Apr 252015
 
 April 25, 2015  activities, Ridvan Comments Off on Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan

This post was originally posted as part of the Walking Through the Garden of Ridván series and is reprinted here with permission from the author, Chelsea Lee Smith.

Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá!”, Bahá’u’lláh has written, “as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful! Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All- Knowing, the All-Wise. Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon the Revealer of His undoubted proofs that His pen can move no longer.

Wow what a special time this is. Truly 12 days of heavenly joy… and there are so many ways to celebrate and share the happiness!

Here are five things we have done during Ridván which we have found to be lots of fun and very uplifting:

Spending time with friends

Some moms in our community got together this year for a Ridván picnic at a playground – the kids played and we all shared snacks and each other’s company. We also had a short “program” – we sang a prayer together, had a little game, and did a craft activity (making a collage of rose pictures – cut out from an old calendar – along with the quotation: “Associate with each other, think of each other, and be like a rose garden.” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá). What better way to celebrate than spending time with those you love?

Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan | Alldonemonkey.com

Sharing special treats

At our community’s gathering this year which was also a casual picnic in a park (luckily on a different day – so great there are 12 days of Ridván!), I set up a cookie-decorating station for the kids. I brought a tray, a batch of bakery cookies (from a grocery store), a tin of icing, some candies and sprinkles, and a set of colored icing tubes. Yes I know, not healthy at all, but in a pinch and because I really didn’t feel I could muster the energy to do it all homemade… I thought on a special occasion this would be fine 🙂 So the kids enjoyed making cookies for themselves and for the rest of the community… it was so sweet to see how hard they worked and how proud they were when they could give the cookies away.

Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan | Alldonemonkey.com

Going on a treasure hunt

Last year during our children’s program we had a treasure hunt for “rose chocolates” and told the children that the candies would remind them about how sweet our love is for Bahá’u’lláh. It would also be neat to hide roses or rose petals – maybe attached to a quotation or portion of the Ridván story, for older children? 🙂

 

Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan | Alldonemonkey.com

Making a garden

Because it’s so lovely to think about being in a garden, we have included gardening in our Ridván activities each year. This year I splurged a bit and bought some little plant kits for the boys as one of their daily activities… I appreciated getting something where it was all ready for me since I have yet to tap into any gardening side of myself 🙂 We carefully read and followed the instructions, and already one pot (the sunflower) is starting to sprout! The boys REALLY enjoyed this and I think it also makes the “garden” aspect of the Ridván story a lot more hands-on and tangible, not to mention memorable.

Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan | Alldonemonkey.com

Gifts of love

Last year for our children’s program I also made some little gifts for the kids and parents, kind of like a “party favor.” Honestly I’m not exactly sure what the recipients thought (although everyone was of course very thankful!), but I found I actually got a whole lot out of the experience because, while making the crayons and bookmarks, I was pouring my love for Baha’u’llah into every one. As the kids get older, I’d love to give them the chance to think of some ways they could “gift” other people – maybe with crafts, baked goods, or services – during the Ridvan period, to allow them to express creatively the love and gratitude stirring within.

There are so, so many ways to feel joy and create joyful experiences for our children during these 12 glorious days… and they don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Simply going on a nature walk to marvel at God’s creation would do the trick. In fact, we may do that tomorrow. 🙂

Tapping into the Joy of Ridvan | Alldonemonkey.com

If you have any ways you have enjoyed celebrating Ridván and making the time especially joyful for your children, please share in the comments!

Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan 2013This post is part of the Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan series, where members of Baha’i Mom Blogs are sharing ideas for celebrating Ridvan during all 12 days.

Follow along by visiting this page!

Apr 212015
 
 April 21, 2015  activities, music, Ridvan Comments Off on Celebrating the Festival of Ridvan with Music

This post was originally posted as part of the Walking Through the Garden of Ridván series and is reprinted here with permission from the author, Chelsea Lee Smith.

Ridván has come again and we are having fun celebrating each day with a little activity.

As we have been doing for the past three years, each day of Ridván the children receive a little note sharing a Ridvan related thought of the day (based on a quotation) with an activity to help discuss it. This year I’ve been putting the notes in our “homeschooling mail box” for them to open each morning after prayers.

Celebrating the Festival of Ridvan with Music | Alldonemonkey.com

Two of our activities so far have been based on music. Music is such a lovely way to introduce ideas to children, and listening in and participating in music-making can really uplift everyone’s spirit as well.

