Boom, Bang! It’s Thundering!

It’s pretty normal for small kids to be frightened by the sound of thunder (and I have to admit, it does make a grown up a little jumpy too, sometimes!), some more afraid than others. I remember when my eldest child was around 2-3 years old, he would start crying, putting his hands over his ears (and refused to remove them from his ears until the thundering completely stopped) and snuggled with us when it was thundering outside.

However, just as fascinating as the alternation of day and night, rainfall and other miracles that we have explored in previous posts, there’s actually more to the sound of thunder than its loud, startling sound.

Allah ‘azza wa jall says in Surah Ar-Ra’d, verse no. 13:

And the thunder exalts [Allah] with His praise, and the angels too, in awe of Him” (Surah Ar-Ra’d: 13)

As children grow, it becomes easier for us parents to make clear to them why certain things happen, especially things that they can relate to their senses, in this case, the sense of sound.

The above verse tells us about the fascinating reality that we can teach our children – that human beings are not the only ones that praise and glorify Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala; angels and thunder do the same too!

Subhaanallah, what a great wonder.

Teaching them about this fact actually helps to cultivate the seeds of imaan in the hearts of our children, since we are well aware that as Muslims, not only do we believe in things that are visible to us, but also those that are unseen.

As Allah also mentions in Surah Al-Israa’, verse 44:

“…And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting.” (Al-Israa’: 44)

This is another powerful verse that you can refer to, which contains a great lesson for our children: human beings have limited capabilities and understanding. Just because we can’t hear them, it does not mean that other living creatures and things that Allah has created do not praise and glorify Allah. They all do this in their own ways that we humans are not able to see and understand.

Now let me share some activities that you can do with your children:

  • Discuss what it means to praise and glorify Allah. Teach them the phrases SubhaaaAllah, Alhamdulillah, Laa ilaaha Illallaah and Allaahu Akbar and their meanings. Ask them to write them down so that they won’t forget.
  • Teach them the supplication to read upon hearing thunder: سُبْحانَ الَّذِي يُسَبِّحُ الرَّعْدُ بِحَمْدِهِ، وَالمَلائِكَةُ مِنْ خِيْفَتِهِ (Translation: Glory is to Him Whom thunder and angels glorify due to fear of Him.)  [Source: Hisnul Muslim]
  • Read this together with your kids: Thunder Facts For Kids
  • Thunderstorm in a cup” activity by Brie Brie Blooms. Very interesting indoor activity for pre-schoolers!

Image Credit: ranbud (Morguefile.com)

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They Meet, But They Don’t Mix

I just love it when I can find hands-on lessons/activities for my children that are fun, but even more so when I can relate those lessons with knowledge from the Quran. So I’m very excited to share this Quranic gem with you because afterwards, you and your children can enjoy experimenting together!

Today’s gem is from Surah Al-Furqaan, verse 53:

And it is He who has released the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition.” (Al-Furqaan: 53)

Subhanallah, what a wonderful miracle.

So, two points that we’ll look at today, based on the above verse, are the following:

  • Allah has created fresh and salty water
  • Allah has created a barrier between the two types of water

We can start by first helping our children understand the difference between fresh and salty water. Obviously, the easiest way to introduce them to this concept is by letting them find out how water taste with and without salt :). Then you can tell your children that this is the difference between water in the rivers, lakes and streams (fresh) and water in the ocean (seawater).

Explain to your children that the salt content (also known as “salinity”) differs from one ocean to another. In some places, the water is more salty than in other places.

As a side activity, if you have a globe, you can also ask your children to point out the different oceans around the world. (You can let them write down the ocean names too. My son always likes to write down these things in a list and the good thing about it is that it helps him memorize things too, alhamdulillah.)

In the above verse, Allah also says that the two types of water don’t mix. Marine experts call this boundary “halocline”. This phenomenon normally occurs where freshwater and sea water meet.

