I have to finish the stem on the eggplant, and add some more variety of foods for them to play with. But other than that it’s something they play with everyday. It is a great way to foster children’s imaginations and promote creative play, and nothing warms my heart more than my children playing and creating sweet memories together with things I’ve made with my hands.

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DIY Ramadan Sign

Have you started getting ready for Ramadan already? I have decided to participate in #the100dayproject on Instagram with #100RamadanActivities to get my children and I prepared for Ramadan. Ramadan is about 50 or so days away so my 100 day challenge will last through Ramadan insha’Allah. I am hoping to share a blog post to go along with each day so that everyone can benefit, so stay tuned! I might miss some days here and there but I will try my best. For the first day of the challenge, I shared the printable Ramadan Calendar Activity cards, and for the second day I hosted a giveaway on instagram with Learn Little Muslims to win one of my Ramadan Calendars. Today, for the third day, I am sharing this fun craft project to decorate your home before Ramadan. Watch the video below. Let me know if you try it!

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What to put in your Ramadan Calendar

Ramadan is quickly approaching, and I often get asked what are some ideas of things to put in the handmade Ramadan Calendars that I make. So my daughter helped me put together this video just for you! We hope you like it. If you have any other ideas of what to add in a Ramadan Calendar, please share them in the comments below for all to benefit insha’Allah.

 

FREE PRINTABLE RAMADAN CALENDAR ACTIVITY CARDS

If you’d like you can add these 30 days of Activity cards to your child’s Ramadan Calendar

30 Ramadan Activity Cards

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

You can also find some other Ramadan Calendar Activity Cards that I made a few years ago.

DOWNLOAD HERE

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New! Lunar Ramadan Calendars

Assalamu Alaikum,

I am so excited to announce my new Ramadan Calendar line for 2017. As an Early Childhood Educator, I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate learning into my handmade products. My new Lunar collection features the moon phases over the course of the month on the outside of the fabric pockets. Here are some of the colourways I have made so far. SAND, INDIGO, MAGENTA, PURPLE. I have also made BLACK, and WHITE..Β  and I will take proper pictures of those soon πŸ™‚ insha’Allah. Visit my Etsy Shop to see what is instock, or to request a custom order!

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Nightly News with Safa Book Review

I recently read the book, “Nightly News with Safa”, by Helal Musleh to my children. Just by looking at the cover of this book, I knew it would be a hit with my girls! It is a sweet little book about a girl named Safa and her desire to create a joyful news broadcast, unlike the sorrowful news her mom watches everyday. Safa creates her own cardboard box television and tells her mom about all the wonderful things she has done at school that day.

I love how a few lessons are subtley integrated into the story. The reminder to parents to connect with their children when they’ve spent time apart. Children have things they need to tell us and a few minutes of undivided attention goes a long way. Also the idea of trying to cheer someone up who is not in the best of moods, like when Safa showed her mother a happier version of nightly news.

After reading the book, my crafty girls wanted to make their own TV. We looked around the house for things we had on hand and used a piece of foam board, and a recycled cardboard box to assemble our TV. We simply cut a large hole in the foam board with an X-acto knife. Then we hot glued it onto a cardboard box that would hold it up and act as a desk for the girls.

The girls brought out their notebooks and read their news reports to us. We recorded some great family videos of their shows!


For my eldest daughter who is in Grade 4, I printed the free Book Study worksheets that Helal has on her website, My Everyday Classroom. It looks at the key components in Safa’s news story and aids children in composing their own news article, along with other great worksheets.

“Nightly News with Safa” provides a gentle way to start talking to your children about media and the news, and about their thoughts and feelings. My eldest daughter is more aware, than my younger ones, of what is happening in the world and always has a lot of questions. Insha’Allah tomorrow I will show you some of the ways that we teach world events in our homeschool.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free PDF copy for my honest review of “Nightly News with Safa” by Helal Musleh. I only recommend products my children and I truly enjoy and use in our homeschool.

 

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Online Homeschool Convention

Assalamu Alaikum,

I am excited to be speaking at the first ever Online Homeschool Convention, hosted by Laylah’s Classroom. I was invited to do a crafting session for the convention and I am really excited to share some of what I have been learning about textile design and Islamic art. My talk is called “DIY Islamic Inspired Textiles”. My segment will be prerecorded because of it’s nature and the need for closeups and different video clips. This is my first time doing a video presentation but I love any opportunity to challenge myself creatively, and creating video content was something I have always been interested in.

So if you haven’t signed up already, I invite you to not miss out on this unique event. There is such a great line-up of speakers, and I cannot wait to listen to their presentations, insha’Allah. May Allah make the event beneficial for all those who attend. Visit the website, to get your ticket http://laylahsclassroom.com/homeschool-convention/

Islamic Homeschool Convention | Laylah’s Classroom from Laylah’s Classroom on Vimeo.

 

Check out Laylah’s Classroom to see more of the speakers on the Convention panel.

GIVEAWAY

Have you purchased your ticket yet? Whether you’ve purchased your ticket or not, you are eligible to sign up to enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win a free ticket to the convention!