On the first day we attended our community’s Ridvan picnic, and shared a special song about Ridvan written and sung by Diana Howlett called “This is the Day.” The song is based on the three quotes below and you can find out more about the CD and even download the lyrics and sheet music on this page:

Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 10)

This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God’s mercy hath been manifested unto men…” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 7)

This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favours have been poured out upon men…” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 121)

Today our activity was singing the ever-famous song “Garden of Ridván” (to hear and watch a video, plus find the lyrics, visit this page). I also made it into a game by asking the boys to stand up and clap each time they heard the word “garden.” It was a lot of silly fun and I was reminded again how much children love to play and have fun with even the simplest of “games.”

Celebrating the Festival of Ridvan with Music | Alldonemonkey.com

So there are two songs we know for celebrating Ridván – do you know of any others?? Please share in the comments below!

Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan 2013This post is part of the Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan series, where members of Baha’i Mom Blogs are sharing ideas for celebrating Ridvan during all 12 days.

Follow along by visiting this page!

Mar 182015
 

Spring Treasure Hunt {Naw-Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

To celebrate the coming arrival of spring, here is a fun spring treasure hunt you can do with your kids.  Specifically, I created it as a fun activity to celebrate the Bahá’í holiday Naw-Rúz, which falls on the first day of spring.  In the past I have focused mainly on flower crafts (tulips, daffodils, and poppies, oh my!), so this year I decided to do an activity instead.

I also wanted something that I could use as part of our home schooling, as a fun way for Monkey to use some of the concepts he’s been learning.  And who doesn’t love a treasure hunt??

To do this, I came up with 6 challenges for him to complete.  After each one, he’ll receive a clue to a final riddle, where he has to guess what word the clues are describing.  Once he solves that, he’ll get a treasure map leading to some treats!  (A variation on this would be to cut the treasure map into puzzle pieces and give the child one piece after completing each challenge).

Spring Treasure Hunt

Download a printable of all of the clues at the end of this post.

Challenge #1: Life Cycle of a Seed (Biology, Sequencing)

For this, I will cut out images of the life cycle of a seed (such as those here), mix them up, and have Monkey put them in order.

Clue #1: Has 6 letters

Challenge #2: Spring True/False (Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Science)

This challenge involves several simple true/false questions about spring and Bahá’í Naw-Rúz.  Download your copy by right-clicking on the image below:

Spring Treasure Hunt {Naw Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

Clue #2: Contains the letter “R”

Challenge #3: Make a flower or tree out of Legos (Art, Engineering)

You can always vary the materials for this challenge – play dough or popsicle sticks, for example.

Clue #3: Rhymes with “king”

Challenge #4: Addition/Subtraction Questions (Math)

Obviously, you can vary this according to the ability of your child.  Monkey is learning basic addition and subtract, greater than or equal to, so that is what I focused on in my questions.

Clue #4: Starts in the month of March

Challenge #5: Acrostic Poem Poster (Language Arts, Art)

We will do a simple form of acrostic poetry, in which each letter of the main word is the beginning of a new line in the poem.  Bahá’ís could use the word “Naw-Ruz,” and others could do “Spring” or “Flower.”  After creating the poem on a sheet of poster board, we will decorate it to hang on the wall.

Clue #5: Starts with “S”

Challenge #6: Missing Words (Language Arts, Critical Thinking)

For this challenge, I took a line from this beautiful Bahá’í prayer that draws on the imagery of a seed:

I am, O my God, but a tiny seed which Thou hast sown in the soil of Thy love, and caused to spring forth by the hand of Thy bounty. – Bahá’u’lláh

I wrote it on a piece of paper, leaving out key words.  I then wrote these missing words on slips of paper.  Monkey will have the complete prayer to refer to, and have to determine which word goes in each space.

Clue #6: Comes after winter

Download your copy of all the clues by right-clicking and saving the image below:

Spring Scavenger Hunt {Naw-Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

Now that you have all six clues, did you guess what the answer is??

If Monkey guesses correctly (“Spring”!) then I’ll give him a treasure map, leading him straight to the spot in the house where I’ve hidden some treats.  A sweet way to end the lesson, indeed!

Happy Naw-Rúz, everyone!

Feb 182015
 
 February 18, 2015  Ayyam-i-Ha 12 Responses »

Ayyam-i-Ha Giveaway 2015

It’s that time of year again, and I am thrilled to partner with Creative World of Varya bring you this wonderful Ayyam-i-Ha giveaway!  We are so pleased to be able to offer you 3 fabulous prize packages – each including a copy of our book!

Simply enter below for a chance to win!  And you can stay tuned for an extra surprise later this week on our Children’s Book Facebook page!

For more Ayyám-i-Há fun, be sure to check out the Ayyám-i-Há Fun Book we wrote together, as well as my Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide!

