Keffiyeh Paper Topper {Tutorial} plus Farah Rocks Fifth Grade {Review}

We made these keffiyeh paper toppers after we recently received the book Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj from the publisher Capstone to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

This book is the start of a series that will be about a Palestinian girl named Farah Hajjar, who will be starting a different school the following year as she enters sixth grade. She hopes to enter a new academy with her best friend, but she starts to think twice about leaving her special needs younger brother behind on his own, in their old school. A bully situation has come up and without giving too much away, Farah, who had only one goal: to get into the academy, starts to have bad grades. On purpose!

What I loved most about this book is that Farah and her family are Christian, and she discusses her family commissioning a stained glass window in their church in Chapter 1. It is such a big misconception that all Arabs are Muslim, when more Arab Americans celebrate Christmas than celebrate Eid. I am happy to finally see that the publishing industry is shining some lights on books from the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region that are not Muslim focused.

My daughter wanted to share the book with some friends, who always had questions about her faith. She wanted to show them that there were different types of Arabs, just like there were different types of Americans. I suggested we share the link with their mothers so that they could buy it also and we could host a book club at our home. She loved the idea and made sure to invite friends from all three major faiths, Christians, Jewish, and Islam, to join us.

To celebrate the unity of religions in Palestine, we decided to make straw toppers for our book club drinks. We hoped they would be a great start to our conversation.

To make them, we went back to a map of Palestine from 1917, before it was divided up by the British. Diversity was celebrated and there were a number of factories that made keffiyeahs, the traditional head scarf worn in the MENA region. Now, outside of China, there is only one factory making this headscarf in Palestine.

Traditionally thought of as only black & white, keffiyeahs actually come in many colors.

To get started on our paper toppers, we printed ours at about 3 inches.

We colored in the Palestine country outline first. This way, we do not have to worry about staying in the lines, as we’ll be cutting it out anyway.

After cutting out the country outlines, the final step is to tape the back of the colored map to the straw.

We made a few of them in different colors, just like the ones above.

This also will help keep everyone’s drinks apart.

Now our paper toppers are ready for our Farah Rocks Fifth Grade book club.

If you enjoyed this craft tutorial, please visit these others that educate about Palestine

Palestine Landscape Notebook {Tutorial}

Palestine

Fuzzy Ghoul Pillow {Tutorial}

I wanted to make a furry ghoul pillow to take with me to Arabic story time, for the kids to enjoy while I read the book The Ghoul by Taghreed Najjar.

I was recently sent the book by Interlink Books and I loved it. The illustrations are really beautiful, and could be made into a print for a children’s nursery. They were bright and colorful, each one depicted a Middle East village scene in a lively way. Some were so detailed that I could count the freckles on the ghoul’s cheeks.

The story line follows Hassan on his quest to go talk to the evil ghoul that has terrorized his village. No one around him thinks this is such a good idea. But honestly, he’s had enough of being afraid.

Upon arrival at the ghoul’s home, Hassan finds that not everything is as it seemed. What he (and his community) had created from their fear was not the reality but a distorted perspective.

I loved the final photo in the picture book of the ghoul with all the community children and the wide smile on his face. I wanted to try to capture that on a pillow that the kids can hold while I read the story.

Supplies

I cut two pieces of fuzzy fabric into a 18 inch squares. To help with bulk later when I am sewing, I went around all the edges and cut off 1/2 inches of the fur. I used a sewing gauge to show you how much to cut. You do not need this tool necessarily, just use a ruler or eye ball it.

I cut an oval shape out of the beige felt that I thought was about the right size for the head. I wanted it to be centered on the pillow and used the scissors to trim it until I had it the right size.

Again to help with the bulk later when this is going through the sewing machine, I cut off all the extra fur that was under the face.

I cut a mouth out of the brown felt, an eyebrow from the black felt and a nose from the red felt. After I took this photo, I also added two nostrils cut outs from the red felt.

