As I mentioned in my guest-post linked here, I am often looking for ways to get my kids engaged in their spiritual lives, by means of collaborative crafts, active communication, mutual cooperation, sharing, and respect. As they often work on artistic expressions of the various celebrations that occur throughout the year among the various communities represented at their schools, I find myself constantly challenged to find engaging activities that they’ll enjoy doing, which reflect our own beliefs and ideals. As I have already discussed here, my kids have become less interested in crafts, as they have gotten older, so I didn’t plan any crafts for this Ramadan.
In past years they helped me decorate with garlands, lights, and mini-lanterns, and we’ve made Ramadan and Eid cards for friends and relatives. But as I noticed their enthusiasm weaning, I thought I’d lay off a bit on the crafts, and let them lead me to where they wanted to go. I figured that if they’re not having fun with these activities, which are supposed to make this period more enjoyable and memorable, then there’s no point in continuing to engage in these activities, but rather give them more freedom to choose how they wish to celebrate. I did make an advent calendar, which they willingly and cheerfully helped me put together, but I didn’t plan anything else, precisely because I wanted them to take the lead this year, based on their own interests, and because I hoped to concentrate on connecting at a deeper, more spiritual level with them.
Surprisingly, they caught me off guard one quiet day in the first week of Ramadan, asking me why we weren’t doing any crafts this year. I immediately lit up, and listed a range of activities that we could work on together. They unanimously chose to make a bookmark for themselves. We are fairly constant readers, and although we do have many bookmarks in the house, this is something we never seem to get enough of! So bookmarks it was.
I pulled out all the stops: decorated cardboard, stickers, washi tape, ribbons, all sorts of twine and beads, fancy pens and markers, even little bells and glitter glue. We then spent the first portion of the afternoon working on our own individualized bookmarks, some more intricate than others. My youngest decided he wasn’t interested in making a bookmark after all, but loved the fancy pens, so he opted to write a card to our neighbor, who had gone away for the weekend. He chose his favorite paper and pens, and wrote a thoughtful card, affixed a candy to it, and dropped it off at his friend’s grandma’s place, while the rest of us worked on our bookmarks. We ended up making a whole range of bookmarks, from elaborate ones with letter beads spelling our names, to intricate washi tape designs, to cut-out minarets, to simple folded decorated paper glued together and secured with a ribbon, to a plain ribbon with message tag.
Here are some pictures of the bookmarks we made. Last year we prepared two picnic baskets full of chocolates and candies for the kids to distribute at the musalla after Eid prayers (the prayers to celebrate the end of Ramadan), this year we hope to distribute the bookmarks in lieu of or along with chocolates and sweets, to spread the good cheer.
We spent quite some time that afternoon, and managed to make about twenty bookmarks, but had to stop there, as they became antsy to go out and enjoy the improving weather. Hopefully we’ll get to make a few more before the end of Ramadan, but if not, I am glad that they do still draw delight out of making little crafts with me after all! 🙂