 

Ayyam-i-Ha Giveaway 2015

1st Prize Package

Our Ayyám-i-Há Fun Book
Digital album Glimmerings from Elika Mahony
Meditation Garland for the Fast/ Countdown for Naw Rúz from Delightful Design, LLC
$20 gift certificate for Honey’s Quilling/Honey’s Hive: may be used for EITHER Etsy shop OR Zibbet shop
1 set of Love All the World cards, plus 12 stickers & 24 tattoos from Tender Sapling US shipping only (In the event this prize is won by someone outside the US, this portion of the prize will be added to a lower prize package until a US winner is selected).

Ayyam-i-Ha Giveaway 2015

2nd Prize Package

Our Ayyám-i-Há Fun Book
Digital album Birds of Love from Elika Mahony
Digital copies of a prayer and quotation Ayyám-i-Há set to music from Enable Me to Grow
1 Kindle book of Marie’s Atlas from Sophia Wood

Ayyam-i-Ha Giveaway 2015

3rd Prize Package

Our Ayyám-i-Há Fun Book
Digital album Fire and Gold from Elika Mahony
1 Kindle book of The Night Before Ayyám-i-Há from Sophia Wood

Enter our giveaway to win one of these fabulous prize packages!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 132015
 
 February 13, 2015  Ayyam-i-Ha 3 Responses »

Creating a Festive Home {Delightful Design} | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary products from Delightful Design LLC; however, all opinions are my own.

One of the delights of having children is getting to celebrate holidays with them.  It is enchanting to see the world through their eyes as they experience the magic of special days, and it is so fun to be a part of making that magic happen.

However, as a member of a minority religion (the Bahá’í Faith), that loving duty to create a festive home for our holidays weighs on me a bit more heavily.  My children are aware that though we honor the holidays of other religions, we don’t celebrate them in the same way.  To a child, of course, the most critical (and troublesome) aspects of this are that we have no Christmas tree in December, no Santa coming down the chimney to deliver gifts.

Instead, we try to ramp up the excitement for our holidays, such as Ridván and Náw Rúz in the spring, and, at the end of February, every Bahá’í child’s favorite: our gift-giving time, Ayyám-i-Há.  Ayyám-i-Há is especially fun for children.  We have parties, do acts of service, play games, make crafts, and give gifts – truly a joyous time.

Still, when you’re the only family on your street celebrating (or the only kid in your class), for a child it can sometimes feel like the celebration is a bit thin.

So we do our best to make up the difference by making it as festive a time as possible.  I have already strung up our countdown chain, and every morning during Ayyám-i-Há I’ll fill their little star stockings with treats, in addition to wrapping a few larger presents to open in the evening.

But what really signals that we are in a holiday season is hanging up decorations.

If you are thinking that all this sounds like a lot of work – you’re right!  And if you’re wondering where a mother of two small children – who also blogs and home schools – finds time to do this, I’d tell you the truth, which is that most of the time I don’t.  My dear sister gave us wonderful handmade flower chains that I hang every year, but otherwise I don’t do anything else in the way of decorating.

Until this year.

Creating a Festive Home {Delightful Design} | Alldonemonkey.com

Last month Melissa of Delightful Design LLC (see their listing in the Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide!) was kind enough to send me complimentary decorations from her amazing Etsy shop.  They are so beautiful and fun!  And – importantly for me – so EASY to put together!

Delightful Design carries everything from garlands to posters to interactive calendars for kids (in English and Spanish!) – all specially designed for Bahá’í holidays.  As someone who grew up without any such items available for sale, I am amazed and grateful to have such creative, enterprising people out there!

Creating a Festive Home {Delightful Design} | Alldonemonkey.com

And did I mention how EASY the decorations are to do?  Each product comes with a set of easy to follow instructions, which consist of only a few simple steps.  For example, with the banner (pictured here), all I had to do was print, cut, and string it up with some ribbon!

So be sure to check out this wonderful company!  But be warned – you will have trouble choosing from all their super cool products, each made in numerous beautiful variations.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

How do you make your home festive for special holidays?

Jan 282015
 
 January 28, 2015  Ayyam-i-Ha, Book Reviews, household, Kid Fun Comments Off on Ayyam-i-Ha Gift Guide: Updated!

Ayyam-i-Ha Gift Guide 2013 - Alldonemonkey.com

I am proud to announce that my Ayyam-i-Ha Gift Guide has now been updated!  Stop by to discover wonderful businesses with unique products, plus family service project ideas and tutorials for homemade crafts!

And don’t miss our Ayyám-i-Há fun book, on sale now!

