Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Start a Masjid Toddlers Club!

I started a series on Instagram (you can follow me on Simply in Control) about starting a Masjid Toddlers Club. A couple of friends and I started one in Roswell Community Masjid in Atlanta, and I wanted to share the process so that other masjids can get an idea of how to start a toddlers club too! 


Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 1



Understand the Importance and Find your Team



As parents of toddlers, we are always on the lookout for activities that will interest them. We might find fun events at the library, mall, or at a fair, but something that's really lacking in our Muslim communities is having events at the masjid just for toddlers! We usually only cater to children 5+.


Time and time again toddlers are shushed at the masjid and mothers are told to keep their toddlers at home. We tend to forget that although these children are young, they still have feelings, and being stern with them will create an aversion to the masjid in their hearts. It's so important to create Love for Allah and the masjid from the very beginning, and taking them there will teach them etiquette from a young age.

Once you realize the significance of having events for toddlers, you need to realize that you can make a difference! Finding a couple of friends who will join your team will help you get a club started. When we started #rcmtoddlersclub back in January, the Executive Director of @roswellmasjid asked us if we were committed to this club for AT LEAST six consecutive months. If you find a hardworking and passionate team who will not back out easily you are good to go! We have 3 people in our core team and we handle all of the organizing for 40-50 toddlers a month. 




Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 2



Raising Funds



After you've found your team to work with and gotten permission from the Masjid to start this club, it's time to start collecting items for the toddlers! Keep in mind that this kind of club will be more in demand than you expect. We were expecting 15 or so toddlers and we have 40-50 sign up every session. Side note: 50 became too much for us to handle because of the noise level, so we cap at 40 every session now. We are blessed to have a large multipurpose hall at our local masjid because it works really well for these events.


Our masjid gave us $150 to start with almost a year ago, and we used that money to revamp our children's library and toy room, and also bought craft supplies for the first few sessions. The room is used during prayer times such as Jummuah or Taraweeh where children play under a babysitter's supervision.




A lot of the large toys we use during each club session are our own. You'll need to be ready to share items because funds can be tight if you don't charge parents for each session. I bring my own slide, parachute for nasheed time, and masjid blocks every session, and my friend brings a tunnel and beach balls. We don't want to charge parents for every session so that everyone can attend equally. The masjid should be welcoming to all backgrounds. So, we run entirely on donations.



Make it easy for people to donate. We have an online link in our registration forms so that they can donate while registering, and we also have a box at our events where they can drop in cash. This money is used solely for craft supplies. 


Our most effective donation method was creating an Amazon Wish List of books and toys for the club. Almost everyone has Amazon Prime these days, and they can donate an entire item at whatever cost price they can afford easily and the items arrive at the masjid. We got almost all of our Islamic books from the Amazon Wish List, and quite quickly! Just make sure a lot of people share it so it spreads widely. 


Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 3

Staying Organized



When you're hosting an event like a Toddlers Club, it's essential to plan everything out properly. Here are a few things that helps our team stay organized:




1) Make A Schedule: Before every session, I write up a detailed schedule of what we will be doing for each 10 minute segment for the hour. I write mine up in the notes section for every month in my @erincondren planner (message me for a discount!), but any notebook would work for this as well. This way, our event transitions smoothly and my team and I are not standing around wondering what we should do next. Swipe to see examples of a few of the sessions we've done so far. I also include my intro to the topic of the month and a list of items for my team and I to bring to the event. .



2) Delegate Tasks in Advance: Each team member should know what is expected of them in advance and should focus on that, otherwise if everyone does a little bit of everything, it can get messy. For example, I am in charge of writing up schedules, introducing the theme to the toddlers, buying craft supplies and explaining it to the parents with my display, communicating with volunteers, and also editing pictures for social media. My group members are in charge of emails, story books, the speaker system and projector screen at the masjid, library books being checked out, play time nasheeds and all of the registration information and table. Delegating tasks helps make things less overwhelming for one person and helps the club to run in a more organized manner.



