With barely a few weeks left, there's little time for us to prepare kids for Ramadan. Here are a couple of ideas to help make it special this year.
1. Hold a family meeting about Ramadan
A week before Ramadan, hold a family meeting to explain what Ramadan is, that the sighting of the moon indicates its beginning, what Muslims do and how the family's schedule will change. Also ask for suggestions of what everyone would like to do during the month. For instance, would they like to take a trip somewhere, eat a specific type of food, etc.
2. Welcome the month with balloons, banners and more
Say "Ramadan Mubarak" with the standard party fare: balloons, a great banner and decorations galore. Get the kids to help decorate the place and ask for their ideas and suggestions so they feel included.
3. Tell a Ramadan story during bedtime every night
Don't just rely on children's books about Ramadan to share stories. Describe what Ramadan was like when you were a kid. You can also make some tales up with your child as the main character in a Ramadan adventure!
4. Let them fast even a quarter of the day and celebrate
Kids often want to fast as they see their parents and older siblings do. This year, let them fast for a couple of hours. Prepare a special "Iftar" for them when they break fast with a couple of their favorite foods.
5. Make Ramadan loot bags for their class
Get their teacher's permission to make loot bags with Ramadan Mubarak written on them for the class. Fill it with candy, small toys and a little card explaining in two or three short sentences what Ramadan is. Have your child distribute the bags to their classmates.
6. Make a presentation about Ramadan in their class
See another article about how to do this.
7. Make Ramadan arts and crafts at home
Art is a great way to learn more about Ramadan. Have the kids make the different shapes of the moon and show which one indicates the beginning of the month, which one the middle and which one the end; make a collage of some of their favorite foods for Iftar; have them make special Ramadan placemats for the dinner table.
8. Make a family trip out of sighting the moon
Once the kids are dressed in their pajamas, herd them into the car and take them to where other Muslims in the city are gathering to sight the Ramadan moon. Do the same at the end of the month. Bring a telescope or binoculars.
9. Invite their friends over for a kids-only Iftar
Let your kids come up with the guest list and menu. Also, have them make some of the food. You can pick some kid-friendly recipes or they can help with preparing the parts of Iftar that don't require using a stove or cutting with knives.
10. Invite grandparents or elder community members over for Iftar
After everyone's eaten, hold a storytelling session where the guests describe what Ramadan was like when they were growing up. Ask them to be descriptive. How was Iftar time announced? In some countries, they use a drum. In other places a verbal announcement on a loudspeaker is made. What kind of food did they eat? What games did they play during Ramadan?
11. Make a scrapbook for this Ramadan
Take plenty of photos of everyone during Suhur (now that's entertaining!) and Iftar time, as well as while they are fasting and pieces of decorations used, interesting stickers, etc. to make a scrapbook about this Ramadan. Each child should bring three mementos he or she would like to include.
12. Remember the poor
Arrange with the kids to volunteer at a soup kitchen for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday. If possible, try to find one that has children as its clients so they see that not only adults, but kids like themselves also suffer from hunger.
13. Make and send homemade Ramadan cards
Before the month starts, have an arts and crafts session to make Ramadan Mubarak cards for siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Send the cards soon though, time's running out!
14. Play Ramadan songs
When the kids are playing or involved in some leisure activity, turn off the usual fare and put on some beautiful Ramadan songs in English and your own language if available. Maybe you can ask the kids to memorize one song by the end of Ramadan or compose one of their own.
15. Take them to Tarawih prayer so they feel they're part of a community
Nothing teaches community spirit like congregational prayer. Take the kids with you to the mosque for Tarawih prayer on Friday and Saturday nights when homework isn't an issue. Also, ask them to bring some of their allowance to give in charity while they're there.
Photo Attribution: Guillaume Paumier, https://guillaumepaumier.com/