Ayyam-i-Ha: Fun Ideas for Children and Families

Ayyám-i-Há: Fun Ideas for Children and Families

An e-book is full of crafts, recipes, printable activities, and jokes to celebrate Ayyám-i-Há!

Nov 072014
 

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

One of my favorite crafts that I have done with Monkey was the bell craft we did several years ago for the Bahá’í holy day Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.  It was partially based on the Bahá’í children’s song celebrating this holiday, which mentions ringing bells and playing trumpets to mark the joyous occasion.

So this year I decided we should do a trumpet craft!

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

You’ll Need:

Cardboard tube (we used a paper towel roll)

Poster board

Paints, stickers, etc

Tape

The boys are always using empty cardboard rolls as horns, so it seemed natural to start with that as the foundation.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

Little Monkey was hesitant at first but soon had a lot of fun using finger paints to decorate his.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

I cut a cone our of poster board and let him decorate that as well.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

After the paint had dried, I closed the cone with tape and attached it to the cardboard roll.  The main problem I had was getting some good photos of the finished product, as they had trouble holding still – it’s a fun toy to move with!

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} - Alldonemonkey.com

Happy Birth of Bahá’u’lláh to those celebrating next week!

Oct 172014
 

Character Building Game for Kids {Birth of the Bab} | Alldonemonkey.com

Here is a simple but fun game to reinforce virtues like kindness and generosity.  For the past year I have been helping teach character-building classes for Monkey and several friends.  I wanted a fun way to review the lessons we had already learned, and I know from experience that this group of 4 and 5 year olds learns best by doing. 

So here is a “gate” game, inspired by the upcoming Bahá’í holiday the Birth of the Báb.  I wanted to reinforce the symbolism of the Báb as the Gate for Bahá’u’lláh, but it’s a fun activity for kids of any background, since who doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper for their friends??

Character Building Game: How to Play

One child stands at the front with his/her hands out to the sides, like a gate (in a doorway if possible!)  Then s/he gives clues (either verbally or with charades) about a particular virtue, like generosity or patience.  (For young children, an adult or older child can help).  The other children try to correctly guess the virtue in order to be allowed through the “gate.”  The first through the gate becomes the new gatekeeper.

Character Building Game for Kids {Birth of the Bab} | Alldonemonkey.com

For older children, you could make the game more challenging by not allowing them to use common words as clues for particular virtues.  So for “patience,” for example, you might forbid the gatekeeper to say “waiting” or “time.”  You could also challenge the other children to recite a piece of Scripture about that virtue in order to get through the gate.

For Bahá’ís, you could have the gatekeeper give clues about people from Bahá’í history, like Martha Root or Tahirih!

Happy Birth of the Báb to those celebrating!

Jul 272014
 
 July 27, 2014  The Fast Comments Off on My First Fast: A Baha’i Perspective | Interfaith Ramadan Series

My First Fast: A Baha'i Perspective | #InterfaithRamadan

Lost in the noise of media hype and extremists of every stripe is the undeniable fact that there are many commonalities among the religions of the world.  In recognition of this truth, my friend Sarah from Hotchpotch Hijabi in Italy has created a wonderful Interfaith Ramadan series, as a way to bring together people of faith, despite our differences.

I am proud to be a part of such an amazing endeavor with this essay on when I first participated in the Bahá’í Fast as a teenager.  Be prepared for some teenage melodrama mixed in with a touch of enlightenment:

My First Fast: A Bahá’í Perspective | Interfaith Ramadan

Apr 302014
 
 April 30, 2014  recipes, Ridvan 6 Responses »

Rose Cookies {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

It’s hard to believe that Ridván is almost over!  We have enjoyed our new decorations this year and as always have fun saying prayers and hanging out in our Ridván tent.

Today we are meeting some friends for a picnic in a local rose garden (yes, we are going crazy for roses!), so I wanted to make a special treat.

I fell in love with these adorable Easter egg sugar cookies I saw on Pinterest and was inspired to adapt her recipe to make – you guessed it! – rose cookies.  I was so happy with how they came out, in terms of looks and taste, and my Monkey tester approved as well!  (Little Monkey was more interested in smashing it to bits in his high chair, but perhaps I offered it too close to his nap time!)

These are super easy to make, and you will feel like a rock star!

Rose Cookies {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

Follow her easy recipe (I followed a suggestion from ALLterNATIVE learning and substituted coconut oil for some of the butter – it added a wonderfully light coconut flavor!), but make your coils shorter and pinch the tops to make a gentle peak.  Coil them into circles to make the rose shapes – easy and so pretty!

Bake as per her instructions, let cool, and enjoy!

Rose Cookies {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

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