Learning about the Universe

As I mentioned in my previous post, the topic that we explored after plants was ‘The Universe’. After having completed all the plant activities S chose the chapter about Solar System from his book. I asked him to read the first two pages of the text, highlight any thing that seemed important to him and underline the words and sentences that he did not understand.

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He highlighted ‘There are many, many solar systems in the universe’ and commented that this was new information for him. He did not know the meaning of the universe, so we began to discuss. Our discussion began from the sun and the planets and went on to the vastness of the universe. This suddenly reminded me of a book that I had recently purchased from the book fair and hadn’t had the chance to read it. It was fun!

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At this point we talked about the Might and Power of Allah, that He created it all and He is the Biggest and the Greatest. A few lines about Allah would have been a great conclusion for this book, but alas…

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Afterwards, we read about the planets. He was greatly disappointed by the fact that the planets were now eight and not nine. He did not like the idea of demoting Pluto and insisted that we consider it a planet. We read about why it was not considered a planet anymore from different websites. This is his picture of the solar system (unlabelled and uncoloured despite my requests).

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Then we were talking about Space travel and how little we know about the universe. I related the story of Isra and Mai’raj to him. My favourite comment from his was, “Oh then Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam must have seen all the planets! He must have said ‘there is Jupiter and that is Mars!'”. I had to then explain to him that these planets were named such afterwards and that yes he may have seen them and he may have not. The speed of the Burraq made him all wondrous!

In the week that followed we read more about the space and meteors and comets and stars and planets.

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We also did the Spaceship Earth mysteries from mystery science which were very interesting. The questions that we explored were ‘Why does the sun rise and set?’,’Who set the first clock? (the activity with this mystery is very interesting. We get to make our own shadow clock! I also showed him some really marvelous clocks made by earlier Muslims, like the elephant clock and other time keeping devices. We also discussed how we can determine the time for different prayers by looking at the shadow), ‘Why do the stars change with the season?’ (discussing in between the ayahs about stars and how Allah created them for navigation (Surah Al-An’am 6, Verse 97)), ‘How can the sun tell you the season?’, ‘Why does the moon change shape?’ and ‘What are the wandering stars?

This was just an official learning about the space and the universe. Otherwise, we have always loved observing the sky and discussing it. At first it was just the moon and planets, and now we try to figure out the different constellations and locate different stars and planets using the Sky Map App.

Lastly and luckily, S also got the chance to view the full moon through a telescope!

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Alhumdulillah! The universe is so fun to learn about and it does increase your faith when you ponder over it!

All About Plants

S (My Mo’min Insha Allah) loves science. He chooses what he wants to learn about (the perks of homeschooling!), and takes a lot of interest in it. First it was the human body, next he became obsessed with the weather and then last month it was plants (currently it is the solar system, am going to post about that soon Insha Allah).

We began by reading about the topic. Mainly, we use two text books that we bought from a local bookstore. After discussing and reading all about plants I did a comparison activity with him, primarily to make him write something. He hates writing! But he did enjoy this, especially because he wanted to make drawings for each. We also visited the park in the evening to collect leaves from the different types of plants.

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(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them)

The best science resource that I use these days is Mystery Science. In the following days we solved the Plant Adventures mysteries from that website. There were practical, interesting and simple lessons accompanied with hands-on activities that provided a great learning experience. We did them all but because we weren’t able to take care of our seedlings properly most of our projects failed.One of the successful ones was the root viewer activity which shows how roots always grow towards the bottom. The original activity used CD cases and radish seeds but since we did not have those we used beans and cassette covers.

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After 3/4 weeks

A variation of the same activity can be found here.

As children we rote learned how ‘plants need water, sunlight and soil to grow’ but through these mysteries it was like actually seeing and experiencing this. No, I’m not being paid to write this. I just wish to share something beneficial with all. And the best thing about it is that it’s free (at least for this year) and you can sign up too. Just hop over to  http://www.mysteryscience.com. Even I myself have learnt a lot from it.

We also read about the different kinds of food that we obtain from plants and S made a poster to demonstrate.

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And we also read an Urdu reader that went along with our plant theme. It is from Nahal series published by Flowers of Islam. S struggles with Urdu reading but Alhumdulillah he finds this one easy.

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Later, when he went to Karachi in vacations he planted a few seeds there, watered them regularly and some did sprout! Here they are:

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