Wet felting acorns are the perfect autumn handicraft for your Muslim homeschool.

Handicrafts in your Muslim Homeschool

by Eaman Elhadri

I had a strange dream about the letter R. It was chasing me.

The night before I was stressing about our homeschool and three R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic (which don’t all start with R; scratches head), because, you know, I must be ruining my child!

via GIPHY

That morning I brewed a (very) strong cup of coffee and was feeling down. Is homeschooling wrong for my child because he seems…bored?

That was a young Eaman. I went through a phase where I thought I needed to ignore everything and just focus on the 3 R’s. Boy was I…young. 🙂

Watch the LIVE video of me chatting about homeschool handicrafts!

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Then it finally occurred to me that I was missing balance when it came to our homeschool.

That is not to say that the 3 R’s aren’t important, but I gave it so much importance that I forgot about relationships and other aspects of life that create a real education, such as handicrafts.

Pin this blog post so that you can refer to it later!

Benefits to introducing handicrafts in your homeschool, plus 36 handicraft ideas!

What are handicrafts?

The definition of handicraft is as follows:

A manual skill.
An art, craft, or trade in which the skilled use of one’s hands is required.
The articles made by handicraft:

Handicrafts are different than crafts (i.e. color a picture, cut, and paste). Some people craft for a living, so I’m not dismissing crafts as something important, but they aren’t the same.

For me the key difference would be that crafts have a recreational purpose, while handicrafts focus more on functionality. Handicrafts tend to use natural materials, while crafts use synthetic materials.

I started different forms of handicrafts when I was very young. I learned these lifelong skills at home, from my mama, may Allah AWJ Bless her, who took great pride in making things with her hands. MashAllah, Allahuma Barik.

Benefits, tips, and ideas to introducing handcrafts in your Muslim homeschool.

When I started college, I lost interest in handicrafts and didn’t have much time for it as well. However, when I became a mother I began to turn to handicrafts (mainly when I was stressed, but didn’t realize it then) and rediscovered the thrill of such creations. Alhemdulilahi Rabil Alamin.

Today I’m going to explain benefits, tips, and ideas to introducing handicrafts in your homeschool!

Handicraft Guidelines

Handicraft guidelines for Muslim homeschooling families.

You certainly don’t have to follow guidelines for handicrafts, however I like the concepts that Charlotte Mason put forward.

Charlotte Mason gave the following principles for selecting a handicraft:

  • The children “should not be employed in making futilities.” In other words, make sure the project is useful; not something that you will throw away the minute your child is done.
  • Teach the children “slowly and carefully what they are to do.” Allow several months to learn the skills step by step and learn them correctly.
  • “Slipshod work should not be allowed.” Encourage careful work and best effort from the very beginning.
  • “Therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.” Select a handicraft project that will challenge but not frustrate.

Handicraft Uses

Handicrafts should have multiple uses, from home to gifts to charity.
bag & quilted pouch

I prefer handicrafts that have multiple uses, from home to gifts to charity.

Handicrafts Tips

Work on handicrafts during read-aloud or Poetry Tea time

Handicrafts can be conducted during your Morning Basket slot of your Muslim homeschool.
Child is practicing hand quilting while we read-aloud Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt & a Beatrix Potter book

Once your child can independently work on a handicraft project, they can work on it during read-aloud time. Our read aloud time is during our Morning Basket time slot of the day.

Imagine starting the day with what you love, and then getting into what you don’t (math 😉 ) afterwards. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more willing to start my day if I knew it started with books and handicrafts!

I guess Mary Poppins was right after all. “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

via GIPHY

We read aloud a few books during Morning Basket Time. Anytime I read aloud, I like my children to keep their hands busy.

Morning Basket time is a great time for handicrafts
Our Morning Basket

I know it seems counter intuitive, but children listen better when they have something in their hands. They can choose what they’d like to do, but I’m happy when they choose handiwork. 🙂

Handicrafts is the perfect way to keep little hands busy during read aloud time in your Muslim homeschool.
finger knitting fun

The benefits of handicrafts in your homeschool

We like to explore fabrics while reading The Tailor of Gloucester in our Muslim Homeschool.
Exploring Fabrics while we read The Tailor of Gloucester

Benefit #1 – Handicrafts remind us that education is a life

Charlotte Mason (on the topic of handicrafts suitable for children under 9) insists that handicrafts shouldn’t be futile activities simply designed to entertain children. Rather, handicrafts is real work that children are taught slowly and carefully over time.

Sloppy work and lacking skill are not synonymous. You will have quite a few less-than-perfect sewn pillows and bags around the house.

The goal is for Muslim homeschooling children to improve skills such as measuring, marking lines, cutting, folding with precision, and stitching evenly.
mini hand-stitched quilted doll bag

The goal is for children to improve at skills, such as measuring, marking lines, cutting, folding with precision, and stitching evenly. 

We can’t expect this within the next few weeks, but we should have confidence that our children will improve over time. InshAllah.

Benefit #2 – Handicrafts help create good eye-hand coordination

Handicrafts in your Muslim homeschool help develop great hand eye coordination.

Charlotte Mason emphasized the habit of observation, looking closely and carefully at something. Whether you’re a CM homeschooler or not, observation is a skill you want your child to have.

Handiwork provides training for the hands to work in tandem with the eyes.

Benefit #3 – Handicrafts is an intentional way to slow down

Handicrafts is an intentional way to slow down in your Muslim homeschool.

