Category Archives: Activities At Home

5 Fun and EDUCATIONAL Activities for Toddlers

By: Mona Ismaeil

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Children are sponges, sucking up all the world has to offer. They are always learning. Even when you least expect, they are learning. They are learning about relationships, about themselves, about you, and about the world around them.  Children learn in many different ways. Everyone has heard about the different learners and surely you know how you learn best but do you know how your child learns? Most children don’t fall into one single style of learning until they are school aged. Even then, they could have multiple learning styles. At least, it is harder to pinpoint it until then. One learning style that all children have in common is through experiences, and authentic play. Children learn so much through play. It may not look like it, but it’s true.

Here are some fun activities you can do with your child to help them learn different skills and concepts without them realizing they are learning! It’s like slipping veggies into their meals without them noticing! Ssshhhhhhhhhhh, it’ll be our little secret!

 Alphabet: Letter animals

This is a tried and tested activity. If it was up to my daughter she would do a letter every day! For this activity you turn the letters into animals, or objects that start with that letter. It’s a fun hands-on activity which gets their creative juices flowing. Depending on the age of your child, you will do the majority of the cutting and such but toddlers are great at choosing what color construction paper to use and they are great at gluing!

Letter animals

Another idea is to put a number of items in a bag. Some that start with a specific letter and some that don’t. Have your child put their hand in the bag and pull out a mystery item. They then tell you if it starts with the letter you are working on that day.  If it does, great! If not, discuss which letter it does start with.  For example. If you are working on the letter “S”. In the bag of mystery items you may put a sock, straw, star, spoon, teddy bear, blocks, paint brush, etc.

 

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Numbers: Musical Numbers

I try to keep my activities fairly simple so that we can focus on the concept. To practice numbers, I made these very simple number cards. They are so simple that you can use them for pretty much anything and everything! One way to use these cards will get your little one moving, dancing and learning. What a great combo!

  1. Number your cards. Go up as high as your child knows and perhaps a couple numbers higher. This will challenge them a little.
  2. Choose a fabulous song they would love to move to. I like “Happy” by Pharell Williams (The minions version)
  3. Scatter the cards on the ground in random order.
  4. There are a couple ways to play:
    1. Play the music and have them dance and jump from number to number. When you stop the music they go to the nearest number, and identify that number. You can then have them count to that number.
    2. Play “I Spy”. You tell them the number, then they have to find it. After that have them do an action for that number. Example, “I spy number 5”. Then do 5 jumping jacks.  Or 7 wiggles. Or give me 1 hug, etc.
    3. Clean up by counting and putting the numbers in order or count backwards and clean them up.

 The Environment: Scavenger Hunts

I tried this for the first time in Mid-March and my daughter just loved it! I searched on Pintrest for “Winter Scavenger Hunts”. I found a simple one for her age. There are many options to choose from and you can do one for every season. I read over it with her so she would have an idea of what she was looking for, gave her a clip board and off we went. She was excited right from the start. She would stop me to point out things on her list. It was a great opportunity for us to talk about the changing seasons, animals, trees, and for us to get out to enjoy the sun together.

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hand print animalsAnimals: Hand Print Critters

We like to get a bit messy in our house and painting is an essential activity for us. I came across this fun painting activity while searching for an activity to learn about animals. I love it because it gives you the chance to get messy but also to discuss what the animals look like. You can discuss the difference between hair and fur. Talk about paws, claws and feet. You can discuss where the animals live, what they eat and so much more. The possibilities are endless!

 

Life: Pretend

“Monkey see, monkey do”. This couldn’t be truer for children. Make-believe and playing pretend are a fantastic way for children to learn about life and day to day activities. If you really watch your child play make believe, you’d be surprised at how they mimic you. They may pretend to be a mom the dolls are their babies. They may pretend to be the teacher and line their teddy bears up like their students. They may even give a poor little teddy bear a time out.  Sit down for a cup of invisible tea and cookies and talk to your child about nutrition. Be a patient in your child’s medical clinic and talk to them about the body and how it functions. Allow your inner child to be set free for a bit!

What activities do you love to do with your toddler? What works best for them? Share your tips and tricks. 

