twelve children’s activities for hajj

eid ul adha doesn’t seem to get as much attention
as eid ul fitr after a month of fasting.
we can get in the hajj spirit
if we begin delving into and commemorating the hajj
— the annual pilgrimage to mecca —
from the first of dhul hijjah,
so that by the time the beginning of the hajj rolls around
on the 8th of dhul hijjah
we’ll be able to experience the hajj vicariously through some of these activities
up through the final day on the 12th,
when we can celebrate eid al adha in the proper spirit, inshaAllah.

ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ وَلْيُوفُوا نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْيَطَّوَّفُوا بِالْبَيْتِ الْعَتِيقِ

Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House.
surah alHajj 22:29

  1. discuss the virtues and recommended acts of the first 10 days of dhul hijjah

    if we can’t actually go on hajj we can still race to do good deeds during this blessed time, e.g. fasting, takbeer (Allahu akbar), dhikr (rememberance of Allah), duas (supplications), tawbah (repentence) and abstaining from sin, and doing other righteous deeds

  2. review the pillars of hajj

    1. being in the state of/and wearing ihram
    2. wuqoof or standing on arafat
    3. tawaaf or walking around the kaba seven times
    4. sa’i or walking between safa and marwa seven times
  3. prepare for hajj

    pretend to pack for the hajj. what will you need for the trip? how much will your trip cost? where will you travel from?

    hajj clothes for women

  4. adopt a hajji

    send them off at the airport. welcome them back with food and gifts. invite them for dinner to discuss their hajj travels, blessings and revelations.

  5. make a hajj map

    keep track of where the pilgrims are during the hajj.

    hajj map

  6. make a hajj guide book

    complete with pictures and a short description of each location.

  7. read the history of the hajj

    including the building of the kaba, hajar and zamzam water, the story of the prophet ibrahim’s sacrifice, and the prophet’s hajj. i like goodword books My First Quran Storybook and Goodnight Stories from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saws)

    My First Quran Storybook

    Goodnight Stories from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

  8. do a mock hajj

    whether it’s a large scale event at your school or local park or small scale in your living room.

  9. recite the talbiya

    labbaikallahumma labbaik
    labbaika laa shareeka laka labbaik
    innal hamda wan na’mata laka wal mulka
    la shareeka lak

    here i am O Allah, here i am
    there is no partner for You, here I am
    verily all praise is for You, and every bounty is from You, and all dominion is Yours
    You have no partner

  10. read the prophet’s last sermon out loud

  11. take part in a community zabiha

  12. send out kaba pop-up cards for eid al adha

and for a lil sumthin extra
here’s an active hajj song for the little ones to move their body to
(sung to “she’ll be coming around the mountain”):

  1. we will all go to mecca on the hajj
    we will all go to mecca on the hajj
    we will all go to mecca
    we will all go to mecca
    we will all go to mecca on the hajj

  2. we’ll wear only two white garments on the hajj
  3. we will walk around the kaba on hajj
  4. we will walk between safa and marwa on the hajj
  5. we will pray on arafat on the hajj
  6. we will drink the zam zam water on the hajj
  7. we’ll throw pebbles at the jamarat on the hajj
  8. we will sacrifice for Allah on the hajj

what hajj activities do you plan to do this year?

one pumpkin, two pumpkin, three pumpkin, four…

we met up with veteran ihsan homeschooler raida and her crew
to enjoy a crisp fall morning at butler’s orchard‘s pumpkin harvest days.
a hay ride took us to and from the pumpkin patch
where we picked a pumpkin each.

after taking those back to the car,
we pumped the pumps to float the rubber duckies to the other pump,

romped in the hay maze,

fed the goats,
— the sheep, chickens and bunnies thought the morning was still too chilly to play
and stayed bunched together cozy in their respective sheds, coops and hutches —

played a few carnival-like target games,
skipped the hay barn
— it was haywire over there and who wants hay in their hair anyway? —
to ride down the slides a few times.

we ended our day by finding our way through the corn maze,

rewarding ourselves at the finish
by sinking our teeth into autumn-chilled rain-washed golden-delicious apples.
just another day at the farm.

what’s your favorite thing to do at your local pick-your-own farm?

going wild at world animal day

new gecko species: gekko cutiepieus

we celebrated world animal day at the national geographic museum.
we spotted toot and puddle in the courtyard as we were on our way to
a short multimedia presentation by greg marshall,
the national geographic explorer who invented the crittercam.
he explained that he got the idea from watching remoras
— little fish that attach themselves to other fish for food, transportation and/or protection —
latched onto sharks and he pondered that it must be amazing to be a remora
and swim along with the sharks, seeing everything the sharks see.
it turns out, according to marshall, that sharks are pretty boring.
out of the hundreds of hours of shark footage,
no one has yet to see them feed.
maybe sharks aren’t the ravenous predators that humans think.
marshall and his team tested the crittercam on themselves,
even marshal’s son, and animals in captivity before trying it on animals in the wild.
scientists have corrected many of their assumptions about animals
after watching these videos of animals in their natural habitat.
marshall showed a few examples in his videos, for example:

  • penguins hunt solo and, like eagles do from above,
    spot their prey from far below the ice and then strike.