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3) Create a WhatsApp Group for Volunteers: Volunteers play an essential role in any event, and Toddlers Club is no exception! Make it easy for them to understand the different roles available by creating a form on WhatsApp as shown in the last picture in this post. It's the fastest way for them to sign up and help out, thereby making the event more successful and less burdensome for the core team. .



Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 4



Keep them Interested!



The attention span of toddlers is very short, and they aren't able to sit and listen to the same topic for a long time. At #rcmtoddlersclub, we make sure to change up our activities every 7 minutes. Here's a look at how we spend the hour:




I introduce an Islamic topic for around 7 minutes, making sure that I'm speaking at the level of toddlers. My intros always have some kind of activity so that the kids are not only sitting and listening. For example, for Diversity, we compared how we all look different. For Ramadan, the kids sampled dates. For Eid, they hugged their moms while saying "Eid Mubarak". For Hajj, they listened to their dads recite "Labaik" after which the kids drank Zamzam. For SubhanAllah, they sampled colorful fruits. Bottom line: keep it interesting! Always make the parents involved in the activities as well since this is a great time for them to bond with their children.

After the introduction, both of my team members read 1 book each. They make sure to always keep each page interactive, as they ask questions and tell the kids to do actions shown in the pages. The kids love it and listen attentively! 

We then do some kind of action song to get the kids to stand up and start moving. Toddlers really enjoy repeating actions and it's a great way for them to learn to obey instructions. 

The children's favorite activity is Parachute play with nasheeds, and they love jumping up and down while the parents hold the parachute. I think this is a must need item if you're interested in starting a Toddlers Club! It's affordable on Amazon! I will link it below this post.


Finally, we end our sessions with a craft. I'll be going into more details on crafts in my next post iA, but for now I'll just mention that you should have a craft that the parents can get involved with since this IS a bonding activity, but it shouldn't be too hard that only the parents are doing it. Our toddlers spend around 15-20 minutes on crafts, followed by clean up time which we all try to do together. .


Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 5



Have Age Appropriate Islamic Crafts



In the final part to this series, we're going to be discussing all things craft! It's really important to consider a few things while coming up with craft ideas for the Masjid. The themes should ideally be Islamic because it's hard to find such crafts in places like day-care or the library. This will require some creativity because there aren't a lot of Islamic craft ideas online for 1-5 year olds. The crafts should be time consuming so that it isn't complete in 2 minutes. Also, it shouldn't be too difficult that only the parent is able to do the craft because that defeats the purpose. Here are some crafts we have done at #rcmtoddlersclub, swipe to see all of them:


1) Bismillah door hangers to be used for the toddler's bedroom so they say Bismillah before they enter. The kids decorated these with markers, glitter glue and stickers.



2) Allah is our Creator craft (inspired by A Crafty Arab) required a hand print, foam sticker flowers and crayons for the pot.






3) Ramadan craft was all about making Sadaqah (donation) jars. We decorated them using washi tape, star stickers and ribbons






4) Eid craft was simple because we had a big party with lots of fun activities. It was about decorating a plate with the Eid moon.


5) The Hajj craft was making a sheep with cotton, crayons and googly eyes. We also did a Mini Hajj session in this event.



6) Diversity theme had two crafts. The first was sponge painting with man shaped foam and we used various skin shades for paint. The second was about making a new friend and presenting them with a small gift of decorated popsicle sticks.



7) For the SubhanAllah theme we made Fall trees using bubble wrap as a form of sponge painting and also used crayons to color the SubhanAllah calligraphy. Our next sessions will be Alhumdulillah and Allahu Akbar iA :)


A sweet follower on Instagram, @minimalmuslimama, offered to help me make a checklist so that it's easy for you to see how to make a Toddlers Club in a glance:



To start a Toddlers Club, here are a few items I would recommend. They are quite reasonably priced on Amazon, so perhaps one member of the community can buy one item each and bring it every session (click to go to link):





 







That concludes my post on how to start a Masjid Toddlers Club! I hope you found it helpful and that it inspires you to start one in your own community! It's so important to make our children feel welcome to the masjid from the very beginning. Please share this post so that we can get The Masjid Toddlers Club Movement started! :)

Thanks for reading and don't forget to Follow Me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram for future posts!

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