 About the Author

Mona Ismaeil: Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

 

Gardening On A Budget

By Sana Athar

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Spring has nearly sprung and with it brings the question: to plant or not to plant. Oftentimes people think of gardening as an expensive hobby but I have found it to be a relaxing activity that makes me feel good. It’s exciting to watch your plants grow and when it starts to fruit, it’s almost the same joy as holding a newborn in your arms.

We follow up on our gardening series with tips and tricks for gardening on a budget to help save money while keeping plants in perfect condition.

Recycle

There are many ways to use recycled containers in garden; as watering can, for growing seed or as planter. Here are some things you can use in gardening.

Milk jugs: as a planter or watering can

Plastic food container with lid: as green house or for seed starting

Paper or plastic cups: really good to start seed in. Just make sure to make some holes through a pin or pencil for drainage.

Egg Cartons: A personal favourite. I tear up both sides then line one side with plastic wrap and put the other one on it and fill it with my compost and seed starter. It can be planted directly in garden because of being compost friendly.

Egg shells: I haven’t used this as of yet but people use egg shell as seed starter pot.

Shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes: all can be crushed up and its pulp can be used as seedling starter.

Yogurt cups: as seed pot

Seed trays: sold at dollar stores

Plastic watering bottle: cut in half and use as pot

Aluminum containers: use as planters

Aluminum tray: I use it as seed pot tray. Cases of soda and canned products can also be used as tray to hold all seed pots

Mulch

Instead of overspending on mulch, we can use recycled paper, cardboard boards, and newspaper as mulch. Grass clipping are excellent mulch as well. You can also save on mulch and potting soil by getting discount bags that have tears in them. Don’t miss any sale.

Harvest seeds

Although seed are sold at dollar stores as well, you can try harvesting your own to save some more money.

For fleshy vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons, pick them when they are fully ripe. Scoop out the seeds, along with the gel surrounding them. Put the seeds and gel in a glass jar with some water. Stir or swirl the mixture twice a day. The mixture will ferment and the seeds should sink to the bottom within five days. Pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds and spread them out to dry on paper towels.

Saving pepper seeds is even easier. Allow some fruits to stay on the plants until they become fully ripe and start to wrinkle. Remove the seeds from the peppers and spread them out to dry.

Beans and peas need to be left on the vine until the pods are dry and crackly.

Corn should also be left to dry on the stalk until the kernels dent.

Potatoes (with eyes) can be half dipped in water held by tooth picks just above water. It grows its roots in a month.

Onion and garlic can be grown from their bulb. Some are grown in water until they grow new greens and some are harvested for their seed and re-grown again.

Not every avocado pit will produce roots, so your best bet is to try two or three pits at once. Leaves will appear in few weeks.

For cabbage, place leftover base and leaves in a bowl and add a small amount of water in the bottom. When roots and new leaves begin to appear, transplant the cabbage into a garden.

The next option is to trade plants and seeds or share with neighbours.

Buy Perennials

Buying perennials will save money in long run. Because it will grow by itself year after year.  Although they cost more in beginning but with proper care it will be ease of mind to see them grow every year. Examples of some of such plants are tulips, lilies, roses, daisy, hydrangea, cornflower and lavender among others.

DIY

Weed and Bug Killer

DIY weed or bug killer use safe ingredients and there are many ideas you can find online. Some people use sugar mixed with cinnamon and chili powder which feeds your soil and kills weeds.  This mix also keeps bugs at bay. People also use eggshells around the base of the plants and edge of the garden to keep snails and slugs away.

Vinegar can also kill weeds be careful though, it kills grass too.

Boiling water and bleach can also be used as an effective weed killer.

Fertilizer 

DY fertilizers are easy to make at home.

Banana peel is excellent fertilizers just chop into small pieces and voila! Put in your pot. It provides Potassium.

Coffee and tea grounds: Acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love them due to its high nitrogen content.

Dead leaves, glass clippings and weed are high in nitrogen and an excellent fertilizer.

Epsom salt are rich in magnesium .

Egg shells are great for providing calcium to plants. Wash them first, and then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers.

