As I mentioned here, I’ve come up with the idea to run short and sweet little craft camps at our local mosque to get the kids together doing something fun, with a hint of spiritual growth to it. We were able to get approval for the camp at three mosques, but we are only doing it at two, because we’re already in August, and we have a lot of other things we need to do before school starts again. Thankfully we managed to get three camps done (two craft ones and a hajj one, in collaboration with the amazing sister Sameera), pictures of which appear on the Caterpillar Café FB page. Since some of the kids (including my own of course) had already done the first craft camp, I decided to change books and do different crafts. I also opted to try and fit more activities into the time, so as to keep the older, quicker kids something to do while the younger ones completed their artwork.
Because the kids who were attending this second installment of the craft camp had been quite busy with religious education throughout the month of July, I opted for a less structured approach, and chose stories of more general interest, that deal with everyday issues that Muslim kids growing up as a minority face. For this I chose Rukhsana Khan’s apt collection of short stories Muslim Child, published in 1999. It is a very nice collection, which although it could use some updating (which I hope she will attend to, as she did with other successful works of hers), comes in very handy for this specific purpose in mind. I chose three stories from the book, as this camp was only three days long, instead of four, due to other ongoing programs that had been previously scheduled at the same venue. The three stories were “Fajr,” “The Black Ghost,” and “I Love Eid.”
The first I found to be very funny, and since most kids were at the age where they could still laugh and learn from such stories, I thought it would be appropriate, despite some language (which I changed as I read it out loud). As a story-related activity I gave the kids two options, which they could choose between, or complete both. One was coloring or decorating a pre-printed prayer mat, which I photocopied from the book, and the other was making a woven mat out of paper and ribbons. For the craft I chose to make a sibha (or what is often known as worry beads, many Muslims use these to keep track of their supplications, using 33 beads to count, and one long one to signal a new round). As an extra activity, just in case everyone finished their crafts quickly, I thought I’d teach the kids how to make paper fortune tellers, but we ended up not having time for this after all. The quickest boys opted to go to the adjacent room to play soccer instead, and after two hours of crafting, who could blame them?
On the second day we read “The Black Ghost,” which tells about a boy whose mom wears the niqab, and chooses black as her preferred color throughout. Although he initially struggles with reconciling his love and admiration for his mom and his desire to fit in to mainstream society and befriend a non-Muslim classmate, he realizes that kids appreciate kindness no matter what it looks like on the outside, and that different doesn’t always necessarily mean bad. In response to this story I asked to older kids to write a letter of appreciation to their moms, while the younger ones could either draw something they thought their moms would like, or write a simple message and decorate the sheet with glitter glue, stamps and stickers (they loved these options!). There was a little something for every taste! We then learned how to make an envelope, in which we slipped the letter and a mandala with one of the 99 names of Allah for the moms to color, as a thank you gift for their hard work and patience. These gorgeous mandalas were printed out from a fabulous book available on Amazon by renowned Pakistani-Canadian Islamic calligraphy artist Omar Uddin.
As Eid is approaching, and I wanted to give them lots of ideas on how to share the good cheer for this and future Eids, I suggested we learn how to make a simple bookmark, which they could replicate numerous times, making a quick, useful, and easy gift to distribute after salat-ul-Eid. Having done a pop-up card for Eid-ul-Adha at the last camp, I thought I would do a simpler version, which we’d be able to complete with ease within the time allotted. Finally, as an extra activity, I suggested a paper helicopter, which I got from one of my favorite publications for year-round kids crafts and activities: Usborne (365 Science Activities).
On the third and last day we dove right into Eid celebration mode, and built a little giftbox, which we filled with gems, origami stars, and Swiss chocolate. We also made another, more complex and hearty Eid card with a quilled sheep theme, which I find to be simply irresistible. As an extra activity I planned to make paper airplanes. I hope I’ll be able to do more Muslim-inspired crafts with the community!