Seattle Arab Cultural Camp Roundup {Outing}

Last week we held an Arab Cultural Camp in our home to teach local children about the group of people that live in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region of the world.

 

I had spent years working at a girl scout camp in our area, so being around the camp concept with children was not new to me. I knew I wanted to have an Arab cultural theme because Seattle has other camps that focus on the MENA area, therefore the interest is already in the community. I used the tutorials from this blog to fill the day with activities that were not religious or political and made sure to also include lots of physical, outdoor play.

 

In case others wanted to conduct a similar camp in their area, here was our fun, filled schedule.

 

Monday

We started the day by getting to know the kid’s names with camp name tag badges. The kids used Sharpies to decorate rectangle piece of wood, with a hole drilled in one corner. They could either write down their real names, or come up with a camp name.  Once they were done, the kids added yarn into the hole to make necklaces.  In the photo are my Camel camp badges, from the last two years at girl scout camp, that the kids used as an example.

Once we were finished, we dove right in and made art based on the Mosque Salt and Glue Watercolor Card {Tutorial}. While we waiting for the glue to dry outside, we made apples from the Nowruz Sib Origami {Tutorial}, plus some stars, in the living room.

After we finished our art, we took a break for lunch, which included a walk to the local park for our physical activity of the day. I had planned for the kids to take the Mosque Cardboard Ring Toss {Tutorial}, but it wasn’t easy to carry.  I have to put my thinking cap on and come up with a new one that can easily travel.

 

Upon our return, we got right down to business making room decor with the Halal/Haram Sharpie Light Switch {Tutorial}, followed up with punching paper to make a few bookmarks from the Moon and Star Punch Art Bookmark {Tutorial}. Then we stopped for a snack break to make some Ramadan Man’ousheh Mini Bites {Recipe} and finished our day stamping t-shirts to prep them for tomorrow.

Tuesday

Now that the tshirts were dry from being out in the sun all day, the kids took scissors to them to turn them into bags, for us to donate, based on the instructions from the No Sew Tshirt Bag {Tutorial}.  We then spent a little time making sand dollars look like real money with metal paint, just like in our Glittered Seashell Beach Art {Tutorial} and had way too much fun with Eid Green Slime {Tutorial}.  As in the kids didn’t want to go to the next activity!  But we managed to get them to paint with celery from the Palm Tree Celery Stamp Art {Tutorial} before we stopped for lunch.

Today was one of the hottest days in Seattle all summer.  Even with the air conditioning inside, it was just too hot to move.  So, with permission from the moms, we spent the rest of the day at our private swim club, soaking up some rays.

Wednesday

Half way through our week, we thought we would pause and spent a little time to talk about things that we are grateful for.  We placed those things on shimmering rocks with help from instructions on the Alhamdulillah Rocks {Tutorial}, before we moved on to make khatam earrings and necklace charms to gift to others (khatam is the Arabic word for eight point star) based on the Moon & Star Paint Chip Earrings {Tutorial} .

Our lavender bush in our front yard was in full of bloom, so the kids spent a little time picking the harvest to make it into a refreshing spray.  The kids then got down and dirty, to make goop to hold together their yarn art from the Crescent Moon And Star Yarn Window Art {Tutorial}.

We took a break for lunch, with also included a walk to a local park, before we rounded out our day to cut up some felt based on the Crescent Moon and Star Straw Toppers {Tutorial}. We enjoyed them with milk, while we cut up our food to make a Eid Party Fruit Snack {Recipe}.

Thursday

Today we spent a little time talking about the different countries of the Arab world and painting some rocks to represent their flags, based on the Arab World Rocks {Tutorial}. We went on to paint in the kitchen with sweet sticky fingers from the Sugar and Wax Resist Painting {Tutorial}, before covering crutches headed to Syrian refugees in whimsical duct tape to brighten them up.

Our last activity of the day in the studio was to make charms from the Islamic Shrinky Dink Charms {Tutorial} before heading back into the kitchen.

Once there, the kids learned about hummus.  They also made man’ousheh again since they loved it so much the first day.  Then as a special treat, we finished the day off again at the pool, this time inviting friends and siblings to join us and our home made snacks.  (I also gave each mom hummus I had pre-made to enjoy with the rest of the family later.)

Friday

It’s hard to believe we went through over 20 activities for the week.  We’ve been spending so much time making art about the MENA region, we went out today to find it.

 

We took the bus to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) to look first. We found a khatam design on the wall in the Islamic room and in a new instillation in the Sub-Saharan Africa galleries.

None of the camp kids had ever been to a museum, so we spent a little time exploring other rooms as well (the Japanese tea room was a huge hit). As someone who has been giving (adult) tours at SAM for 24 years, it was a wonderful experience for me to be around children for a change.

We had lunch in the museum cafe before heading to buy gum. They chewed and chewed it until it was soft before adding it to the Pike Place gum wall.

We washed our hands (I promise!), then bought cookies for the rest of the walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park (also part of SAM and free!) to look at more art. As a reward for all the walking the campers had done (close to 15 blocks!), I rewarded them with candy from the Kaab’a Candy Party Treat {Tutorial} I had made as I told them about the upcoming Eid Al Adha.

Once the kids were finished running in between the sculptures, we took the monorail back to our bus stop. One of the campers pointed out a khatam on our walk, can you see it?

For me personally, to introduce children to museums meant that Friday was to be one of the highlights of my week. I hope they go back.