Remember, gardening is a labour of love, it takes time and patience but the results are truly worth the wait.

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.

Wipe-off Islamic Calendar Craft

By Sukaina Imran

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Cold snowy days when you are cooped indoors is when the ‘I’m BORED!’ monster comes out full force. To keep your little ones occupied at home and get a dose of Islamic knowledge on the side, this easy DIY Islamic calendar craft is a treat. You get to spend some quality bonding time with your children and it’s not just a calendar that you make, you are also making a memory of a cosy evening spent together.

The supplies are easily found, you can buy a dry-erase calendar from any dollar or craft store, use that as your template and get crafting.

These pictures are self-explanatory in themselves.

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About the Author: 

Sukaina Imran is a Montessori trained teacher from Pakistan. She moved to the US after getting married and worked in an Islamic school in Texas for three years. She also has a child psychology diploma. After the birth of her first child, Sukaina quit formal work and decided to put her Montessori teachings to bring her children closer to Islam

Minecraft –More Than Just A Game!

By Anisa Tayab

Minecraft

A typical day in my household always includes a story about a Creeper, an Ender-Dragon or Herobine.  And like most moms, I have no idea what my kids are talking about.  Chances are if you have a child who plays video games, they are playing Minecraft!

Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies for PC’s and millions more on iPads and Android Tablets. Microsoft purchased Minecraft from Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars last year and the creator of Minecraft Markus Persson out-bid Jay Z and Beyonce on a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills.  Minecraft is everywhere.  If you have not heard of it, you really are living under a rock!

I’m not sure how the craze began in my house but I remember downloading the game for my son and then him begging us to buy the full edition.  Still not understanding the game I turned to Facebook and asked my friends for their advice.  A few friends told me to steer clear of the dark side, while others told me why it was so great.

Creative Mode

The game has two modes; Creative and Survival.  In both modes, players (a character named Steve in the game) use their creativity to build.  Players usually begin by creating a home and then expand their world by creating other buildings in a community.  In this game of virtual blocks, players use their creativity to build a world the way they want.  They first must chop down trees for wood, mine for coal, iron and other elements that are used throughout the game to make different types of blocks. You will also see animals roaming around freely, you can make them your pets, let them live or use them to make food.

My son has built amusement parks with roller coasters, bowling alleys with multiple lanes, a school and anything he wants.  Creative mode allows players to determine how to place blocks strategically resulting in a finished project.  Sounds like a lot of future engineers to me!

Survival Mode

In Survival mode, the purpose of the game is to survive.  It has all the features of creative but is more challenging and frightening.  Players use their creations to hide and escape from all the enemies in Minecraft.  They also mine to look for items that will protect them like swords and armour.  Survival mode is where you will find Creepers, zombies, spiders and skeletons.

A creeper is that ackward looking, pixilated, green figure you see roaming around on your child’s screen. If you get too close to it, it will blow up and harm you.  Skeletons also blow up while spiders and zombies hit the player.  The player must destroy these creatures to live.  If the player is destroyed, he/she quickly respawns (comes back to life).

What To Be Wary Of

If you are going to let your kids enter the world of Minecraft there are a few things you need to be weary of.  The most important one is that it is addicting.  My kids will play for hours if I don’t monitor their time.  It’s a fast moving game where a day lasts only 20 minutes.  Your child will always want more time to finish building something or looking for something.

If you let your kids play together in one world, they will fight.  It doesn’t matter how well they get along in real life, in Minecraft there will be problems.  They will bicker about what direction to go in, who found the diamond sword first and who has more experience blocks.  The constant bickering has made me go crazy that I have shut the game off a few times.  I have since learned to take a deep breath and let them figure out their own problems like they do on the playground.

Some parents don’t want their children exposed to the violence in the game.  Parents should be able to judge if their child can handle the game or not.

Why I let my kids play

My boys are 8 and 5. I let them play Minecraft because it’s teaching them certain aspects of the real world.  It’s teaching them you need materials to build and is encouraging them to go find those materials.  It is expanding their creativity while they attempt at and then later succeed at building a more difficult creation.  It’s teaching them how to plan, organize, execute, succeed and sometimes fail all in one game.

