Tag Archives: making learning fun

Technology in the Homeschool – Spelling Via Messenger?

My 11 year old is such a smart little guy, masha Allah, but not the studying/school type. So its hard to get him interested in studying.75px-Yahoo!_Messenger_logo

Lately though, he’s been doing better (better being relative here, lol) and though not perfect, he has been cooperating more. So I am  trying to be more accommodating.

Yesterday, I called him for spelling. To my surprise, he had a good attitude. He asked me could he type the words on the computer. My first instinct was to say no, get a pencil and paper, but since he was cooperating, I thought, why sour the punch?

But………………….. I was at my desk and he was way over on the other side of the room (ok, well it wasn’t that far) and I couldn’t see the words that he typed…….ok, he could have come closer but we had just fooled around earlier getting Yahoo Messenger on his computer so that popped into my head.

And boy what a winner that was!

So I IM’d him and called out the spelling word. He typed it in and sent it. Boy did he get a kick out of that (no writing!) and he said, you know, this can help my typing skills too!

If he misspelled a word, I typed it in correctly. I even had him type misspelled words several times in a row.

He didn’t want to stop when it was time to break for lunch!


Posted by on November 4, 2009 in Technology in Homeschooling


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Technology in the Homeschool: Making interactive learning activities

I’m re-running this post again as there was a problem with its formatting in the original post…………

As you can probably tell, I am a computer addict and love to use it/technology in our homeschool whenever I can because I think it makes learning more interesting (though I still like to use old fashioned methods such as drill because I personally believe it really works).

I’ve come across a few neat resources that I wanted to share for making interactive learning activities.
1. How To Create Interactive Learning Centres

This is similar to my article at EHow, How to Set Up A Kids’ Virtual Practice Center, except that instead of a web page, this uses PowerPoint.  Never thought of that.  This link has a quick slide show to show you how to create learning centers in PowerPoint, by creating links, that your student can click on to go to activities  on the net. Again, you can also make the links take your student to things stored locally on your computer (games, lessons, worksheets, etc).


I just found this one today and it looks pretty neat.  It’s free and you can make 17 different kind of learning activities (including games, quizzes, timelines, cycles, etc) for any subject using premade templates, you just fill in your content. You can make simple HTML pages for the activity or post to a blog, etc.

3. Creating interactive learning activities online using forms.

This uses Front Page to make the forms, but can be used, I bet, in other web authoring software as well. You can make quizzes, give student a short reading passage and have them respond by typing in the answer…..and more……………….

4. Hot Potatoes.

An old favorite of mine, which is now freeware, so you can share it online freely (you previously had to register and could only use online if you worked for a public educational institution).

“The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like.”

This is a really simple and handy one!


Do you have any great tools/ideas for using technology in the homeschool that you use or have heard of?  I’d love to hear them……………………………..

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Posted by on September 9, 2009 in Technology in Homeschooling


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Grammar Lesson: Showing Possession (& Making Learning Fun)

Whenever possible, make your lessons more personal and engaging by using examples that are personal to your student. 

We recently did a lesson on how to show possession (in writing). I added objects and people that were familiar to my students.


Showing Possession Lesson Plan

1.       Get an object that belongs to someone in your house (that is not in the room).

2.       Show it to student and say this ___________ belongs to ___________.



3.       Tell student that to say this belongs to _____________, we say ____________’s _______.



4.       On the board write  (name)           (object)


5.       Now, add “  ‘s   ” to the name above.  Say it (apostrophe s) while you point.

6.       Say: “To show that something belongs to someone, we add   ‘s    after their name. (When you say ‘s, write it at the same time on the board. Point out that the     is an “apostrophe.”

7.       Write the names of several friends or family members on the board. After each name, write the name of an object. Go back and add ‘s after each person’s name and say name’s object. (You may want to prepare this ahead of time so that you don’t have to think off the top of your head).

8.       “On your own” – Have student go around each person’s room in the house (if he/she has permission to) and find 1-3 objects that belong to that person.  Have student write  “name’s object, “ for each one.  Review student’s findings and make sure that ‘s has been used correctly.

9.       End by asking student how we show possession (that something belongs to someone)? Answer: We add apostrophe s to the end of the person’s name.


Not only have we made this lesson more personal, but we have made it more interesting, insha Allah, than a typical grammar textbook lesson. My kids liked getting up and going around looking for objects.  



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Posted by on January 12, 2009 in Grammar & Usage


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Ideas for making Arabic (or anything) stick..Use Repetition and make it fun..

