We love the story of How many Donkeys; An Arabic Counting Tale by Margaret Read McDonald, a Seattle librarian who has written many multicultural books.
In the book, Goha, the wise fool, is taking his dates to sell at the market. He’s using 10 donkeys to help get him there, but keeps losing a donkey en route. Readers help Goha count his donkeys along the way with a reading chart at the bootom of the page that shows how to count in Arabic and English.
I love using this book when I do Arabic storytelling at the library because so many of the kids figure out what happens to the missing donkey and love screaming out the answer.
I decided to create a story board to help my daughter count but instead of donkeys, we used pumpkin seeds. We decided to color the seeds to make them look like grains of desert sand. We also cut out some paper palm trees and a donkey to spend the afternoon imaging all kinds of play scenes.
Place a few drops of yellow food coloring in the plastic container and one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Add a handful of seeds in the mix.
Place the container lid on and shake it until the seeds are coated with the food coloring.
Use the measruing spoon to take out just the seeds and lay them out to dry on the parchment paper. Throw in another handfull of seeds and add a few drops of red to turn the next patch into orange.
Lay those out on the parchment paper and add a few more drops to make the next batch a darker red. Your parchment paper should look like this:
We left our pumpkins seeds out to dry for 24 hours, making sure to turn them over a few times.
While they were drying, we made some cut outs for our storyboard. The leaves for our palm trees were made from cutting the edges off a rectangle piece of paper. Then we cut it in half. The trunk of the palm tree was made from cutting an arch from another rectangle piece of paper. We just free hand cut the donkey.
Once our seeds were dried, we put our scene together with our colorful sand.
We spent our afternoon playing with the seeds and counting with Goha.
And it’s so easy for anyone to count in Arabic, since the book includes how to pronounce each number. Brilliant!
Hope you enjoyed our book review and pumpkin seed tutorial. If you’d like to see more of our Arabic books crafts, please visit
Here’s a link to the book if you’d like to buy your own copy: