Category Archives: Teaching Tips

Wellness Wheels: Models for Homeschooling (and parenting)?


I was Googling life skills resources one day and came across some graphics which I thought were interesting.

I’m sure there are many terms for them, but one term for them was a “wellness wheel:”





Another variation:





The Wellness Wheel demonstrates how the dimensions come together to promote a more complete well-being.
When all six dimensions come together equally, the wheel is balanced. Lack of any of the six produces an unbalanced whole – this is normal!
Effort should be balanced among the dimensions in order for overall well-being to improve.


As I looked over them, I thought, what a great model not just for life skills but for homeschooling as well. As homeschoolers, it is easy to fall into the rut of focusing heavily on the secular subjects. As can be seen from the wheel, wellness, by Allah, comes from attempting to make sure that individuals are more well balanced (not just book smart, but street smart, money smart, has adequate social skills, knowledgeable about the deen (religion) as well as the ability to apply it to life, etc).

In addition, you can take this model into your secular courses to create a more enriched learning experience as well as one which is more hands on and related to real life (as opposed to knowledge for the sake of knowledge) by incorporating activities from among the different components (add physical exercise to a math drill or create more critical thinking opportunities in math instead of just doing math problems; learn about how a particular math concept is used in a particular occupational field, show real life applications for concepts studied).

If you are interested in learning more about the wellness wheel and its components, scroll back up to the “Source” links or Google “wellness wheel.”


Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Homeschool Management, Teaching Tips


What to Do When You’re Done


imageOver at the Muslim School Teacher blog, there’s a compiled list of activities that  students can do when they are finished with their work.  The list was made for non homeschooled students, I believe, but can be adapted for homeschoolers.

I had been meaning to do this for some time, so seeing this list inspired me to finally make up mine (thanks, ukhti).  I am  hoping to do a little more with my list other than just make it a list as it is now, (kind of how things work with workboxes and the schedule cards if you are familiar with those)  but at the present I hope the list will help us.


Download a Premade List

You can download my list below, because as was mentioned over the Muslim School Teacher, “why start from scratch?” (ok, obviously I started from scratch, lol, but if you don’t want to, then why? lol )  I’ve left in in word if you’d like to tweak it to meet your needs.  It is in a two column format, one column text, the second column a picture.



Making it More Than Just a List

Some ideas for turning it into something more than a list include, printing out pictures of the different tasks and putting on cards.  If you want a child to do particular ones, you can put those on a schedule strip (along with cards for each class) and state the order things must be completed in and then when finished, they do the activity on the card that you have designated.

Or you can put the cards in a jar and have student pick one out a random to do. That helps solve the “which one to do” dilemma if you haven’t specified an order.   I might try that one.

heart signature

By the way, over at the Muslim School Teacher, she has PDF, Word, and Open Office formats for downloading.


What do you do?

What do your kids do to fill time when they are done?  Please leave a comment and share your ideas/blog link about this topic with others…………….

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Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Teaching Tips


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Morning Meeting Agenda Cards

If you’re holding morning meetings, such as a Ramadan morning meeting (or any other time of the school year) I’ve made up some little cards that might come in handy for keeping things on track:

There’s a set of three, from one filled in with categories (Islamic greeting, calendar) to a totally blank one (good for non Muslims)

Morning Meeting Agenda Cards

morning meeting agenda

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Posted by on September 1, 2009 in Teaching Tips


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Lesson Planning Aids/Time Savers: Mega Activity List

Time Saver: Activities List for Lesson Planning


If you make your own educational materials like me, you probably spend a lot of time wracking your brain with each and every product (lesson/unit, etc) trying to include a variety of  fun, creative, meaningful activities and trying to use as many different modes of learning (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and hands on activities as you can. Sound familiar? 


The following is a master list of activities that I made to use when planning lessons or units. 


My hope is that I can use this list it to quickly come up with ideas for activities to include in lessons. Sometimes after I‘ve made a lesson, I come across something that would have been great to use. Well, that will probably still happen, as this list is not all-inclusive (I guess it could never be), but I think it’s a great start.


