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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Product Review | Ali and Sumaya: Let's Pray

This DVD is a fantastic resource for Muslim children, and a very useful tool for anyone involved in Islamic educationI'm so grateful to be able to share my thoughts on it with you all...

Ali and Sumaya DVD review


Ali and Sumaya: Let's Read is produced by Imanination Studios. They have created an exciting range of DVDs and apps that use the latest technology to produce INCREDIBLE quality animation. I mean ...it's AMAZING! There is nothing like it in the market today.

These days, Muslim children's TV has to compete with the likes of Shrek and Frozen in order to meet our children's expectations and keep them engaged. Ali and Sumaya are trying to meet this goal and honestly... the graphics are awesome!

This is the trailer for their DVD:





The whole feel of this DVD is really modern, cool, colourful and fun. It teaches the subject of prayer in a very gentle and loving way...which I think is best way!

In addition to the prayer, they also teach all the steps and duaas for wudu, the athaan, duaa Qunoot, other Prophetic duaas and seven surahs. There is also a quiz and a ridiculously catchy nasheed!!!

Ali and Sumaya Lets Pray DVD Review


There is NO MUSIC in the DVD and the producers have gone to great lengths to ensure that all material presented in the DVD is based on the Quran and authentic Hadith. Allah knows best. I approached the company for more information on this and they kindly replied:


"We have illustrated the prayer in a way which we believe to be the most authentic manner based only on authentic aHadeeth.  
We have relied on sources such as Bukhari, Muslim, Nisa’i Abu Dawood, Tirmidi and Ibn Majah.  May Allah SWT be pleased with them all. Ameen 
We have sought guidance from various Scholars and People of knowledge in Alexandria, Egypt and also The Islamic Shariah Council, UK."


The characters themselves, Ali and Sumaya, are so sweet and their recitation of the Quran is so beautiful and clear. I just had to stop what I was doing and listen....so beautiful mashAllah!

Although there are a lot of details on 'HOW' to pray, the producers have also tried to put across the pleasure and joy one gets from the Salaah. I loved how they started the DVD with an explanation on 'WHY' we pray and why it's important. The DVD begins with the story of the 'Night of Ascension' and my kids were riveted (you know...where their mouths drop open!!!)


Ali and Sumaya Let's Pray Review
Learning how to make Wudu!

Ali and Sumaya Let's Pray Review
Don't forget the ears!!!

Each step for Salaah is very clear and easy to understand. They've added a fun element by having little icons pop up (like in a video game) that remind you when to recite aloud or tell you how many rakaats left. It's just very cool without being gimmicky. It is entertaining and fun but still preserves the sanctity of the prayer.

Throughout the DVD, all Quran and duaas are written very clearly at the bottom of the screen, in Arabic with translation and transliteration.
.
My only concern with this DVD is, as we all know, the prayer varies between Muslims depending on which path of Islam you follow. However, fundamentally we all pray the same, it's just in 'the finer details' that we differ (I think...although I'm no expert!!!).

Ali and Sumaya Let's Pray DVD Review


My two boys are only three and five, but I felt they benefited from watching it. After only watching it once, my five year-old was telling me how many rakaats are in each prayer, and when you need to pray that prayer!!! MashAllah...it worked!

For young children, do not try to make them watch the whole thing through, but rather take it in chapters. I plan to teach one aspect of the prayer (wudu, athaan, prayer times etc.) and then use this DVD to reiterate what we have been discussing.

I think children over the age of seven would benefit the most from this DVD because some important points are written on the screen and not narrated by the characters. So if your child does not read well they may miss out on these parts.

Ali and Sumaya Lets Pray Review

Ali and Sumaya Lets Pray Review


If you're interested in purchasing this DVD, you can buy it on their website Ali and Sumaya.
At this time of writing this, it costs £14.99, or you can rent it from Vimeo for one year for $7.50. All details are on their website.

There is also a FREE app that goes along with the DVD, that features lots of interactive animations and games, to help teach the prayer and reinforce what they have seen in the DVD.

Here is the trailer for the app:



The company also makes these fabulous posters to go along with the DVD. They are big (A2), nice quality and very cleverly designed. They images are faceless if you wanted to hang them up. There is one for boys and one for girls. They are quite complicated, so I would not recommend them for children under 5.

We plan to look the relevant part of the poster after watching that part of the DVD. This is yet another teaching tool to visually prompt and reinforce learning. They are available to purchase on their website.

Ali and Sumaya Let's Pray PosterAli and Sumaya Let's Pray Poster

Overall I feel that Ali and Sumaya: Let's Pray has filled a void in the market; a void that English-speaking Muslim children desperately needed filling!

If anything is unclear, or you need more information, please leave a comment for me down below and I will do my best to answer your questions, or pass you onto someone from the company insha'Allah. 

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Thank you so much for stopping by!

Please remember us in your duaas.


Peace and Love.

Disclaimer: This review was NOT sponsored. Although Imanination Studio sent me a complimentary copy of this DVD and the posters, all opinions expressed are genuine!


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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Dear Busy Mum,

A little advice from my heart to yours.


After a week of teething and difficult nights, I decided this morning to go out for a solitary coffee. No kids, no husband, just me and my books!

Advice for busy homeschool mums


I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel overwhelmed sometimes. Being with the three kids EVERY DAY…ALL DAY is draining. Some days it’s the mess that gets to me, others it’s the fighting, but usually it’s the noise that can get too much.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t badly behaved (well…no more than the average kid). In fact, I think they’re wonderful. They bring me so much joy! But we all need a break every now and then!

As I was walking down the road, to get to the café near my house, it was like seeing my street in a completely new way! It was so nice to actually experience THAT moment.