A TJ visitor asked for some ideas for helping her son who attends Arabic class in weekend school. He was having trouble distinguishing between the tanweens. I brainstormed some ideas from things I have used in the past or have stumbled upon and want to try and thought I would post them here.  Although I had Arabic in mind when I compiled this list, many of these activities I have used for English as well.

 So here was my response:

Daily Review

This may be pretty obvious but I thought I would mention it. In addition to the class, do you sit down with him each day and practice the material learned? I find that my kids do much better when something is introduced and then I have them practice it daily (and then maybe weekly once its mastered) instead of just following the lesson in the book (or lessons I have prepared), its just usually not enough practice.

If I can, I like to try to drill after each pray to help remind me or set up a specific time (one or two) each day to review.


Review  can come in many forms, here are just a few  (I’ve tried to tailor most to the tanween problem you have mentioned but they can be adapted to probably any concept, Allahu ilm)


I use games very often to drill the material. Sometimes the kids have so much fun they forget they are learning/drilling. Some things I do include:


On my blog, I have several game boards for the short vowels.  Most of the time we just end up reading the words along the path instead of using markers to move, but I think this is more interesting then reading the exercises in the book.  So if he is having trouble with tanween, you might include words along a path that include tanween. (We are on sukoon right now, so insha Allah, I may soon have boards with tanween on my blog). Or you just might have the tanweens written along the path and he has to name them.

      The ladder/step game

      I think this is one of their absolute favorite games. I draw a ladder or steps and write words (or letters if we are doing alphabet or math facts for math, etc) on the steps. I draw a treat at the top (or put a real one there) and they must read the words to go up the stairs. I may make them go back down if they miss a word after correctly reading it for them (but it depends, some of the kids get frustrated if they have to keep starting over so I use this sparingly and according to the child). I usually do this on the whiteboard and then make several different sets of stairs with the words in different order.

      Instead of words, you can just put fathah tanweens, dammah tanweens, and kashrah tanweens on the steps as well and he can say the name or the sound of the endings.


Tic Tac Toe

      Write the endings in the tic tac toe spaces, he must name the ending to place a mark; or write words with the endings in the spaces.


1.      Place several cards of each of the endings. in a can.

2.      Place one or two cards with the word “Bang” on them in can with the other cards.

3.      Child picks out one card at a time and says the ending. If he reads the card correctly, he continues.  If he gets a “Bang” card, he must put al cards back and start over.

4.      Child wins when he has read all cards.

Note: for smaller children, I would only put 1 “Bang” card in the can.




Perhaps you can write the same word three times, but with fathah tanween one time, kashrah tanween one time and then dammah tanween the last time in a line (e.g kataabuun, kataabiin, kataabaan and then having him read the words. You point to the ending in each before he reads to draw visual attention to the ending he is about to pronounce. You might read the drill yourself first several times pointing to the ending and then have him read. After doing the drill with the same word, try a different word.

For trouble just distinguishing between the endings, you can do this drill with the endings written instead of the words. 



Make 3 paper tiles, one with kasrah tanween, one with dammah tanween, one with fathah tanween. You read the words with the ending and student must select one of the paper tiles with the ending that matches the ending you said. Or you can write a word without the endings and then say the word with the ending and he puts the correct paper tile on the end to match. You can make it more engaging by having him hold up the correct card instead of just pointing to/placing  it.

You can also do this dictation without the tiles by having him write the correct endings that are dictated or have him write the whole word with the ending.


 Or, write the same word three times with the different endings written, you say one of the words, he circles which one you said.


Good old flashcards.

Make a deck of flashcards based upon the concepts he is learning in class. Add a new flashcard as a new concept is introduced in class. So if he’s done fathah, kasrah, dammah, sukoon, fathah tanween, dammah tanween, and kasrah tanween so far, put cards with these symbols each on  its own card. Each day, go through the cards and have him give the name of each symbol and its sound (if applicable).  Give him a word (katabaan) or word part (ka) and tell him to name the vowels or the word ending.  Sometimes I make up games with the flashcards like hold the card in the air and slowly lower it and he has to answer what I’ve asked before the card reaches the ground.



Insha Allah the key is to just give him more practice with the concepts he is learning in class. As I said earlier, most of the time, I feel that the lessons in books do not provide enough practice typically so I try to find fun, simple, and varied activities to practice the concepts.  The ideas above can help reinforce concepts, insha Allah through the use of listening, speaking, reading and writing disguised in fun activities.





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Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Arabic Teaching Tips


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Making Learning Fun: Keepin’ It Real

Textbooks are great, but real life applications of concepts can help to cement concepts more deeply, insha Allah.