  • most animals can’t see red so they put red l.e.d. lights on the crittercam.
    however squids can, and they aggressively attacked the device
    until it came off and floated away.
    marshall showed some spectacular footage
    — after they attached the crittercam to another squid,
    videotaping during the daylight hours with the l.e.d. off. —
    the squids communicated
    — so scientists think —
    by a luminescent morse code, changing the color of their skin
    like we can quickly turn on and off a light switch.

after the talk we headed into the main hall for some more fun.
sanaa decorated and self-addressed a post card for jean pennycook to send to her from antarctica. we got to put it in jean’s hand! that’s some mail we can look forward to.

next, we learned a bit about how geckos have no eyelids,
and thus lick their eyes to keep them moist.
that was kind of hard for the girls to replicate with gecko masks on,
so they settled on licking a green lollipop decorated with a gecko eye,
and pocketing some gecko magnets and tattoos.
we’ll have to go back on the museum’s free wednesdays to see the live gecko exhibit.

lastly we experienced splash! animals.
set to animal-inspired music,
two artists joined together to energetically paint kaleidoscopic portraits
of endangered animals as the audience tried to guess the animal.

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crocheting at clearwater

at our second monthly session
of the homeschool fiber arts class
at clearwater nature center,
sanaa showed off her first knitting project,
aya perfected her spinning technique
and rahmah decided to take up crochet.

duaa looks on as rahmah crochets en plein air

solar-powered orangutan

mr. daniel helps the girls test their orangutans

as a part of the many events of USA science and engineering festival,
devry university in arlington, VA hosted a FREE build a solar-robot event.
when we arrived, the room was already bustling with activity
as other science and engineering lovers worked on their orangutans.

each girl was given a peppy orangutan robotikit
and we sat down to put our engineering-thinking caps on and get to work
connecting, inserting and snapping on the different pieces of the little machine.
going step by step, it took us about an hour

— the engine in rahmah’s seemed to have malfunctioned,
and even with mr. daniel’s tinkering wouldn’t work properly,
so, chris, a kind devry student quickly pieced together a replacement for her —

and then the girls spent the rest of the time testing their little machines
with satisfied smiles of personal achievement
as they watched the yellow-faced orange orangutans go
hand-over-hand on a piece of string.

afterward, mr. daniel commented that i must have been a master sergeant.
i guess he was impressed with my skills
in guiding the simultaneous assembly of three orangutans.
i’ll take that as a compliment, sir!

after all that left-brain activity,
we finished the rest of the brisk sunny day exercising our other mental hemisphere
with a romp through the bonsai & penjing museum,
marveling at a special exhibit of multi-hued orchids,
and then delighting our senses in the herb garden at the national arboretum.


what USA science and engineering festival events are you attending?

a journey in song from quark to cosmos

we had the pleasure of attending the opening event of
the inaugural USA science and engineering festival:
powers of ten: a journey in song from quarks to cosmos.
while i’m more used to the uptempo pace of
they might be giants rockin’ out about science…

…this concert was mostly a piano-accompanied chorale work
that showcased the compositions of david haines.
school chorus groups from around the DC area
— including fort belvoir elementary school, loudoun county day school, suitland high school, and thomas jefferson high school for science and technology —
as well as other groups from the DC metro area, new jersey and massachusetts
performed mr. haines heady and often witty work.

as the choruses progressed through haines’ songs,
the words to the songs were projected on the overhead screen
along with kid-made illustrations.
that certainly made the songs easier to digest for all ages.

there were several standouts,
like jacqui sutton jammin with a jazz trio about virus and later DNA.
have you ever heard a jazz song with deoxyribonucleic acid in the chorus?
several soloist from suitland high school were especially delightful, as well.

i’m looking forward to attending more events during the USA science and engineering festival in the coming weeks.

will i see you on the mall for the expo on 10.23/24?

majeeds visit the white house

apparently the obamas didn’t get the message we were coming
and we missed them while they were out at sasha and malia’s soccer game.
oh well.
we had fun playing eye-spy in each room,
and learning from and talking with the secret service
about the history of each colorful, ornate room.