Kids love counting down to events they are excited about such as an upcoming trip or the end of school. The sponges we give birth to absorb the anticipation around them. If mom is crabby about the dozens of samosas she has to make, the anxiety can trickle down to the children. However, if we are looking forward to welcoming the special month of Ramadan, kids pick up the positivity and start looking for the crescent moon even before we do.
This is even more crucial when we are living in a country where Muslims are a minority as our children see the hoopla surrounding other holidays year-round. I do not want to raise my children in a religion of no’s. I want to provide them with permissible alternatives so they grow up with fond memories of Ramadan and Eid. One way I get the kids in Ramadan mode is decorating a nook in our house that we inevitably pass by several times a day. Nothing very fancy, huge or expensive – just a reminder that Ramadan will be starting soon.
I plan to put some small treats or toys in the ten numbered bags you see on the table so my youngest can open one bag after iftar each day. I plan on re-using the bags every ashrah (ten days).
Another thing I have been doing for the past few years is hosting a Welcome Ramadan Craft Party. Again it’s a bunch of moms and kids getting together to make some stuff and get into the Ramadan spirit.
I broke down the process into simple steps so that it is not overwhelming and more parents are encouraged to try it out
1. Send out Facebook or e-invites ahead of time.
2. Don’t be super mom. Ask each family to bring a snack to share. I enjoy crafts more than cooking, but you could flip my idea by taking care of the food and drinks, and having your friends each do a craft or game with the kids.
3. Divide the kids into age groups and plan a few crafts each. Then order the supplies. There are plenty of DIY freebies that you can print at home or at your local copy store. There is no dearth of ideas on Pinterest and it honestly doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to get kids excited. You can sometimes make things out of stuff you have lying at home. Paper towel tubes anyone? Amazon Prime is my best friend, but Dollar Tree, Oriental Trading and the local craft store are great too.
4. I start with a story time with titles like Curious George or Golden Domes. That’s my favorite part of the day; seeing those big eyes on those cute faces listening so intently.
5. Have blank paper bags ready to kids can write their name and take them to every station and gather their crafts in one place to take home.Print out instructions before hand and tape them near every craft station or game. Have moms volunteer their time at every table so you’re not running around like a lunatic.
Some craft suggestions with rough age guidelines:
2- 5 year olds:
Moon sighting binoculars
Halve a paper towel tube. Let kids decorate with stickers. Glue or staple together. Punch hole and thread some yarn and talk about moon sighting.
I got unfinished ones from Oriental Tradingand had the kids go to town painting them.
There are lots of freebies are available online which can kids can color (a.k.a scribble on). Parents can laminate them to make them easy to wipe. Here is oneidea.
6-10 year olds
Countdown to Eid
Pretty self explanatory. I got the chargers from Dollar Tree, but you could use paper plates too. My friend spray painted the clothespins ahead of time, but you could leave them plain.
30 days of good deeds
You can print out 30 good deed sand put them in a box or jar or in an advent calendar or even just stapled together for the kids to try one good deed every day of Ramadan.
Bookmarks for their Quran
You can be as creative – or as basic- about this craft. Add some bling, some yarn tassels or kids can even personalize them with names and the year.
Time for iftar
Kids can color a 4×6″ or 5×7 of paper and insert it into a standard photo frame. Use a dry-erase marker for them to write down the iftar and/or suhur time daily. Just wipe off with a cloth and repeat the next day.
11-15 year olds
Ramadan candles– use any Ramadan or Eid greeting using this technique.
We used a blow dryer because we didnt have a heat gun, but the results were still pretty good.
I am an avid scrap booker, so have tons of paper strips lying around. Kids can frame it and keep it as a reminder.
Again my scrapbooking stash was very handy, but even if you buy some stacks of paper on sale, print out some DIY banner freebies and let the kids get creative. If you don’t have many craft supplies, see if you can borrow punches and fancy scissors from friends. Sweet Fajr has some beautiful freebies for banners.
Treats for neighbors
One year we did personalized candy bars for neighbors, after all that is my businessso I had lots of wrappers on hand. But you could have teens decorate tags or bag toppers and encourage them to share Ramadan treats with Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, with parent permission of course.
Pin the dome on the masjid was very popular with the little ones. I made it slightly harder for the older ones by having them pin the crescent on the dome while blindfolded.
Guess the amount of sadqah in the jar. The person with the closest guess got to take the jar to the masjid.
Mom game. One year, I put together a basket of Ramadan food items and had moms guess what was the total value of the basket. The one with the closest answer took the goodies home.
You can have some fun with the food items too if you have the time. I made a crescent shaped cake one year. Did not use a special cake tin. Just an edible ink marker and a round cake.
The objective is to make it a festive time for the kids so they know a special holiday is coming up. By connecting the crafts with sunnahs like moon sighting, rights of neighbors and spending in charity as well as revving up the anticipation to Eid, you add purpose to the fun.
Again, you do not have to go all out. But if you want to pass on the tradition of welcoming Ramadan, this can be the year you start! I’m sure you will do a great job, in sha Allah.