I thought other fellow “lesson makers” would find it helpful. If you know of any other activities, please email and let me know so that I can add them to my list, insha Allah.






letters, words


identify the root or affixes in words; add affixes to form new words


find smaller words in bigger words


reflect upon a concept, give opinion of concept; give your own examples of a concept; relate info to a personal experience


apply this concept to real life


Give/find/id antonyms/synonyms /for given words

Belongs or not?

Which letter, word, picture does not belong?


Have student make a  blog or website/page pertaining to a subject studied; to record experiments, write about what has been learned.


how many words can you think of to fit a spelling pattern or category?

Clue/Riddle Game

give student clues, student must say, point to or write the words, or pictures that match


Have student color in pictures, words, letters, etc. (coloring pages, bubble font words and letters)

Compare items/concepts

orally or written

Comprehension questions

about a video/reading/audio (speech, lecture)

Connect the dots

numbers, letters (English, foreign language)


convert verbal or written info into mental or drawn images


for handwriting and/or grammar, usage, mechanics, memorization foci


glue (paper on paper, objects such as macaroni onto an outlined letter/word), paint,  paper mache, build, etc

Crossword puzzle


Cut and Paste

cut out and paste pictures in order, letters in order to form a word pictures/words to an outlined area, shapes to make a picture, etc


define vocabulary


Have student physically  show how to do something


Write what is said


make a picture dictionary book, make a word dictionary, glossary; look up guide words, definitions


role playing (act out situations, play restaurant for math),

Draw/Make diagrams/charts/tables

picture, diagram, tables, charts, graphs, illustrate a concept/process (by hand or on computer)

Filling out forms


Following directions

student must make or do something based upon oral or written directions

Flashcard/Review deck drills



reading board games, bingo, tic tac toe, ladder game, bang, concentration, card game based upon content, file folder games

Hidden picture

find words, objects. Letters, in a picture

Lapbook/shape books


Make up own test

have student create questions from material that could form  test questions


Match pictures to pictures, words to pictures, words to words, clues to pictures or words, words to their definitions or examples of


ayaat, etc

Missing/Fill ins

Supply what is missing:

·         Letter or letters

·         Words

Can have student supply missing letters in words/sentences and those missing letters should be unscrambled to form a word that ties in with the topic being studied



Have student make up acronyms to remember bits of information (sentences or words)

Multiple choice

choose from 2-4 possible answers


Summarize orally what was read or heard


Student takes notes from your/a lecture or book


Write the plurals of given words


create a powerpoint tutorial/book/interactive material for student, have student make a powerpoint presentation


words, sentences, paragraphs, math problem answers (proofread for punctuation, spelling, capitalization, correctness)


Visual – Identify letters, words, sentences by sight

·         Circle a target letter/word/sentence or picture

·         Point to a target letter/word/sentence or picture

Audio –Identify letters, sounds, words, sentences that are dictated (by person, by computer audio, tape/cd)



Read an article and outline it


during reading, form questions from the material (e.g. convert headings into questions, make questions from sentences read)

Picture recall

Show student a picture for a minute or so, take away and have student write what he/she can remember

Pronunciation drill

make sure student is saying words, ayaat correctly


Make a jigsaw puzzle out of a picture that student has to put together

Pyramid writing

Write target words in adding one letter at a time per line (in English or foreign language)





Quiz/check for understanding


read a word/sentence, draw a picture to match


recite words, sentences, ayaat. Structure lessons where student is asked a question (such as a definition or what something is) and recites the answer in complete sentences.

