Arabic Resources by Gambian Mommy (Review + Interview!)
In the world of homeschooling or even just parenting, who doesn’t love great resources that are interactive, colourful and make learning fun for our kids? In the Muslim Homeschooling World (or not), many of us may decide to teach our children Arabic, whether as a language or in order to read the Qur’an. You may have heard me talk about Gambian Mommy resources for a while now in my Tuesday Teaching Tips series on Arabic language learning with Yomna from @happyhomelearning. I highly recommend them. I wanted to interview and get insight into the Gambian Mommy I have got to know over the years. Her passion for teaching Arabic to her daughter and creating Arabic resources for non-native Arabs like myself is just inspiring. So I wanted Gambian Mommy herself to give you all an insight into her resources and next steps for Arabic Series III. Here’s what Gambian Mommy had to say when I asked her the following questions:
Tell us a bit about yourself, who is Gambian Mommy?
Asalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh ! My name is Catherine Ngaima Sesay from the Gambia! It’s the tiniest country on mainland Africa, and fondly called the Smiling Coast of Africa and for good reason too! Gambians are known to be super hospitable and among the friendliest people you’ll ever meet (not sure if I meet that criteria thought lol)! I’m a mommy of two rambunctious cuties 5 and 2 and loving every second of mommy life (even when I wanna pull my hair out). I reverted to Islam in 2010 in Taiwan alhamdullillah and I’ve been enjoying the journey, trials and all! I am the owner and founder of Gambian Mommy, my crazy attempt at learning the beautiful language of the Quran, Arabic! Gambian Mommy was born out of my love for the Arabic Language and a desperate need to provide fun Arabic resources for my kids along our homeschool journey .
Take us back to when you first started creating your resources. What inspired you to start?
1. Loving Arabic and wanting my kids to have that same love if not more by having fun resources to learn with
2. Frustration at not being able to find resources that I thought were both fun and engaging and offering some continuity to teach a comprehensive Arabic curriculum
3. I am an absolute failure when it comes to learning languages so I was secretly hoping that the constant pressure to produce teaching resources to keep up with our homeschool curriculum will keep me on my toes and have me constantly interacting with the language at some level (since we have no one to speak it with) Sooooo I made the first set, called it the Arabic Alphabet Series I, it looked, so good ! I was like, I have to put this out there. Maybe others might like it too.. and that’s how it actually started. I never really planned on making resources to sell when I started creating them.
What resource do you find your child enjoys the most?
Currently the picture dictionary! I think because it allows for a wide range of activities to be used with it! It can be used by itself or together with other activities in the Series or even outside the Series, such as when we read other Arabic books for example…
Which is your own favourite resource you have created so far?
Hmmm, that’s a hard one, it keeps changing especially when we do an activity and I see how much she enjoys it and how much I enjoy it too! I think I have favorite-s, that is, not just one but a couple (if not all lol)! My current faves include the Arabic Letter Forms Letter Wheels and Build a Word and from the first series Arabic Alphabet Color by Word (newly added) and Sound Wheels (also a new addition), and Letter Puzzles, oh and Arabic Alphabet Dot Pages (I have a feeling I’m leaving some out but that should do for now… )
What is your vision in teaching Arabic to your child?
I’d love for her (and all my kids) to love and have a personal connection with the language! I am hoping she will become fluent in the language and if not, at least the love I have instilled in her for the language will cause her to yearn to be fluent and more conversant with the language, that way, when she reads the Qur’an she will not find it difficult, but will enjoy it and have a thirst for it!
Can you give more insight into the resource packets you have created?
I try to create resources by focusing on skills that are important in learning the language, my resources are always created based on research. So for example the first series, Arabic Alphabet Series Iincludes the following skills necessary for first exposure, skills that are important to learn from the get go.
1. Letter formation: these packets focus on learning how each letter is formed in non-traditional ways, it includes a lot of hands on activities and can be used in sensory or art play.
2. Handwriting: next stop is handwriting, following learning letter formation, naturally the next stop is handwriting.
3. Letter recognition: by this stage learners should be able to recognize their letters among a group of letters.
4. Beginning Sounds: and of course these packets focus on phonics, an essential skill in learning to read, especially learning to read Arabic which is a phonetic language!
The second series, Arabic Alphabet Series II which teaches the contextual nature of the Arabic letters has the following skill sets:
1. Visual teaching aids: makes teaching a breeze when there’s a source of reference for you and your kids to refer to whiles explaining how the letters change based on their position! My absolute favorite is the Hound Charts as each section highlights what the letter looks like as it moves from beginning to ending.
2. Phonemic awareness: one of those skills that you can’t miss teaching out on! I taught my kid phonemic awareness in our English Language lessons and she picked up on phonics and reading super fast Allahuma barik lahu! So I had to add that here! In case you are wondering what phonemic awareness is, it is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds and that is why the resources in these set contain only images for kids to listen for and identify where the sounds are in a word!
3. Phonics: being able to link letter sounds to their written forms is another important aspect of reading so I added a couple of resources to deal with that
4. Recognition/Recall: What does a letter look like in the beginning of a word? What about the middle and ending? One of my faves in this skill set is the Flap Books, the words are not connected and are written in there isolated form, so little learners will have to recall what they have learnt and write the word out correctly using the correct letter forms! I absolutely love this packet (and yes I should have added it to my faves)
5. Beginning Reading: contains some of my favorite resources and if you are teaching harakat (short vowels), you can add these to your lessons.
6. Writing: a language pack is not complete without handwriting/writing as writing plays a vital role in helping kids be better at reading… so if we want our kids to be better at reading the Quran we cannot teach the Arabic language sans handwriting and a lot of the time that is the mistake we make as we assume we are only going to read the Qur’an and not write it, but fact of the matter is kids learn to write better by reading and learn to read better by writing so phonics cannot and should not be taught in isolation.
Where are you moving to next in your Arabic resources series?
I am currently working on the Arabic Alphabet Series III, the third and final series in the Arabic Alphabet Series inshaaAllah. It will focus on learning those special letters/sounds that are not part of the 28 letters of the Arabic Alphabet such as taa marboota, alif maqsoora, laaa-alif, hamza (other forms), alif (is no longer included in Series I & II as it does not occur at the beginning of a word) etc.
Letters that we see a lot of in the Quran but are not taught these letters usually and learning and knowing their sounds are also absolutely vital in learning to read the Quran
Here’s a sneak peak of what’s inside the Taa Marboota Pack! (Cover page, All About Taa Poster and Taa Sentence Puzzles which is used together with a sound card to differentiate the fact that taa marboota has two sounds)
How can anyone access your resources?
Here’s the link to my TpT store: GambianMommy Tpt store. I am currently having a BOGOF (Buy One Get One free on any resource, including bundles, of equal or lesser value) for the month of Ramadan!
So there you have a fab range of Arabic resources aimed at those teaching and learning Arabic as a second language.
For more on our own Arabic Teaching Tips series click here.
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