Language Arts


Instead of doing a grammar lesson from a book on nouns, introduce the concept (and you can use the book if necessary) then have student look around the room and list nouns that he/she sees in the room. Have student categorize these into people and things.

Have student list as many nouns that are places in 30 seconds (or a minute or whatever). “Compete” withyour child to see who can come up with more and this can make for a fun activity, my kids love it. You can limit it to nouns in the room or nouns in the ocean, etc.


Have student pick three objects and describe each one. Write these words on the whiteboard/paper. Tell student that these words describe nouns and are called adjectives. Have student write a sentence about each object using the adjectives he came up with.


Have student watch a sporting video or another video that features lots of action. Tell him/her to come up with words to describe what is going on (dribbling, running, tackling, etc), and tell that these words are verbs.


For older students, let them practice their proofreading skills for a purpose. Project Gutenberg has a Distributed Proofreaders program. They need help proofreading their texts and getting them ready for the web:

Description from the site:

“Distributed Proofreaders provides a web-based method to ease the conversion of Public Domain books into e-books. By dividing the workload into individual pages, many volunteers can work on a book at the same time, which significantly speeds up the creation process.

During proofreading, volunteers are presented with a scanned page image and the corresponding OCR text on a single web page. This allows the text to be easily compared to the image, proofread, and sent back to the site.

Proofread as often or as seldom as you like, and as many or as few pages as you like. We encourage people to do ‘a page a day’, but it’s entirely up to you!”

Once all the pages have completed these steps, a post-processor carefully assembles them into an e-book, optionally makes it available to interested parties for ‘smooth reading’, and submits it to the Project Gutenberg archive.”

To sign up, go to:


  • Use menus from your favorite restaurants and order a meal and have student add up the prices.
  • Have student add up the prices on your grocery list so you can budget.
  •  Have student survey how many of certain items there are around the house and graph. Have student survey family members of their likes/dislikes and graph.
  • Have student walk around the house and find numbers to round to the nearest 10 (look on food packages, in books, sales papers.
  • Have student write down sports scores from games and find the difference between the winning and losing scores.
  • Got tiles in your bathroom? Use multiplication to see how many tiles there are or how many cookies on a cookie sheet of cookies you are making, etc.
  • Use coupons to practice subtracion

Take the Class Outside

Sit outside of your study area and have class.

Take a walk and do class. Have student names the nouns he/she sees.

For math, count the cars that pass. Take a sheet of paper to record the colors of cars that pass and then later graph that data…….


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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Making Learning Fun


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Time to Switch Gears?

Getting frustrated (you or your child) with the current concept/topic you are working on from your textbook or purchased curriculum?

Maybe its time to take a break and move onto something else.

Unless you are in a program that requires accountability to an outside entity, just stop!

Move onto something else in the book.  Of course some topics, say in a math book, build upon one another so you have can’t totally jump around in the book, but if the current topic is causing you to butt heads with your child, make him (or you) cry or want to tear your hair out, move onto something else. 

My 10 year old is just not a textbook person, but we use a textbook for math.  Its hard to get him to sit down and do something. Then add to that a difficult to grasp concept and you can just about forget getting anything accomplished.

My 13 year old daughter sat down with him seemingly out of of the blue showed him how to add fractions with the same denominator.  I had pages of those types of problems lying around (they were his older brother’s) and HE asked me if he could do the page. Now of course I was NOT going to say no.  So today, I asked him if he wanted to do fractions and he said YES! Alhamdulillah. So although with some distractions and periodically running out of the room (by him, not me) we got through two lessons. 

So the trick is to find something interesting. Now of course we have to go back and cover the materials that we veered away from, but instead of just letting days, weeks, months, go by, without doing anything, or doing very little, we are still on track, but just not the preprogrammed track of the book.

And that’s ok, at least there is still learning going on.  Just because the writers of the textbook put it in THAT order, doesn’t mean its the only correct order……


And of course if you just have to follow the program as prescribed, look for ways to bring the real world or just plain fun into them…..check earlier and future  Making Learning Fun posts for ideas, insha Allah

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Posted by on September 23, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Making learning fun III – Put down the pencil and paper

If you have kids that shudder at doing worksheets or problems from a textbook or you just want to give them a change, put down the pencil and paper and:

  • Do boardwork
    • To help keep easily distracted kids’ attention, do one problem at a time with student. Talk about the answer. Kids seem to love writing with chalk and whiteboard markers.
  • Do oral work
    • I have found that my two older boys (who are not textbook types) like to do the work orally with me so when I sense battles brewing, I do the work orally with them.
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Posted by on September 15, 2008 in Making Learning Fun


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