Repeated reading

select a short passage (around 100 words for older students, maybe sentences for younger students) and have student reread several times each day to build fluency



·         Letters

·         Numbers

·         Actions/events

·         Put in Alphabetical order

·         Words (E.g. put the surah names in order)


·         Fill in missing letter, number, word in a pattern


pictures, words (onto a sorting board or sort by writing)

sort into categories: e.g. parts of speech, things that _____, by use/function, by color, shape, a certain characteristic


·         Prepare/give a speech

·         Orally answer a question

Timed Games

how many words (in  a category) can you come up with in x minutes; how many things can you find in the picture


answer if true/false; orally or written


Let student type words, letters, sentences on computer


Unscramble letters, words, sentences and put in order

Word Search

·         Use a word bank or clues for word search puzzles

·         find letters,  concept words in real life print (labels, books)—write them or cut them out and paste them


give a worksheet with varied of activities from this list or focus on just one activity


Handwriting  focus

Speed contest (how many times can you write a letter/word/sentence in a given amount of time)

Compose sentences based upon grammar concept, a certain theme/concept

Creative Writing (letter, brochure, RAFT)

Summarize (a reading selection, what you did t his week/what you learned this week/today); write a letter/email to family member summarizing what was learned

Expository (how to, informational/explain)




Write a caption to a picture; write about a picture

Write a paragraph based upon an outline

Write words, letters in sand, rice, with modeling clay, string (cursive)

Write a short story using vocabulary/spelling words

Write with your other hand

Write on someone’s back with your finger and guess what was written or drawn

write with pens, markers, crayons, paint brush

respond to prompts

journal writing

write a story/make a book for a younger student


If you’d like a printable copy, try this: homeschooling_lesson_activity_list

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Posted by on February 13, 2009 in Homeschool Management, Teaching Tips


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Islamic Studies Routine

Our Islamic Studies needed resuscitating so I put together a routine for  Islamic Studies just as I have for Arabic, English, math,



For a printable copy (PDF) click here: is-routine


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Arabic Routine


This is a revised outline of our Arabic class routine. Now, we don’t do everything everyday, but its a guide to keep us on track, to keep consistent and be sure that we review key concepts.


And here is our English one. This is for my 6-10 year olds.


I printed these out on cardstock (the pdfs) and then I place them in the plastic cover of my homeschooling binder so its handy. I’ve pretty much always used routines like these from the beginning of my homeschooling, but this is probably the most comprehensive that I have gotten. And now that I have them handy on the cover of my binder, I find that I use them even more. 

Hope you find them helpful.

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Posted by on December 18, 2008 in Arabic Teaching Tips, Teaching Tips


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Arabic lesson outline

Alhamdulillah as I have mentioned before, our Arabic, at least for the younger ones is sailing, masha Allah. But even still, I felt that our sessions could be more productive so I made up a little outline for us to follow:



                                                Numbers 1-20 review  (15 minutes)

o        Recite and look 10x(write on board or look at chart)

o        Read random numbers

o        Write dictated numbers

o        Sequencing, what comes next, before, inbetween, series

Alphabet  (15minutes)

·         Recite and look 5x (standalone)

·         Read random letters (standalone/connected) – flashcards/game

·         Write dictated letters and two letters connected

·         Sequencing

Reading: (15 minutes)

·         Review questions: How many letters are there in the alphabet? How many short vowels are there?  Name them. Visually ID them on board or in a quick game.; write them as dictated. What does a sukoon mean? Write a sukoon.

·         Read from reader (or just use example words of the concept we are learning)

o        Do letter name, vowelling drill on some words in book

o        Read some blocks or lines

o        Have student choose from 4 blocks (or from words in a sentence), which one says what is dictated, point to it Who can find it the fastest?

·         Writing (15 minutes)

Practice connecting two letters


We more or less stick to the routine that I have laid out above. Some days we don’t accomplish everything, but it has helped me to not feel so frazzled when I sit down to teach.

Also, I have found that little games have emerged on their own without my planning. I had started to write (one at a time) a connected form of a letter on the board and the kids had to tell me the name of the l letter and its position (first, middle or end). Well, everyone was blurting out answers and the next thing I know we had a boys’ team and a girls’ team competing.  They had so much fun, masha Allah that they asked to keep going and when I told them we had to move on, they asked if we could play again tomorrow  So if you find that your lessons are dull, use board games (whiteboard or printable) to liven things up. And as I said, many times, games will just evolve on their own. 

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Posted by on November 24, 2008 in Arabic Teaching Tips, Teaching Tips


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