(Note: The details might be a bit difficult for young children to understand, but for the benefit of parents, here’s a fascinating article from Discover magazine that tells about this phenomenon: http://discovermagazine.com/2014/julyaug/16-cave-man )

The reason for this separation is due to the different density of fresh water and seawater. I know the word “density” might sound a bit complicated to explain to young children, so to make it easier to understand you can say that things that are more dense are heavier. Don’t worry, after some hands-on activities, this will be more clear to them, inshaAllah.

Now, here are two very exciting, fun experiments that you can do with your junior scientists to demonstrate this concept!

  1. The “Suspended Egg” Experiment 
  2. Salt Water-Fresh Water Experiment by Kiwi Crate

Have fun exploring!

Image Credit: luanarodriquez (Morguefile.com)

The Roof High Up Above

When you ask a child to look at the sky on a sunny day and tell you what he/she can see, what would be the most likely answer?

Its blue color, white clouds here and there, and a bright shining sun, maybe? I would guess so.

Now, how about sharing with them something amazing that would make them look at the sky a little differently next time.

Time for another awesome Quranic gem!

This time, you and your children can explore a perfect system at work that Allah ‘azza wa jall has put in place to make life on earth possible: the protective layer high up in the sky – the ozone layer.

Before we go on further to explain about the ozone layer in detail (and by the way, don’t worry, we won’t be using complicated scientific terms and jargons!), let’s start with a simple analogy that kids can grasp easily – in this case, the roof of the house.

The main purpose of the roof is to keep out extreme heat, rain and cold from harming the people inside the house. Ask your children to think: what would happen if a house doesn’t have a roof? Would we be able to live comfortably without it?

Then, we can explain to them that high, high up in the sky, Allah has created a special kind of roof for the Earth, known as the ozone layer.

Let’s check out the ayah in Surah Al-Anbiyaa’ that tells us about this (you can read this ayah along with its translation with your children):

And We made the sky a protected roof, but they, from its signs, are turning away.” (Al-Anbiyaa’: 32)

Subhanallah. Scientists only discovered this fact in the early 20th century, yet Allah has revealed this knowledge to us in the Quran way before that!

Your ever-curious children would still want to know – why does the Earth need a roof, anyway?

Here’s why: although the sunlight has many great benefits, the sun actually produces different kinds of light. One of these is called ultraviolet (UV) ray that can harm our skin. The reason that we and other living creatures on Earth are able to live is because much of this harmful ray has been filtered.

Remind our children that we should always be grateful to Allah for creating this wonderful environment, and one of the many ways to do this is to do our bit in protecting it. Remember, it’s never too early to educate our children about caring for the environment.

Here are a few suggestions on further reading and activities that you can do together:

  • Discuss what you can do to play a part in keeping the air clean. You can also refer to this page for more information.
  • Explore the Ozzy Ozone website, part of the UN Environment Program aimed at increasing awareness among children about the ozone layer.
  • Learn about World Ozone Day (Sept. 16) and find out local community/school programs that you and your children can participate in.

Mercy from the Sky

I think many of you would agree with me that rain isn’t really something that kids usually get too excited about (remember the “Rain, Rain, Go Away” nursery rhyme?). In fact, they might even get a little upset since a rainy day means staying indoors instead of going out and playing with friends.

When our kids start complaining about rainy weather, maybe it’s about time to make them realize that it really isn’t such a bad thing afterall :).

Why do we need rain?

Allah says in Surah An-Nahl, verse 10:

It is He who sends down rain from the sky, from it is drink and from it is foliage in which you pasture the animals.” (An-Nahl: 10)

In the same surah, Allah also says:

And Allah has sent down rain from the sky and given life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who listen.” (An-Nahl: 65)

There are probably tons of “rainy day activities” that you can think of to keep your little ones occupied at home (which I think is a wonderful thing, really). However, what’s more important than that is to teach our children that rain isn’t something that we should complain about. This is even more important since as Muslims, we consider rain as one of the greatest blessings that Allah has sent down to us.

