Ramadan Mubarak! I just taught a room full of preschoolers (from different backgrounds) what that means…I hope. Last month, I asked my sons’ preschool teachers if I could share Ramadan with their classmates, holding my breath as many Muslim Americans do when putting themselves out there, but was received warmly and enthusiastically. Alhamdulillah.
I have a fond memory of being in 4th grade and presenting Ramadan to my classmates, aided by a large white poster board that read “I AM A MUSLIM”. That was the early 90’s, pre-September 11th. A time where I thought being Muslim made me unique and not “other”. It’s been 18 years, and I still hold my breath anytime I tell someone I’m Muslim. Still trying to feel unique and not “other”.
Luckily for me, preschoolers are living symbols of hope: curious, honest, and open minded. Their squirmy little bodies greeted me with warm smiles and anticipation, because anything outside of the routine of morning circle time is an adventure. I decided to use the following lesson plan:
Introduction: Who I am and why I’m here.
Book: I read “It’s Ramadan, Curious George”. It has a familiar character to keep their attention. It also takes readers over the basic elements of Ramadan, fasting, charity, Eid, but doesn’t really cover unique traditions or why the main character Kareem is fasting. For the preschool and kinder audience I think it was enough. Here is a list of other books I’ve reviewed.
Activities: I created 3 activity sheets to emphasize different parts of Ramadan (my inspo was RamadanREADy’s great resources). You can save the .jpgs below or Right-Click-Save-As the links for the PDFs.
Fasting “Share A Meal “: To emphasize the intention of fasting to increase empathy toward the less fortunate, this worksheet invites little people to draw the meal they would like to share with someone. It was also a fun moment to hear what their favorite foods were. Cupcakes, donuts, and candy were high on the list.
Celebrating Eid “Henna Hands”: The book highlights the “new clothes” aspect of Eid. I talked about that and added that women often put henna on their hands and invited them to draw their own designs. The inspiration for this activity came from RamadanREADY, an amazing group that creates educational boxes for librarians.
Sighting the Ramadan Moon “Moon Phases”: The kids really enjoyed the final activity. Using the worksheet, I explained that Ramadan starts when the moon is at its first phase (waxing crescent moon). We briefly talked about how the moon looks different throughout the month. Then the grand finale, each child was given an Oreo (these are Trader Joe’s Oreos which are kosher). At the same time, we opened our Oreos and discovered a full moon. The kids were invited to bite or lick away the cream to create a crescent moon. Thankfully preschoolers aren’t perfectionists and they had a great time.
Side Notes: I opted not to bring in dates because small children don’t have the palate. I also stayed away from too many culture specific elements, such as clothing, because Islam doesn’t belong to one culture. I didn’t want to confuse little minds.
I’ve done a lot of things to share Islam in my lifetime, but I will say this experience ranked in the top 3. Probably because it brought so much joy to my two sons. Muslims will never find acceptance and peace if we choose to segregate ourselves and hide who we are. We need to extend a hand to anyone who will take it. Changing minds is done one heart at a time. So I invite you to talk to your librarians and teachers, they are your biggest advocates.
For more information on RamadanREADy visit their website, and don’t forget to donate!
Peace & Salam,