I don’t think my kids would have any interest in building if it wasn’t for Minecraft.  They have many Lego sets that are sitting in their closet but they prefer Minecraft because there are no instructions.   They write their own instructions.

I read an article that suggested Minecraft is preparing today’s kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  With technology changing so quickly, there is no way for us know what skills will be sought after and maybe the millions of people playing Minecraft are on to something the rest of us don’t understand (yet).

About the author:

Anisa Tayab blogs at That Crazy Mom.

Ed’s Note: Welcome Back to School

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Salam Aleykum Sisters!

After a summer break the team at Muslimmoms.ca are raring to get back to sharing their tips, tricks and experiences with you all. For the month of August we are very excited to be exploring ‘Back to School Theme! We have quite a number articles coming your way this month and we’re sure you’ll find them helpful as you prepare your little ones (and yourselves) for school.

Keeping Organized

We know that summer is not yet over, but we do want to help make that transition from summer chaos to school routine as easy and painless as possible. One great article we will have is about tips for keeping your children organized. This will be very important for making your life easier!

The long lost of art of Penmanship and its importance in our times will be talked about as well!

Keeping Educated

Choosing the right school for your child is the first step in a great education. It is important that you have the right knowledge to choose. Will you enroll your child in public school? Private school? Islamic school? Home school? Whichever you choose you should know the pros and cons of each and we are happy to help you with that.

We are excited to offer tips for how to help your child study at home. There is often a disconnect in the studying and learning that takes place in school and what continues at home. For your child to reach their full potential we need to lessen that gap.

Learning isn’t just for children. If you are a mom going back to school, we have some great advice and tips to help you on your journey as well.

Keeping Healthy

A healthy diet is vital for your child’s growth and development. We know packing a lunch every day can be tricky so we have compiled some ideas to help keep your creative juices flowing.

Being healthy means more than just food. It is emotional and mental health as well, we’ll tackle the issue of bullying at school as well.

Keeping Busy

We know that you’ll never be bored but on the off chance you have extra time, we do have some great ideas for how to keep busy while children are back in school.

 

The Muslimmoms.ca Team would like to wish all students a blessed, educational and wonderful school year!

Grow Your Own Vegetable – II

By Sana Athar

Grow your own vegetables

Continuing our gardening series, today we will focus on five more veggies and herbs that you can grow in your backyard.

Lettuce

This is a half-hardy vegetable that you can keep growing all season long by planting one small crop at a time. Days to maturity tend to be short. Lettuce is a cool-season crop that grows well in the spring and fall in most areas. Lettuce seedlings will even tolerate a light frost. Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost date for earliest crop. Harden off seedlings for about one week, and transplant outside between 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after last spring frost.

Lettuce will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day—to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate. Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, in the heat of the summer, may reduce bolting.

Lettuce should be harvested when full size, but just before maturity. You want it young and tender.Before maturity, you can harvest leaf lettuce by simply removing outer leaves so that the centre leaves can continue to grow. Mature lettuce gets bitter and woody and it will go bad quickly, so check your garden everyday. As time passes, you will want to cut the whole plant from the ground. It’s best to harvest in the morning before leaves have been exposed to sun.

Grow Your Own Lettuce

Mint

Mint is a perennial with very fragrant, toothed leaves and tiny purple, pink, or white flowers. It has a fruity, aromatic taste. The mint family has many varieties, but it will take over your garden,so be careful where you plant it.For growing outdoors, plant one or two purchased plants (or one or two cuttings from a friend) about 2 feet apart in moist soil. One or two plants will easily cover the ground. Mint should grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall. In the garden, plant mint near cabbage and tomatoes.If you don’t want an entire bed of mint, buy some plants or take some cuttings from a friend and plant them in containers filled with potting mix enriched with compost. Remember to keep the plants in a sunny spot.

Minimal care is needed for mint. For outdoor plants, use a light mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and keep the leaves clean. For indoor plants, be sure to water them regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. Right before flowering, cut the stems 1 inch from the ground. You can harvest one mint plant 2-3 times in one growing season. You can also just pick the leaves as you need them. You can also grow the plants indoors for fresh leaves throughout the winter.