 

Tips

Overall, the Arab cultural camp was a huge success as far as the moms were concerned. The campers went home tired, having learned new things. However, if I were to do this camp again next year, I would put into place these learning experiences:

 

Register early – Having the families register early gives you a better idea of how much you need to have on hand for supplies.  I am fortune that my studio is well stocked as a Plaid Ambassador, so I was able to grab so many different types of paints and brushes for our projects.  However, there were some things that needed to be bought before hand: name tags, t-shirts, light switches, celery, etc.

 

Advertise – I spent weeks before the camp setting up Facebook events, to invite all my mom friends, plus I sent out press releases to all the major newspapers.  I placed flyers in the Arab grocery stores and sent out emails to people I had worked with on similar children educational projects in the past. Next time, I would start earlier and advertise months in advance.

 

Print out activities – The campers outnumbered my volunteers, so having print outs of the instructions really helped the kids. I didn’t do this the first day and found myself repeating directions several times.  On the second day and moving forward, I made sure to not only include the written instructions, but also photos for the younger ones that can’t quite read.

 

Keep it light – Kids learn best with hands on activities that are fun. Rather then spend time with a slide show about the Arab world, I would just sprinkle little bits of trivia through the day.  For example, while painting the Arab flags, I might mention to someone who was painting Morocco that the first university in the world was created there by a woman.

 

Have some down time – I’m convinced that kids in the summer metamorphosis into sloths.  Who can blame them with all the over stimulation we give them the rest of the year? So if you are planning a similar camp, make sure to include a park, a pool, or an outing, to let them vegetate, every day.  It really is okay for them to be bored. This forces them to engage with the other kids at camp, or have a little time to collect themselves before the next set of activities.

 

Get community help – I had planned on hiring a local Arab musician to come show the kids how to play the darbuka.  Unfortunately, I was not able to raise enough funds this year, but hope to bring him next year.  Look around your community and see if there are others with a talent to include in the activities. This gives the kids a chance to learn from other voices.

 

xxx

Overall, I’m happy the camp went well and I’m looking forward to recreating it again next summer. On a much larger scale now that I’ve had the experience.

 

See you next year: as a camper, volunteer or cheerleader on this wonderful endeavor!

Top Ten Fun Facts about Tunisia {Resource} Guest Post

To start the fourth annual Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month blog hop, I’ve written a guest post for Multicultural Kid Blogs about Tunisia.

Please stop by Ten Fun Facts about Tunisia post to learn more about this North African country.

 

 

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to the fourth annual Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs! Visit all the participating blogs below for great resources on teaching children about the heritage of this region. Don’t miss our series from last year, 2016, and 2015!

You can also find even more resources on our North Africa and the Middle East Pinterest board:

Participating Blogs
A Crafty Arab on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Family in Finland

Kid World Citizen

Pakistan Straw Topper Flag {Tutorial} Plus Meet Yasmin {Book Review}

I was recently sent the picture book Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Hatem Aly, from Capstone Publishing.

 

This fictional tale is about a spirited second grader named Yasim, who lives with a multi-generational Pakistani American family.  She has adventures as an explorer, a painter, a builder and a fashionista.

 

I took the book to my story time at the library and it got a room full of thumbs up. Everyone that attends is in age range of 4-6, so the book was perfect since the author suggests a range of 5-8.  I read them the chapter on  Yasmin being a painter.  We then talked about times we were in art class when we feel that we are not any good.  The kids loved that there was a person just like them, who feels that way about their artwork too.  It was such a great discussion about how art allows you to make mistakes.

 

While reading the story, I returned to talk about the word “jaan” in the chapter.  Yasmin’s mother says it to her and I shared the appendix in the back with the kids to show them what it means, life, and is used as a term of endearment in Urdu. I also showed the kids another page on Pakistan facts and a recipe for lassi, a yogurt drink.

 

When I got home, I shared the book with my teen, who wanted to try to make the lassi.

 

She had a little fun with the straw, by adding a Pakistan flag, based on our previous moon & star straw toppers.  There is an image of it in the back on the Pakistan facts page. The flag is a green field with a white crescent moon and five-rayed star at its center, and a vertical white stripe at the hoist side. Since the side of the flag is white, when she drinks the lassi, the clear straw also turns white.

 

The drink recipe only took a few minutes to make and was so yummy.

Lassi Ingredients

3 cups plain yogurt
2 cups milk
ice cubes
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

 

My daughter placed the ice in a blender first.

After crushing it, she added all the other ingredients.

After everything was pureed, we placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours to get cold.

While we were waiting for the lassi to get cold, we made a Pakistan flag with a few simple things we had around the house. Including a fun bottle of fabric paint I received as a Plaid Ambassador.

 

Supplies

Green felt
Fabric paint
Straw
Paintbrush
Scissors

My daughter started by cutting out a small flag shape from the green felt. It measured approximately 2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.

My daughter then used the scissors to cut out two slits for the straw to fit.

She used the fabric paint to create a stripe on the side of the flag, covering up the slits she just cut.

My daughter used the smallest brush we had, to create a small crescent moon and star shape on the side.

Once the Pakistan flag straw topper was dry, we used it to drink the cold lassi.

 

What a fun book Meet Yasmin! is and we are so happy to try a new drink.

Check out other book reviews that include crafts on the education page. Visit these other easy, multicultural kid recipes.

Eid Party Fruit Snack {Recipe}

Ramadan Man’ousheh Mini Bites {Recipe}

 

Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more fun tutorials.