Spend some time to ponder upon the above verses with your children and the lessons we can learn from them:

  • Begin by reading these verses and the translation together. There are a number of places in the Quran where Allah talks about rain; you can always refer to these other verses as well. Then, ask them to list the benefits of rain as mentioned in those verses.
  • Discuss with your children what they think would happen to people, animals and plants if Allah doesn’t send down rain. Show them pictures of places that are/were affected by drought. Make your children understand why it’s not good to complain when it rains.
  • Teach them to recite the du’a when it’s raining, and the du’a for asking for rain.
  • Tell your children that rain water is considered pure and can be used for purification, i.e. making wudhu’.

Let me share a few other activities that you can do together with your kids:

  • Explore lessons on water cycle to give them an idea how rain is formed. You can even make your own water cycle diagram.
  • Help them make their own rain gauge. The simplest way is by using an empty plastic water bottle:
    • First, cut the top part of the bottle (about 5 cm from the top).
    • Turn this top part upside down and place it inside the bottle to make it look like a funnel.
    • Mark the measurement units on the outer part of the bottle using a marker (in centimeter or inch).
    • Set the rain gauge out to collect rain water. Once the rain stops, let your little scientist measure the rainfall! 🙂
  • Ask your children to set out an empty bucket to collect rain water so that it can be used for watering the plants, washing the car and cleaning. Explain to them that this is one of the methods to conserve water. Additionally, this can be a good point to introduce our children to the concept of being “eco-friendly”.

Have a great time learning with your children!

Image Credit: missprint2 (Morguefile.com)

Miracle in Pairs (of Everything!)

(Photo credit: AcrylicArtist @ Morguefile.com)

Although they might not realize it, children are normally exposed to the concept of pairs at a very young age. They know that when a new sibling is born, the baby can either be a “boy” or “girl”, brother or sister. They also know that there is such a thing as “day time” and “night time”. (By the way, if you missed the post about the day and night miracle, you can read it here.)

In this post, we’ll see how we can approach this subject with our children. It’s an amazing thing really, which is why I’d love to share this particular Quranic gem with you.

Let’s take a look at verse 36 in surah Yaa-Seen:

Glory be to the One, who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as themselves, and other things they do not know.” (Yaa-Seen: 36)

In another verse, Allah subhaanaahu wa ta’aala also says:

And of all things We have created pairs, so that you may remember.” (Adh-Dhaariyaat: 49)

SubhaanAllah. Just think about that. Allah has created people and things in pairs as a sign for us to remember and ponder upon.

Now, how do we go about teaching and encouraging our children to appreciate this fact?

I always prefer to start with what they already know (something like a “warm-up”, if you will). For instance, you can ask your kids to list as many things that “come in two” that they can think of: shoes, socks, hands, feet – anything.

Once they’ve listed what they know, explain to them how a pair is incomplete and might not work nice and well if they don’t come in two. They might be opposites and very different from each other, but both are needed nevertheless (One helpful example is a soccer game. Two teams are playing against each other but you can’t have a game if there’s only one team, can you?).

InshaAllah, once they get this idea, we can move on to explain that Allah has also created people as well as so many other things on earth in pairs, and there is a wisdom behind this. Always keep in mind that the main goal is to let our children see this as a sign of the Greatness of their Creator.

Here’s my suggestion for a list that you and your kids can work on together to illustrate the concept of pairs to your children:

Living Organisms

  • Humans (male & female)
  • Animals (male & female)
  • Plants (Yes, there are male and female flowers, too! Read more about it here.)

Taste

  • Bitter and sweet
  • Fresh and Salty (sea water)

Universe

  • Day and Night
  • Darkness and Light
  • Sun and Moon
  • Earth and Sky
  • Fire and Water
  • Good and Bad

Temperature

  • Heat and Cold

Emotions

  • Happiness and Sadness
  • Anger and Pleasure

(You can always be creative; use colors, pictures, cut-outs or anything that can make your list look nice.)

Ask our children to think: what if one exists without the other?

Do bear in mind that this is by no means an all-inclusive, comprehensive list. As mentioned in verse 36 in Surah Ya-Seen, the pairs that Allah has created are not limited to those mentioned above, i.e. those that we already know. It’s important to let our children know that every now and then, a new discovery is made somewhere in the world. So, just because we haven’t figured them out yet does not mean they’re not out there!