Monday, June 15, 2015

The Lonley Scarecrow

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Today, we will take a break from our review of the One Small Square Series to review The Lonely Scarecrow in'shaa Allaah.

This book is a wonderful choice for read-aloud time because the story lends itself to discussions about treating others kindly. In this story, a scarecrow longs to be friends with the animals that live in the field in which he stands, but the animals are afraid to approach him because of his looks. They do not realize that the scarecrow is kind and even though he looks menacing and scary, he is not. 

There are so many concepts that this book can help children discuss and understand: compassion and tolerance are two, and you can also teach character analysis with this book.

Here is what has to say about The Lonely Scarecrow : A kindly scarecrow wants to be friends with the birds and animals that play at the edge of his wheat field, but they are afraid of him because of his clothing and "his beady eyes, his crooked nose, and his jagged metal mouth." Many animals watch him, but none dare to approach him. As winter arrives, the creatures run home to their burrows and nests. Then one night, snow falls and turns the scarecrow into a jolly snowman, and the animals play with him. Though he is happy now, he worries that when the snow melts, he will be alone again. But his fears are unfounded; the animals are surprised to learn his true identity, but they love him just the same.

How would you use this book in your home-classroom/ traditional classroom?

Until the next book in'shaa Allaah...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Become a Spelunker in One Small Square

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

What is a spelunker?! Young learners find out in One Small Square: Cave

Continuing with the review of the One Small Square series, today, in'shaa Allaah, we will take a look at this exciting book. 

In One Small Square: Cave, children will explore the stunning world of caves in this beautifully illustrated book, and while their eyes feast on the many wonders found in caves, they will learn how Allaah has shaped and formed and created the rocks, plants, and animals that live in caves. 

Children will also learn that Allaah has created some animals to live in caves - in complete darkness - their entire lives. Many of these creatures are blind and some even have no eyes at all. Subhana'Allaah! 

Young learners will discover that caves have a zone called the twilight zone and it is in this zone where plants grow and many animals that do not live their entire lives in caves come to rest, give birth, and escape cold and danger.  

Like the other books that have been reviewed so far in this series, educators will need to reword and correct a few sentences that refer to nature as a force that creates, maintains and sustains creatures and plants, instead of Allaah aza wa jal. Alhamdulillaah, these sentences are few (only two or three short sentences in this book, if I am not mistaken), and they are easily reworded.  

In'shaa Allaah, in One Small Square: Cave, children will continue to enjoy their journey through and exploration of the natural world that Allaah has created, and if you haven't already read the reviews for some of the other books in this series, you can do so here in'shaa Allaah. 

Until the next book in'shaa Allaah... 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Explore the African Savanna from One Small Square

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

It is hard to imagine that children will be disappointed in the adventure that awaits them in One Small Square: African Savanna.

Life and death on the savanna and the incredible way in which Allaah has decreed that animals make their living and survive in this environment are explained well in this book. Additionally, children will gather much knowledge from the informative captions that surround the pages.

However, like the other books from this series that have been reviewed here on The Well Read Muslim, there are sentences that parents/educators will need to reword so children are not taught concepts that conflict with the shari'ah. One such sentence is "Nature depends on everything living on the savanna to do its part." Nature here seems to refer to what non-Muslims believe creates, maintains, and sustains the natural world that Allaah created. The two or three sentences that follow the above-mentioned sentence confirm this, so parents/educators will need to reword these sentences in'shaa Allaah. Overall, however, there is much children can learn in this book alhamdulillaah, under the guidance of a parent/educator.

Here is what has said about One Small Square: African Savanna: The African grasslands stretch across the continent below the Sahara. In a swuare of land about the size of a living room, children will see animals they might have encountered only at the zoo. . .discover the rewards and dangers of their natural home. . .and observe how these creatures live with each other in a changing, endangered environment. It's an exciting journey of discovery, coming to you from the One Small Square series of interactive science and nature books. . .where the next stop could be as near as your backyard or as far as half a world away.

If you haven't read the other One Small Square series reviews here on The Well Read Muslim, you can find them here in'shaa Allaah.

Until the next book in'shaa Allaah...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Another Small Square Right in Your Backyard

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Continuing with our review of the One Small Square series, we'll look at One Small Square: Backyard.

This book, like One Small Square: Woods, is an adventure wrapped up nicely between the covers of a book. This book, however, must be read with some caution because there are several references to the "survival of the fittest" and evolution, which conflict with the shari'a. Parent-teachers and other educators can easily re-word these sentences to avoid teaching children these ideas. Children can be told that it is Allaah who decides who lives and who dies, it is Allaah who provides for all of His creation and no other (i.e. nature, man, etc.) has any say in this. Alhamdulillaah, children can still learn much from this book and there is so much for them to discover among its pages, but it is not a book that should be left for children to read on their own.

Like the other books in the series, the activities get children out into the natural world and they (i.e. the activities) encourage children to notice and pay attention to the ayaat of Allaah. As well, the illustrations can provide children with sustained periods of exploration; there is so much to discover on each page but not too much that the senses are overwhelmed.

Here is what has to say about One Small Square: Backyard : An exciting journey of science discovery is as near as your own backyard. Just one small square is alive with creepers and crawlers, lifters and leapers, singers, buzzers, climbers, builders, and recyclers. Backyard invites children ages 7 and up to become nature lovers by looking, listening, touching, and smelling the world from the ground up! ...[With] the unique One Small Square series of science activity books ...children can explore exotic and familiar ecosystems in detail, one small square at a time.

Until the next book in'shaa Allaah...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

One Small Square, One Big Adventure

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

In the last post, I mentioned how delightful it is to find a book that teaches children important concepts and is beautifully illustrated.  In this post, and upcoming posts in'shaa Allaah, a series of books will be reviewed that also have these two attributes. The first book to be reviewed from the series is One Small Square.

There are so many things about this book that children can enjoy. The illustrations are beautiful, the tone makes readers feel as if they are being led through the woods by a tour guide who is carefully and quietly telling them about all of the wonderful things can be found in the woods - if only one is looking - and the activities are engaging and appeal to children's natural curiosity. The wonder doesn't end there. In the back of the book, in a black and white square, children are invited to find animals and insects that were featured in the book and there are several pages that picture and name the animals, insects, and plants that appeared in the book.

This is a book that you can read aloud to children, bits at a time, and then place in your home or classroom library and allow children to pour over the pages and discover so many ayaat of Allaah. This is also a book that can be enjoyed in every season because the author features the woods in each season and provides an activity (and in some seasons, activities) that children can complete independently in many cases.

Children in grades 1-4 may enjoy this book very, very much! There is only one point/sentence in the book that parents and/or teachers will need to modify: Educators will need to remind children that what occurs in the natural world only does so by the Permission of Allaah. Children must also be reminded that nature does not create anything nor does it sustain or provide for itself, independent of Allaah's Mercy or Permission.

From The woods are full of puzzles to be solved, clues to be found. Inspired by this book's hints and fun-filled experiments and activities, and using only simple equipment, young readers unlock the closely guarded secrets of the woods­­ from the strange meetings of lazy butterflies, to the miraculous "walking" of a twig, to the riddle of why the leaves turn color and fall. One small square at a time, these "detectives" plunge deeper and deeper into ancient mysteries­­ without ever getting lost. Beautifully illustrated, Woods offers a picture field guide, a glossary-index, and a resource list.

Until the next book in'shaa Allaah....