This week marks the first week of the Islamic Calendar, and it’s a time of mourning for the Shi’a Muslims. Each night, Shia families attend majlis [lectures] at their local Mosque to listen to commemoratory speeches detailing the brutal death of Imam Hussain (a.s.). This year, I attended with both my daughters [2.5 yrs and 14 months] and was blessed to co-lead a Moms/Toddlers program nightly that took place for one hour during the speech.
We tried to make use of this hour as best as possible for the age group of four and under. Most of the children were 2-3 year olds, with lots of energy and a short attention span. Trying to keep some sort of structure to the program, we broke the class up into following:
Circle Time: short stories, Salam song, discussion of Karbala
Project Time: simple projects to spark creativity
Snack Time: choice of muffins/vanilla wafers/cheerios with water
I will briefly explain some of the projects we worked on this year. The children really enjoyed being a part of this program and learning all about Imam Hussain’s (a.s.) sacrifice.
Karbala Family Tree
One of our projects this year was to create our very own Karbala Family Trees, where we place each family member of Imam Husain (a.s.) on our tree. I used foam pages in different colors to cut out the tree and just printed out all the names. We collectively placed all the names on the larger tree, each child took a turn to place the name in the correct order. It’s a fun way to visualize the family of Imam Husain (a.s.) while also learning their names.
Mashk of Sakina
It’s great when a child can connect their project to a story they’ve read. For this simple project, we recreated the Mashk [water bag] of Bibi Sakina (a.s.) to represent the thirst of the children of Karbala. We read a story called “Thirst of Sakina“ which is one of my daughters’ favorites. It’s a short and simple storytelling of how the heroic Hazrat Abbas sacrificed his life trying to bring water for his niece Sakina and all the children. I used two pieces of felt cut into the shape of a mashk, and a black pipe cleaner to connect it.
Karbala Super Heroes
This project was very creative and done by my co-teacher. We began class by talking about superheroes and naming who the heroes of Karbala were. The children then chose one superhero/heroine to create. They each received a cutout male/female and decorated them with capes, stickers and named them.
Mini Alam Project
One night our entire children’s program held a majlis and juloos, where each child held up their very own alam [flag]. We used popsicle sticks, black construction paper and glittery silver paper cut into a palm shape. The kids decorated them with stickers and held them with pride.
This was the first year pilot program for the age group of 4 years and under, and alhamdulillah it was wonderful. Every night parents would tell me how much their child is looking forward to coming to the program to work on their new project. It’s never too early to start educating our little ones about this very important part of our history.
If you’d like to learn more about Shi’a Islam, Muharram, Day of Ashura, please see below from some great articles. You’re welcome to e-mail me for personal questions about the projects or anything else: firstname.lastname@example.org
What kinds of projects/programs do you like to do to educate your children in religious history?