Onion

Onions are a cold-season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness.Onions grow well on raised beds or raised rows at least 4 inches high. Select a location with full sun where your onions won’t be shaded by other plants.Onion seeds are short-lived. If planting seeds indoors, start with fresh seeds each year. Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before transplanting.

Generally, onions do not need consistent watering if mulch is used. About one inch of water per week (including rain water) is sufficient. If you want sweeter onions, water more. Cut or pull any onions that send up flower stalks; this means that the onions have “bolted” and are done. Be sure to harvest in late summer, before cool weather. Mature onions may spoil in fall weather.

Grow your own peas

Peas

Peas are a cool-season crop, and come in three separate varieties : Sweet peas, Snow peas and Snap peas. To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil,and mulch well. Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F (7 degree C). Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced. Keep your peas well picked to encourage more pods to develop.

Pick peas in the morning after the dew has dried. They are crispiest then. Always use two hands when you pick peas. Secure the vine with one hand and pull the peas off with your other hand.

Grow your own bell pepper

Pepper

Peppers are a tender, warm-season crop. Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last spring frost date. After the danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings outdoors.

Water one to two inches per week, but remember peppers are extremely heat sensitive. If you live in a warm or desert climate, watering everyday may be necessary. For larger fruit, spray the plants with a solution of one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water, once when it begins to bloom, and once ten days later.

Harvest as soon as peppers reach desired size. The longer bell peppers stay on the plant, the sweeter they become and the greater their Vitamin C content. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut peppers clean off the plant for the least damage.

Stay tuned for the third and last part of our gardening series. We hope it starts you on your gardening journey and you can enjoy the fresh, green right from your own garden!

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.

Images: 123RF

How to Keep Your Kids Busy During the Summer

By Rahila Ovais

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As the end of the school years is fast approaching us, I bet most moms are fretting already about how to keep their kids busy during summer vacations; especially if you don’t have any plans to go out of town during this time.  Since this year’s summer vacation will start in the midst of Ramadan, it presents us with an excellent opportunity to get the kids to brush up on their Islamic studies. Besides reciting Quran everyday as part of their Ramadan activities they can also

  • Memorize a new surah a week
  • Learn a new duaa a week
  • Learn the 99 names of Allah
  • Read a new story of a Prophet a day
  • Read a chapter a day of Prophet Muhammad’s life story
  • Check out Sukainaz CraZy Creations for some fun Islamic arts and crafts

 

At the end of Ramadan there will of course be Eid parties and get-togethers with family and friends, leaving us with lots of time to enjoy the rest of the summer;

  • Visit a local farm for berry picking and other adventures like corn maze, farmer’s market etc.
  • When the heat is on, there is nothing better than to visit a water park/splash pad or hit the beach or go swimming at your local pool.
  • Have a picnic or two; you don’t even have to go too far.  Little kids would be happy to have a small picnic in their own backyard.
  • Take the kids to a zoo.
  • Be a tourist in your own town and visit a historical site or visit a public garden or take advantage of museum discounts.
  • There is lots happening in the city during summer; attend a free event or go to the most popular summer festivals or check out a neighborhood festival.
  • Watch a movie under the stars

Check out more summer activities ideas here: http://muslimmoms.ca/10-fun-and-frugal-summer-activities-for-kids/

About the Author

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

Grow Your Own Vegetables I

By Sana Athar

Grow your own vegetable garden

With the weather clearing up and the sun out longer, many aspiring gardeners start feeling overwhelmed with questions with no one to answer them. Where and how to start? What to do? How to plant? How much sunlight is required? When is the planting season and when is the harvesting season? In this four part series, we will be covering how to cultivate your own vegetable garden.

