Ramadan - a time to celebrate
Ramadan is right around the corner, and many of us can remember how exciting that time is for our families. Everyone is slowly prepping their pantries, and brushing up on their arabic, all in the hope to meet the most blessed month full of rigour and determination. For adults, Ramadan is a time for contemplation and introspection. We prioritize aspects of our faith that we may have put on the back burner throughout the year. It's about more than just abstaining from food and water for a certain duration of time -- it's about making more of a sincere effort to get closer to God in all realms of our life. We starve our egos to feed our souls.
For our kids though, it's more of a time to celebrate our faith and as parents or older siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, we owe it to the youngest members of our community and family to keep the Ramadan spirit alive throughout the month. Think about it this way, as minorities living in the West, we don't get to experience the hype and excitement that surrounds the months preceding Christmas, or Easter. The stores and restaurants are not decked out in moons and stars. No one hangs "Ramadan Mubarak" signs in public spaces. There are no bright lights when it's Ramadan. So we have to take it upon ourselves to create that heightened sense of excitement and pride when it comes to our special holidays. So that our children have something to be proud of too. Something they can share with their friends, Muslim or not. Something they can remember forever as a time of family coming together, and faith being the stimulus.
So what better way to get in the Ramadan spirit than with these perfect activities for the kids!
1. Decorate the house
One of the easiest ways to get in the mood is to decorate. So why not get out the crafts box and start setting up the house so that the kids can get excited for what's about to come. Some perfect ideas for Ramadan decor include lanterns, moon and stars, mosques, and prayer mats.
This beautiful craft can be printed for free here
, and instructions can be found there too.
The tutorial for this craft can be found on helloholidays' website here
Play mosques/mosque colouring cut outs:
You can find free printables here
Why not create your own miniature mosques to put around the house? The tutorial for this one can be found here
3. Ramadan Calendars
Whether you want to mimic the Advent calendar type of vibe, or opt for a more practical option, there's always something you can work with depending on the age of your kids.
This beautiful and concise idea can be found here
, free to download and print. All you have to do is cut, glue, and assemble. It's up to you what you want to put in the envelopes, chocolates and treats, tasks, or simply reminders and prayers. Australian professor and academic, Susan Carland, shares her way of incorporating these calendars into Ramadan for her kids. She writes
"Marking off the days of Ramadan is a lot of fun for kids. The simple calendar I made for my children (felt pieces glued on to a black board) has little pockets, where I put a note with either a sweet or a date for the kids. The notes have changed over the years based on the age and knowledge of my children. When they were very small, the notes just said things like “Allah loves you so much!” and “In Ramadan, adult Muslims don’t eat or drink anything from before sunrise until sunset!”. As they grew older, I put in more advanced lessons or Qur’an verses. If we have guests, I ensure there are enough sweets or dates in the pocket for every child who visits. The children are not allowed to get the note or sweet until Maghrib time, as this helped create a sense of excitement for this time of day, even when they were too young to be fasting."
She also suggested how easy it was to make your own, simply with a hot glue gun, felt squares, and black card. Like this:
3. Good deed jars
Something to encourage during Ramdan is the desire to want to increase one's good deeds. For kids, why not make a fun activity out of it?
A tutorial for one can be found here
. And if you're looking for ideas for some good deeds to write down, here's
a great list.
4. 30 Days of giving
Silver Envelope has a great idea where she encourages her kids to give back in Ramadan. The project and all the free printables can be found here
5. Get kids involved in Sadaqah or charity work
Another major component of Ramadan is the increased love of charity. Whether that means helping the community at large and saving funds to donate to a big cause, or simply starting at home -- baking, collecting old toys and clothes and donating to local charities, holding toy drives with close friends. The list is endless.
Susan Carland mentions again
, the major importance this will play in the lives of your kids.
"Teaching your kids about sadaqah during Ramadan is one of the best ways to implement this trait in them from an early age, as they learn the importance of charity and the need to share with those who have less than they do. Giving in charity does not just have to be raising money for charities, but can be as simple and sincere as sharing iftar food with your neighbours. This has the added benefit of your children actively participating in da’wah and teaching others about Islam."
You can also help your kids to bake something for their teachers or neighbours. "Kids often want to share about Ramadan with their non-Muslim teachers, neighbours, friends or family members but don’t know how. We make cookies each year (or to make it even easier, you can buy plain round sweet cookies and decorate them with icing and sweets), put them in clear little bags and attach a little note about Ramadan with string or ribbon (be sure to list ingredients on the back of the note in case of allergies). Then we deliver them with a smile!"
6. Dua books
Another fantastic idea is to create a dua or prayer book with you kids. Here's
a wonderful tutorial. Why not make memorizing certain prayers a lot more fun and exciting?
Samirah of "The Muslimah Guide" talks about how important this activity is.
"My daughter is at the age where she knows what she wants and will do anything to annoy you until you get it for her. She can’t walk pass a shop without pointing to a doll that she exclaims will make her “so so happy” and that she will never ask for anything else again. After falling for that one too many times, I realized I had to start teaching them to be grateful for what they have. Kids can sometimes act entitled and as parents, it’s our jobs not to help them keep their feet firmly on the ground and remind them that they have truly been blessed.
We may not have what others have, but we also have to remember that we have more than many. Teaching the concept of gratitude is certainly not an easy task especially because preschoolers are naturally self centered. Nonetheless, it is a crucial life skill to learn. In fact, research shows that gratitude benefits both adults and kids alike on a basic level. Studies reveal that cultivating gratitude can increase happiness and cause individuals to live happier, more satisfied lives and enjoy increased levels of self-esteem, hope, empathy and optimism. Other studies have shown that kids who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and family."
If none of these suit your fancy, here's a list of 49 other ways
you can get the kids involved this Ramadan.
Here's to a month of faith, family, excitement, and self-growth!