The ghoul in the book does not have a full round eye, it is actually half a circle. I had to come up with a solution to cover up half his eye. First I cut out a round circle from the same color felt as the face. I used a circle cutter, but you can also place the google eye on the beige felt and cut around it, adding 1/4 an inch all the way around. I then cut out a smaller circle, but stopped half way and cut across.

There are google eyes that have sticky backs but this one did not. Even though the eyelid cover I had just made above could tuck the eye inside it, I still wanted a more secure way to attach the eye. I came up with the solution of adding two sets of holes with an awl. I used them like button holes to secure the eye to the face with the needle and thread.

Now that all my pieces were cut and the cyclopes eye was secure, it was the perfect time to play with all the pieces and make any adjustments.

I hand sewed the nose pieces, then used the sewing maching to attach the eye lid around the eye.

I attached the eyebrow and mouth, then placed the face on the fuzzy fabric and sewed it on as well.

I placed the two pieces of 18 inches fur, right sides facing and pinned them all the way around. I like to use the same color of pins and I will explain why in the next step.

Before I started to sew the pillow, I figured out how much of an opening I would need for the filling. I added two pins, from that measurement, that were a different color than the other pins above. These help tell me where to start and stop sewing.

I turned the pillow insidie out & added filling. You can also use newspaper or old clothes. I then hand sewed the opening shut.

And here is my ghoul pillow, ready for the kids at the library.

Stop by Interlake to see more books that offer a global, cosmopolitan perspective.

Please check out our other pillows we have made.

Mosque Hand Sewn Pillow {Tutorial}

No Sew Travel Pillow {Tutorial}

Stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see other tutorials that showcases the Arab world and Muslim culture.

Cardboard Home Telescope {Tutorial} Plus {Review}

This recycled cardboard home telescope began it’s life as two paper towel rolls. We added some reading glasses and paint to make a homemade telescope just like the one Sadiq, the protagonist from Sadiq and the Desert Star, used to help him look for stars.

Sadiq and the Desert Star is a new book by Somali American Siman Nuurali and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar. It was published by Capstone and they recently sent me an advanced copy to enjoy.

My daughter read the story, and had lots of questions about Berbera, Somalia, where Sadiq was from. We learned it is a coastal city and was the most important place of trade in the entire Horn of Africa. Sadiq’s grandfather used the desert star to guide his caravan trips through the Sahara Desert.

After we spent some time learning about Berbera, my daughter gathered supplies to start her telescope right away. She wanted to see if she could really see Mars, just like Sadiq and his friends at the observatory.

Supplies

The first step my daughter took in making her own telescope is to cut one of the paper rolls lengthwise.

She took the cut paper roll and placed it inside the other tube.

Next, I helped my daughter pop out the glasses from their frame and she taped one to the end of the cut paper roll. She made sure to place the curved side facing the tube.

Once that end was secure, she did the same to the other end, but this time she made sure the curved side of the glass faced away from the cardboard.

Next we painted the tube with cardboard paint. You can use any paint you want, but we thought it might be fun to use chalkboard paint so that we could use chalk on the tube to write down what we saw.


We had a bit of a problem trying to paint over the tape that attach the glasses. I think when we make more telescopes for our upcoming space club, we will have everyone paint their tubes before taping on the glasses.

Now our telescope was ready. We wanted to take a photo in the daytime to show you what it looks like, but please never, ever use your telescope to look at the sun. This is dangerous and could really hurt your eyesight.

While she did love this book overall, she was confused as to why Sadiq’s mother and sister were wearing the hijab in the kitchen. Her own grandmother and aunt, who wear the hijab everyday, always take it off when they come home.

My daughter did love the facts about Somalia that was included, as well as the new Somali terms she got to practice. For example, in Somali, a grandfather is awoowe, but in Libyan we use jidu. I also loved the glossary in the back for the astronomy terms, plus the sections that encouraged kids to talk about and write down their thoughts about the book.

There are more Sadizq books coming out and my daughter can’t wait to read them:

To check out our other reviews of books, with craft tutorials, visit

Meet Yasmin {Book Review}

Naji and the Mystery of the Dig {Book Review}

Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see hundreds of books lists and tutorials that teach about the Arab world and Muslim culture.