So often, as a mum, you are busy checking you have everything for everyone, checking you haven’t lost one of the kids, making sure everyone has been to the toilet, eaten enough, as well as throwing in the occasional ‘educational’ tit-bit, that you just don’t even have time to look around. There’s no time to Stop…Breathe…and SEE what’s around you.

It was incredible just looking at the people walking past, blissfully unaware of how ‘lucky’ they are; not because they don’t have children … No, No, No! Lucky because that have THIS MOMENT! So precious. So fleeting. If only they would Stop….Breathe…REFLECT!

"Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day there are indeed ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth (with the thought): "Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose! Glory to thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the fire."" Q3:190-1.

Whether we have children to fill our time, or jobs, or academic studies, or whatever our worries are, remember, Dear Busy Mum, this life is just here to occupy us. The Dunya is here to give us our provisions, and to distract us from our true purpose…Allah.

I am as guilty as you, perhaps even more guilty, of forgetting my Lord and busying myself too much with my ‘life.’


Dear Busy Mum, stop rushing…stop thinking… stop…STOP!

Look at what is around you…BREATHE….REFLECT….ALHUMDULILLAH!



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Please remember us in your duaas.

Peace and Love.

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Muslim Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

UK Online Maths Programmes

Today on Our Muslim Homeschool, we are going to be talking about MATHS! More specifically, the best maths programmes that are available online for homeschoolers in the UK.

After being asked by several homeschooling families to recommend an online maths programme, I decided to share my recommendations in a blog post instead!

Online Maths Programmes for UK Homeschool

Whilst using an online maths platform is not necessary, it can be a fun way to supplement your existing curriculum, or encourage reluctant learners. They can also be helpful for parents who are nervous teaching maths to their children themselves.

As with most homeschooling material, there is a lot available from U.S.A. Whilst these can be used by homeschoolers in the UK with little or no problems, some prefer to use curricula that is tailored to students in the UK.

Below I have listed online maths programmes that specifically try to align with the UK National curriculum. This list is by no means exhaustive and is not done in any particular order. The focus of these recommendations is particularly for children of Primary School age. 

It does NOT include the many websites that offer downloadable worksheets. Instead it lists those that have instructional videos, animations, games or interactive questions available.

Online Maths Programmes


C indicates this platform can be used alone as a complete curriculum.
S indicates this site could be used as a supplement to another complete curriculum.
P indicates that this site required payment for complete access.
F indicates that this website is free.

Education City S P

Education City uses animations and games to teach Maths, as well as Literacy, Science, French, German and Spanish. At the time of writing this, there is a free trial period and then you pay £29.95 per child per year.

Math Seeds S P

Mathseeds aims to teach core maths and problem solving skills needed to be successful at school. For kids ages 3-6, it uses interactive animations and games. At time of writing, there is a free trial period and then it is £29.95 per child per year.

Maths Whizz C P

Maths Whizz is for children ages 5-13. It teaches through animations and questions. If a concept of not fully understand, the software will reteach the same topic differently, until the child has understood. At the time of writing, Maths Whizz is offering a free trial and then is priced at £149 per annum.

Conquer Maths C P

Conquer maths has a good reputation amongst homeschoolers in general. It teaches children aged 4-18 through instructional videos and questions. This is more ‘school-like’ and there are no games or silly songs! At the time of writing, they offer limited access to their material for free. For complete access it is £100 per year.

IXL S P

IXL teaches Maths and English from Reception through to Year 13. It is entirely questions, with no instructional element at present. This programme offer a limited ‘allowance’ of questions for free. At the time of writing it costs £59/annum for unlimited access to all questions. 

Mathletics S P

Mathletics is widely used in schools in the UK, has won awards and has a good reputation overall (although my son didn't like it!). It reinforces and improves maths skills using instructional animations, interactive questions and math drill races with other students online. It is adaptive, and will adjust the questions asked, according to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. They offer a free 10-day trial and thereafter it is £39/child/year.
  

123maths S P

123maths takes a step-by-step approach to teaching maths, and aims to fill in gaps in the child’s knowledge. It appears to be thorough and more ‘school-like’ in its approach. At the time of writing, it offers a 10-day free trial and costs £48.99 per child per year.

BBC S F

BBC offers links to free animations, games and videos that would be a fun supplement to your child’s current curriculum.

Komodomath S P

Komodo Math focuses on what it calls ‘Maths Fluency.’ This essentially means helping the child become faster and more confident with their maths calculations. The lessons are taught with fun animations, followed by questions. It is also adaptive, and will adjust the questions asked according to the child's understanding of a topic. At the time of writing they offer a free 14-day trial. Thereafter it is priced at £69/year.
   

There are also a few other websites that are worth mentioning:

MEP Maths

MEP Maths is not an online platform, but rather a complete downloadable curriculum that is available for FREE! It follows the parameters set by the UK National Curriculum.

Free Instructional Videos

The following sites offer EXCELLENT instructional videos in Maths that are worth checking out. They are for the U.S. market, but most of them, if not all, can be useful to homeschoolers in the U.K. 

As I mentioned before, you do NOT need to use an online maths platform, but many families to find it useful. These are the best from what I have seen online.

It is worth using the free trials they offer to see if they suit your child’s style of learning.

We have tried many of the one listed above, and my son’s favourites have been Education City and Maths Seeds. This is not because they are any ‘better’ than the rest, but they just appealed to his personality and taste! So definitely give some of these websites a try!

Please leave me a comment below and tell me: 
Which online maths programmes do your children enjoy using? 
Would you say any are better than the others? 
What about for older kids?
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Thank you for visiting our blog! Come again soon!
Please remember us in your duaas.


Peace and Love.

You might also like:

Muslim Homeschool Curriculum Choices