This book is unique on so many levels, first it was written in Sudanese Arabic, a dialect I am not too familiar with, but excited to learn. Second, it is read sideways, which allows more room for the English rhythmical text and Arabic translations. And third, it features sensational photos of Sudan, transposed with كديسة (kadis or cat) drawings from artist Sharhabil Ahmed.
My daughters and I enjoyed learning about Sudan through the adventures of the cats and we went online to look up more information. We found that students historically used wood writing boards to practice their Arabic calligraphy and to help them memorize Qur’anic verses.
To help us learn the new Sudanese Arabic words in the back of the book, we made a writing board to draw what we were learning on the different pages. I had received this chalkboard paint as a Plaid Ambassador and the Liquid Chalk was perfect for letting us draw an image, wipe it off, and draw the next. Just like a real writing board from Sunday! Except that with the liquid chalk, there is no smudging if someone accidentally touches it.
Follow the manufactures instructions on how to apply the chalkboard paint. Ours says to add three layers, waiting an hour between coats. Once the third layer was on, we left it alone for 24 hours to set.
While we waited, we worked on making our stencils for the Arabic word for cat: كديسة and one of the cats from the book. To make the word, we laid the stencil over the book and traced out the letters. To make sure we don’t lose the hole in the last letter ة, we added lines to keep it attached.
My 11 year old daughter made this craft, so I helped her with the smaller turns in the letters, but she did the straight areas to practice working with an xacto.
We decided to go with one of the simpler cat drawings and traced it also. At this point my daughter was able to cut out the whole cat by herself with the Xacto.
We set everything aside for the next day. After the 24 were done and our wood board was dry, we conditioned it according to our directions. First we covered the whole thing with chalk. Then we wiped it off with soap and water.
We waited till our board was dry and placed our stencil on top. We sponge painted the letters.
We also added the كديسة.
Now the fun began as we used the pages of the book to inspire our drawings.
First we stared with a zir, زير, a type of clay water pot that cools water though evaporation. You can find azyar, أزيار, the plural of zir, along the way for travelers to sip on hot, windy desert days. A visual reminder of the generosity and hospitality of the Sudanese people.
While we had our paintbrush out, we also fixed the connection to make our last letter, ة, complete.
Once the chalk paint is dry, it is smudge proof.
However, with just a little water and wrist strength, it can be made clean.
Now our board is ready for our next lesson, about kusseh alsukr, sugar cane, قصب السكر.
We can add a hook to the back of the board and hang it up as art.
Grab your copy of this delightful book and support Multicultural Book Day by stopping by on Saturday for the big link party!
If you enjoyed this DIY craft and book review, pleas stop by
Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more tutorials.