Activity: The Special Circle
Make a circle on the floor with a yarn or tape and tell the children that the circle is for a special person in this room. Tell them that you will ask questions, and whoever says ‘Yes’ to any of the questions should step into the circle. Ask different questions such as: Can you wink? Can you curl your tongue? Can you hop on one foot? Do you make mistakes? Do you like to laugh and have fun? Do you love Allah (swt)? Very soon, everyone will be inside the circle. Explain to the children that we are all special. We are different but that doesn’t mean that each of us isn’t special in our own way.
Activity: The Magic Box
Make a box with a mirror inside its lid. Ask the child(ren): “I know someone who is very special, whom Allah (swt) loves very much! Who do you think it might be?” Discuss different people your child(ren) know and admire from family and friends. Show them the magic box and say: “This box will reveal who it is!” Give each child a chance to look into the box one by one to see themselves in the mirror. Ask the child: “Are you surprised? You had such a big smile – are you happy to see that you’re the special person?”
After all the children have had their turns, ask the group who the most special person was. When all the children say “me”, explain that each one of us has been made special by Allah (swt). Make them realize that we can all be special in our own way, and we don’t need to compare ourselves to others.
Craft: “Thank You Allah (swt)!” Tree
Have each child draw a tree trunk with branches on a white paper. Help them cut out leaves from construction paper. On these leaves, have each child write things they like about themselves, things they can do well and so on. Glue the leaves to the tree and, in the middle of the trunk, write “Thank You Allah (swt)!” This activity will help children focus on their good qualities and relate it to Allah (swt), Who has made them this way.
Game: Musical Chairs
Have each child write their names on a masking tape and stick to the bottom of a chair. Line up the chairs and play a Nasheed, while the children walk around the chairs. When the Nasheed is stopped, each child sits in the chair closest to them and removes the tape from the chair. Each child now has to say something positive about the child, whose name is on the tape, without saying who the child is, so the others can guess who it is. For example, a child might say: “This person always shares” or “This person is lots of fun to play with.” If they can’t guess who the person is in three tries, have the child who gave the compliment reveal the person by sticking the masking tape to his or her back.
Preteens and Teens
Activity: Turn It Around!
Help children understand the power of being positive. Teach them, for example, that instead of saying: “Other children don’t like me”, they should say: “Other children don’t know me”. Help them brainstorm better sentences for the following commonly-said phrases:
- Nobody likes me
- I’m not good at anything
- I don’t like —-
- I can’t —-
- I don’t care
- I don’t have many friends
- I’m not good at (school subject or sport)
Activity: I am Unworthy of This
Paste a chart up on the wall and write “I am unworthy of…” as the header. Teach children that for them as Muslims, there are certain things, which are below their dignity. These could include complaining too much, asking for things from others, getting into trouble with teachers and parents, lying to get out a tough spot and so on. This activity will teach children to hold themselves to a higher standard and develop self-dignity and self-worth.
Discussions: Table Topics
Write these questions (and any others you can think of) on small cards and place them on the table in a box. Every time you sit for dinner as a family, choose one or more cards and discuss. These discussions will encourage self-awareness in your children and also make them analyze what qualities gain respect from others:
- Which character traits of your sibling would you like to have?
- What do you most admire about your parents?
- How are you different from everyone else?
- In what ways are you generous?
- Are you more comfortable as a leader or as a follower?
- What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
- Define a hero. Who, in your opinion, is your hero?
- I am proud of _________ for ___________
- I am proud of myself for _______________
Activity: Advertise yourself
Have your children create an advertisement, persuading someone to be their friend. Children should depict positive aspects of themselves through pictures, words, or both. If any child has a difficult time thinking of reasons why someone would want to be their friend, have them think of characteristics they look for in a friend. At the end, have the children share their advertisements with one another.
Activity: Behind my Back
Have each child write their name on a paper and tape it to their backs. The children now go around to each other and write what they like about them on their back anonymously. When everyone is done, the papers are taken off and children can see the positive words they had to say about each other.
Note for parents: Be careful about which of your children’s accomplishments you express pride in. Showing pride in your children winning a pageant or best costume, for example, may send the wrong message.