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Open Arms Kayseri Project

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I would like to introduce you to the Open Arms in Kayseri Project (OAK), a charity started by some wonderful sisters I know in Turkey, to support Syrian refugee families.

More from OAK:

Our focus is in three areas: Emergency care, self reliance and education for women and children. We provide supplies including food, coal for heating, rent, home essentials, baby supplies, clothing, furniture and toys. Our goal is to create a self sustaining social enterprise, which will enable mothers to work and gain new skills. We want to be able to educate both mothers and children and bring significant improvements to their lives in sha Allah.
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They have opened the OAK Centre where women can learn new skills and create items to sell, and where their children can go to school to learn the Turkish language and other skills that will help them succeed in their new home.

 

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Alhumdulillah I am very excited to announce that I will be selling some of the crochet items that these sisters have made in my Etsy shop. View a tour of the centre:


Allah (swt) said in the Quran, β€œWho is he that will lend to
Allah a goodly loan so that He may multiply it to him many times? And it is
Allah that decreases or increases (your provisions), and unto Him you shall
return.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 245]

 

β€œWhoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease someone in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter.” Muslim 2699.

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Pants for him

I believe this is my first sewing projects for my boy, Alhumdulillah! I have to say it is a bit difficult to get into the mindset of sewing for boys after having sewn for myself, and then 3 girls, haha. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen my new resolution for 2017.. if not here’s what I wrote…

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When your baby boy outgrows his pants you draft a pattern and make new ones! I had 3 girls previous to this baby boy so there are no hand-me downs for him. I am often tempted to buy him clothes from big box stores…. but I remember the “Made in Bangladesh” documentary that aired a few years ago. I don’t feel right supporting companies that do not use ethical practices in the production of their garments. But I am guilty of buying things now and again. So I really want to move forward into the new year, and from now on, with the goal of only purchasing clothing made ethically or making my own for myself and children, insha’Allah. I hope that I can set a good example for my children, who will be the future generations and the caretakers of our world. I know they will hold me accountable on my new goal! Bismillah!

So with that said here is the pair of pants I made with my homemade pattern above, they fit so nicely and are super comfy for my baby boy. To make the pant pattern I simply based it off of another pair of pants he had with a similar knit fabric. I was also pretty brave and dusted off the good ole’ serger to sew them up so they’d have a nice finish on the inside.

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Also here are two more pairs of pants that I made using the “Big Butt Baby Pants Pattern“. I found it slightly tricky to sew in the round gusset piece but it was a pretty satisfying project, so I made two, with a matching baby bib to boot! The baby bib was also a self drafted pattern. They are so cute masha’Allah but my husband doesn’t agree with my colour choices haha. But that is the fun thing about having babies right, we Mamas get to dress them without any protesting :).

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DIY Wall Art

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Let out your inner artist with these fun to make canvas paintings! You can spell out words or your name or even make fun shapes and pictures.

Supplies:

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Step 1: Cut about a 2 inch piece of painter’s tape from the tape roll. Then cut this piece into 3 strips. You will use these strips to create your design. Repeat as many times as needed to complete your picture.

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Step 2: Be creative and create your own masterpiece!

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Step 4: Paint your picture! You can paint within the lines or go for an abstract look and just apply random streaks of paint all over the canvas.

Step 5: Before the paint dries, carefully peel off the painter’s tape to reveal your design.

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Step 6: Enjoy!

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Arabic Alphabet Wall Mural

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This was a collaborative art mural project that I set up for my 3 girls. It was definitely a lesson in teamwork and there were a few tears, but I love how they learned about the importance of sharing, kindness and patience with their siblings.

Supplies:

  • paper
  • pencil
  • tape
  • crayons

Step 1: If you don’t have a sheet of paper large enough for a mural, then tape a few together, like we did.

Step 2: Draw bubbles letters from Alif to Ya with a pencil.

Step 3: Tape your paper to the wall.

Step 4: Colour!

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Arabic Number Glitter Rocks

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We had collected some smooth rocks by the shore earlier this summer. We weren’t sure what to do with them but I noticed my two preschool girls love to use them for counting. They can both count in English up to 20 or more but I would like to teach them some Arabic as well. These are super easy to make and a lot of fun to play with.

Supplies:

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All you need to do is write the numbers on in Arabic using glitter glue. I found it helpful to draw the outline of the numbers first before filling them in. You can also get creative and draw some pictures on the rocks to create story stones (that’s what we plan to do next!).

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Here are some ways you can use these number rocks in learning:

  • COUNTING: Counting with gems or other small counters (see below)
  • MATCHING: Writing English numbers on a piece of paper and placing the stones on them to match OR drawing dots on a piece of paper and placing the stones on them to match.
  • GAME: Placing the stones in a bowl and each player picks a stone, if they say the name correctly they get to keep it. The one with the most stones at the end wins!
  • MEMORY: Making two sets of stones, place them all face down and play a matching memory game. Say the name of your matched numbers correctly when you flip them over, and you get to keep them. The one with the most pairs at the end wins!

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