Making Arabic Learning Materials Colorful and Interesting
Asalaam ‘Alaikum Everyone and Ramadan Mubarrak!
Now, I could have not post until Ramadan is over – but I hate to admit it – we are still trying to work hard and get through our school days. As much as I’d love to take a break (haven’t learned how to successfully yet!) – we just can’t. Anyway, on the Arabic Learning Materials yahoo group lately, there has been quite a bit of discussion about images and making learning materials interesting – like those materials used for teaching children English. It can be done – let’s get that straight right now – it just isn’t quick or easy. However, with a little work – your classroom (or home learning area) can actually rival anything you can purchase outside. And no – you do not have to be an expert, either.
Last year we had our “school room” upstairs but since we have started this year, I have found it easier to have the school room right near the kitchen so I can move in between tasks easier (when I need to). Unfortunately I gave up a lot of wall space in this move (but, you win some and you lose some). I am now finding other ways to make the room interesting.
Anyway, last year I made a really nice poster for fruits and vegetables in Arabic. How did I do it? First of all, I recommend that you put up larger pieces of poster paper – colors are always helpful – and place them where you want to put your “poster”. I found many nice clipart images of fruits and vegetables here:
This website has other printable items – items around the house, etc. that you can also make posters of. Search through their site here and see what they have:
What other vegetables and fruits I wanted to add (and knew in Arabic) I got the clipart from other misc. sites – you can always do a search in google. Now, of course, if you have a color printer and don’t mind using ink – you can always just do a search for pictures on the internet and simply print them out – but I didn’t want to use too much ink. After printing these pages out, I colored each fruit and vegetable item and then cut them out around the edges. If you have children that are willing and able to help you with this task – they can do all the coloring 🙂 All I did next was tape up the items all over the poster paper – trying to find a nice layout. I then printed on white strips of paper the names of each fruit and vegetable in both English and Arabic (you can always do it just in Arabic). I cut out each name and placed it beneath the fruits and veggies they represented. I know this may not sound like it – but in the end the poster really looked classy (I wish I had taken a picture, but I took it down before I thought about it). If you want ideas on how to make bulletin boards more inviting and colorful – I’m sure you can find information like that either online or in a book somewhere. Use those ideas and implement them while making your Arabic materials. You just need to be a little creative!
Now I have actually been working on some materials lately – but just haven’t had the free time to upload them to the Yemenlinks website. I am hoping perhaps just after Eid I will do so (insha’Allah). I greatly improved the Arabic Train document (see above). I made it a lot larger – I think they are now 8 1/2 inches from top to bottom (not obvious in the picture) and it looks more crisp. Insha’Allah when that is uploaded it would make a nice addition to any classroom or schoolroom, insha’Allah. What I can do – if anyone is interested – is I can leave some of the cars blank at the end. Then, each year to personalize your room – if you are a school teacher – you can have cars attached at the end of the train and put each child’s name in your class on them to personalize it. At the beginning of a new year, you can take the names down and add new ones. Let me know if there is an interest in this.
Another few items I have been working on – I have created a poster (see above) of the letters written in their different positions. I have also made writing practice pages for each letter and its different forms. I will also (insha’Allah) be uploading them after Eid.
Here’s a nice project we have been working on – I like it so much we are going to continue (Insha’Allah). We are making alphabet books. Essentially we do some nice artwork project first (my kids do these routinely because they like coloring so much). I must admit – you found out – I actually colored this one! Anyway, I glue the art page to a page of construction paper then I cut out the template for the letter we are working on (check the Yemenlinks site for sandpaper letter template) and glue it on top of the art page. After this is done, I laminate this front page of the book and another construction paper for the back of the book. I use construction paper for the entire book and glue pictures that start with that letter. Here’s what I do: First, I go through the dictionaries I have (since my knowledge of Arabic is still quite limited) and find any words that begin with that letter – words that I can easily find pictures for.
I then do a search on google or yahoo for images for that word. I like to have two sets of pictures for each word. Here’s why – I also create flashcards and make a set of flashcards for each word that is in the book. Usually I try to find nice colored photographs of the item and make those into flashcards and then I try to find another set of pictures that my child can color to put in the book. Then – and this may be difficult for some of you – since I can read and write Arabic – I write out the word for the item under the picture in the book and on the flashcards. I’d love to type them up – but my typing in Arabic is ridiculous and the amount of time I have available to spend on projects has diminished considerably with homeschooling. Insha’Allah – someday – make dua for me.
Anyway – now it is made – now what do I do with it? Well, we make a daily review and lesson using both the book and the flashcards. First, we look over the flashcards to learn the new vocabulary. Then, I pull out my poster for Arabic letter position and also some of the Arabic letter position practice pages for the letter (I try to get them to practice each day writing). I tie in with the Arabic letter book a lesson to learn how the letter is written in its different forms. I also tie in with these lessons a lesson to learn the different vowel marks (when I write the flashcards and in the book, I write all vowel marks at this point). So, after I teach my daughters the different vowel marks, we go through the flashcards again – but this time they have to identify which vowel mark is used and what it sounds like. We separate the words into different piles – sorting them by vowel marks on the letter we are learning.
We keep rotating what we are learning each day. So, one day we may look at the flashcards and another day we will try to see how many words they can remember from the Alphabet book. When I made the flashcards, I also wrote each word on a small separate piece of paper and laminated it as well (see above). Then, as their skills progressed I would give them a pile of words written on paper and the flashcards. The girls then had to match the words with the words written on the bottom of the flashcard. This really helps them learn to discern between different letters and strengthens their letter recognition skills. My daughters actually loved this part of the lesson.
Now, I did not “encourage this” but I after my daughters went through the flashcards and matched the words – I caught them “misbehaving”. They both stood on a chair (to reach the chalkboard) and without any requests actually started writing the words that were written on the flashcards – trying to practice actually writing words! Masha’Allah, I was so impressed – I just wish I had thought that one up! Give it a try – perhaps your child will enjoy it too, insha’Allah.
Anyway, once they make progress and learn the vocabulary – I make a new alphabet book for the next letter (I’m doing that right now).
One last item that I have made recently (and my girls really like) are a different type of writing practice tool. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it can be difficult getting your child to practice writing. I have found that letting them do it one day with pencil and another day with colored marker helps (they love that) – but still it can be trying! I found one day while browsing through a resale shop a box of letter practice pages in English. You actually used them with a drawing toy (like those created by Fisher Price, etc.) So, I decided to make some of my own – in Arabic. Here’s what they look like:
I will also be uploading these after Eid, insha’Allah. Anyway, after printing these off, you fold them in half. So, on one side your child has three letters to trace on the drawing toy on one side and on the other there is a picture and a letter with numbers showing which part to write and in what order. The nice thing is that since there are not hundreds of alifs on one page, it is less stressful for your child and the letters are large enough it is easier for them to trace more accurately. The girls actually like doing it over and over again! The trick is this – my children were so amazed that they could actually trace a picture and have it come out accurately. So – they loved using these and not only practiced writing the letters – but also tracing the picture. It was a great hit at my house, masha’Allah.
Well, I just thought I’d come out of hiding to share some of these ideas with you – since it has been on your minds lately. I hope insha’Allah – to be able to upload everything soon after Eid so you can benefit from them. Please nag – if necessary – but only after Eid!
Insha’Allah some of these ideas will prove useful to you. If they do prove useful – please share them with someone else – share a link to this blog or to the Yemenlinks website with others and join in the benefit of sharing knowledge.
Sumayyah Umm SAA