Get started

First and foremost we need to know where we want to plant our vegetables. Except few vegetables like lettuce and spinach, most require almost six hrs of sunlight. A south facing location is serves best in this case. Before planting, fill your garden with at least 3-8 cm of compost. The soil in the vegetable bed should be loose, be easy to turn over and dig. Vegetables need daily watering when at the seedling stage. Mulch helps retain moisture, encourages earthworms and fosters microbial activity in the soil. Crop rotation is very important too. Don’t plant the same thing (or a related plant) in the same spot two years in a row as plants from same family are vulnerable to disease and insects. To make free fertilizer collect leaves in the fall. Place them in a thick layer all over the garden and then let the worms do the work of turning them into leaf mulch. Start from a small garden. Each plant has a different set of timings for planting. Vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow and maintain are tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans , radishes, lettuces, green onions, cilantro and mint.

Green Beans 

Pole and bush beans (more commonly called green beans) are a tender vegetable and a great addition to any garden, great eaten fresh off the plant or incorporated into a recipe. Pole beans will grow in a climbing vine and require a trellis or staking. Bush beans will spread up to 2 feet but do not require support.

Do not start seeds indoors; they may not survive transplanting. Seeds can be sown outdoors any time after last spring frost that is end of April. For a harvest that lasts all summer, sow beans every two weeks. Water regularly, from start of pod to set. Water on sunny days so foliage will not remain soaked. Beans are picked at an immature stage, when the seeds inside have not yet fully developed. Look for firm, sizeable pods and snap or cut off the plant. Do not tear the plant. The plant is ready to harvest from mid-June to mid-November.

grow your own herbs

Cilantro

Coriander/cilantro is a fast-growing, aromatic herb that grows in the cooler weather of spring and fall. The leaves are called cilantro and the seeds are called coriander. Plant cilantro in the spring after the last frost date or in the fall. Do not grow in summer heat as the plants will bolt (so it is past harvesting). The leaves that grow on bolted plants tend to be bitter in flavour.It is best to choose a sunny site that will allow cilantro to self-seed as it is ought to do. Plant in an herb garden or the corner of a vegetable garden. When the weather gets warm, the plant will quickly finish its life cycle and send up a long stalk which will produce blossoms and later seeds. Little plants will sprout during the season and the next spring. Plant the seeds in light, well-drained soil.

It is important to keep the seeds moist during their germination, so remember to water the plants regularly throughout the growing season. They require about an inch of water per week for best growth. Once the plants are established, they do not need as much water. Keep them moist, but be careful not to overwater them. Harvest while it is low. When the cilantro grows its stalk, cut off the plant after the seeds drop and let it self-seed. The large leaves can be cut individually from the plants. For the smaller leaves, cut them off 1-1/2 to 2 inches above the crown. You can also remove the entire plant at once; however, this means that you will not be able to continue harvesting for the rest of the growing season.

grow cucumber in your garden

Cucumber

Cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable planted outside in the ground no earlier than two weeks after last spring frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost damage. Do not plant outside too soon! For an early crop, start cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant them in the ground. They like bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC). Before you plant outside, select a site with full sun exposure. Water consistently; put your finger in the soil and when it is dry past the first joint of your finger, it is time to water. Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit. Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, avoiding the leaves. Spray vines with sugar water to attract bees and set more fruit. Cucumbers are best picked before they seeds become hard and are eaten when immature. Do not let them get yellow. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp.

Next week we’ll be sharing tips on how to plant and harvest lettuce, mint, onions, peas and pepper.

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.

Islamic Crafts: Time Chart For Salat

By Sukaina Imran

Islamic Crafts: DIY Time Chart For Salat

As a Muslim Mom, I find it tough to bring up my children with Islamic values in a non-Muslim country. Growing up in Pakistan, we never had to make any special efforts to mark our religious occasions like Eid or Ramadhan. After moving to the US and having my daughters, I started putting my education to use at home. I started decorating my house for Eids and doing small craft activities about Islam to engage with my children and help them understand Islam easily and in a fun way. May Allah keep all our kids on the right path. Ameen.

This easy DIY Salat Time Chart is the perfect craft to keep your little ones busy, teach them about Islam and the second pillar of our faith. More than just a crafting activity, it strengthens quality family bonding time as you talk your children through the process, guide them into making the chart and instill in them the significance of all the prayers and their timings.

Things you will need

  • Foam cardboard
  • Label maker
  • Paper clocks (or you can use small disposable plates to make clocks)
  • Glue gun and stick glue
  • Trim of your choice

Instructions

  • Cut your foam cardboard according to the size of your clocks.
  • Print names of Salat with your label maker.
  • Paste everything on your board with glue stick.
  • Use the glue gun to stick trim for a nice border.

 

About the author:

Sukaina Imran is a Montessori trained teacher from Pakistan. She moved to the US after getting married and worked in an Islamic school in Texas for three years. She also has a child psychology diploma. After the birth of her first child, Sukaina quit formal work and decided to put her Montessori teachings to bring her children closer to Islam.

Spring Break Do’s and Don’ts

By Mariam Mazhar 

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March break panic has set in!  Not heading to a sunny beach? Neither am I but I have set up some do’s and don’ts for March break that will not break my bank and will keep the kids busy and happy. If you cannot take days off from work; do not fret. There are many different half and full day camps available depending on your child’s needs and interests. You can choose from sports, arts and crafts, robotics or academic-based camps. But if you are a stay at home mom or you are lucky enough to take some time off here are some good suggestions or you.

Do not wake up early

Your kids have been working hard for past ten weeks (yes it’s been a while since winter holidays ended). They have been occupied with homework assignments,  their music lessons, soccer practices and what not. Let them sleep in and let them rest their tired bodies. Remember a mommy’s body also needs rest so please hide your alarm clocks.

Do not hate the cold

Spring is just around the corner. And even if it doesn’t get warmer over the March break do not hate the last bit of snow, rather enjoy it. Go snow tubing, skiing or skate boarding and end your winter with some wonderful memories. If you find it pricey go tobogganing on the nearby hills.

Do not stay indoors

Your body needs daily dose of exercise. Bundle up your kids and go for a morning walk. Look for early signs of spring, listen to the birds chirping, spot some squirrels under the bush and keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine.

Do not plan something for everyday and every moment

A healthy amount of boredom is okay!  Don’t constantly rush in to alleviate boredom. This will help motivate your child to find new ways to entertain himself.

Do not spend too much

Even if you are not travelling, having kids at home means pizza nights, trips to mall  and march break camps. If you have the luxury of staying home with kids during March break than you can cut that extra amount of spending by cooking with your kids and attending these free fun activities:

Spring Break at Indigo

Indigo|Chapters is holding FREE in-store spring activities across Canada. Daily themes include: Dr. Seuss, Lego, Klutz crafts. (Check chapters.indigo.ca for further details)

Tip: Get there 15 min before start time to get a good spot.

Sugar bush and Maple Syrup Festivals

The trees will soon be tapped and now is the time to layer up and get out seeing how maple syrup is made. Generally a low budget outing.  For more details check out our previous article on the Maple Syrup Festival.

The Home Depot Kids workshops

I don’t know if these are across Canada, so please contact your local store. The kids’ workshops are a great opportunity to build something with your kids. The activities are FREE and usually can be made within an hour.

Toys “R” Us Spring Break events

Toys “R” Us has spring break events. Check online or call before heading the store and some events might not be free or might require to purchase the material or toys.

Public Library

Public libraries will be holding free Spring break events (in Toronto they offer both English and French events). Check your local libraries. Some events might require prior registration.

Public Swim & Skate:

Some community centers offer free swimming and skating (or for a toonie) during March break.

Tip: Go 15 minutes ahead of time to avoid disappointments

Visit your local mall

Another great spot to find free activities is your local mall. Check your local paper or mall websites for daily events including crafts, stage shows, science fun, concerts and more.

Tip: leave your credit cards at home to avoid extra spending

Plan your summer garden

Visit your local nursery or hardware store to buy seeds and required tools. Whether the garden is a large plot in the backyard or a few planting pots off the back deck, give each child an area of responsibility/opportunity. Allow them to plan what they will plant for the growing season.

Movies for cheap

Some cinemas show classics and old children’s movies for toonies. Check cinemas in your city and the screenings available.

Whatever you choose to plan for your kids, make it fun and memorable. After all that’s all that matters.

About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a teacher by profession, with a passion for kids, cakes and creative writing.