The very nature of the act is a way of slowing down. It helps bring you back to the present moment.

You stop worrying about the future and trying to fix the past. You are in the here-and-now, which is a healthy place to be.

Benefit #4 – Handicrafts build self-esteem

Handicrafts help your Muslim homeschooled child build self confidence.
“Look mama! I did it!”

Children are very happy to see something that they’ve made on their own and it will boost their self-confidence. InshAllah.

Benefit #5 – Handicrafts help develop fine motor skills

Handicrafts in your Muslim homeschool help develop fine motor skills.
stitching on wool felt

Repetitive, precise movements that are different for each handicraft are beneficial for building hand muscles needed for writing. Instead of forcing a young child to hold a pencil to write, teach her a handicraft and she’ll pick up a pencil when she’s ready!

Benefit #6 – Handicrafts build relationships

When you look back on your childhood, do you remember your math test or the time you spent creating with your mama or a special adult? I’m going to guess the later!

When your child learns handicrafts with you, that is intensive one-on-one time and one of the best ways to build a relationship with your child.

Although love can be shown with gifts, I believe love is shown best when you teach your child a skill in which the end result is a gift that they’ll have for a lifetime. InshAllah.

Benefit #7 – Handicrafts as an entertainment during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Handicrafts are a form of entertainment during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Quarantine plus cold weather can only mean more time indoors for many of us. It is the perfect time to start handicrafts, if you haven’t already.

Benefit #8 – Handicrafts are therapeutic

Handicrafts are very therapeutic and should be introduced into your Muslim homeschool.

I’ve saved the best for last. Handicrafts focus on repetitive actions and a skill level that can always be improved upon.

According to the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this allows us to enter a “flow” state, a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge.

Therapy that is cheaper than therapy – win!

Tips for introducing handicrafts into your homeschool

A felted map is a great addition to your Muslim homeschool for the subject of geography and handicrafts.
felt map

Tip #1 – Focus on one or two handicrafts per year

I’ll be the first one to admit that this one is hard! I struggle with this.

via GIPHY

Here’s the thing – if you’d like your child to develop strong skills in any craft, it’s best to limit yourself to one or two handicrafts per year. Don’t worry, you can still do various small projects throughout the year. 😉

Tip #2 – Process over product

When introducing hadicrafts into your homeschool, first focus on process over product, but don't focus on that forever. Teach skills needed.

It’s a good thing that process over product is finally a topic of discussion in education. It helps us live in the here and now, however don’t confuse this with teaching your child the skills needed to move forward.

When I was in school (back in the dayyyyy 🙂 ) we learned technique in art as well as handicrafts. Today, the focal point is only on creativity.

Creativity is a goal, but it shouldn’t be the only goal. We want our children to develop skills that will take them beyond creativity.

Tip #3 – Offer real handicraft products/tools

A tip for handicrafts in your Muslim homeschool is to use real, quality products.
A messy yet very functional solution 🙂

If you offer your child bad quality handicraft products, plastic needles, and crappy fabric, they will have a difficult time learning anything. And with that difficulty will be a loss of interest.

Offer quality products. You can keep this affordable by saving scraps of the materials that you normally use and look for sales whenever you can.

Handicraft Ideas for your Homeschool

Here are many handicraft ideas for your Muslim homeschool.

I used to think handicrafts only entailed sewing. I was wrong. The ideas are endless!

Hand Sewing

Hand sewing is a great idea for your Muslim homeschool.

It’s a shame this life-affirming skill isn’t taught in many schools anymore-with even the most rudimentary skills, you can make your own wearables and gifts.

Hand-Stitching Tips

Hand stitching is a great handicraft for your Muslim homeschool child.
heart pincushions

We love hand stitching! It’s best to start with hand sewing/stitching because learning to use a sewing machine is another ball park.

From my experience, stitching on regular fabric can be tricky. Use real wool felt or a wool felt blend to make it easier for your child.

Homeschooling children can use wool felt for stitching.
DIY Ramadan Felt Envelope Advent Calendar

I recommend using embroidery needles and thread with wool felt.

First, have your child practice sewing two pieces of wool felt together. Initially there will be inconsistently sized stitching and they will have trouble staying close to the edge without going off the edge.

Have them practice getting smaller stitches of equal size. Once they can do that, work on keeping the line straight. 

Muslim homeschooled children can practice the running stitch on wool felt.
Muslim homeschooled children can practice the blanket stitch on felt.

This stitching video is very helpful! And the lovely Maggy from Red Ted Art has awesome videos to help you with stitching!

Slow Stitching

Slow stitching is a great homeschooling activity that will help your Muslim child slow down, relax, and enjoy.

Ah. One of my favorite things to do.

In a world where everyone seems to always be in a rush, it’s nice to slow down, relax, and not worry about creating a product, but enjoying a process. Slow stitching is perfect for this!

I find slow stitching to be one of the most therapeutic handicrafts. It’s my definition of creative meditation.

Muslim homeschooling mothers can slow stitch in between homeschooling or other responsibilities so they are doing joyful things, rather than rushing things.
silk thread slow stitched on silk fabric

I highly suggest it not only for your children, but also for you, dear mama. It is a great way to connect your breath with your creative work. Many women feel that it helps calm their body and mind.

Some mothers slow stitch in between homeschooling or other responsibilities so they are doing joyful things, rather than rushing things.

Machine Sewing

Teaching Muslim homeschooled children how to use a sewing machine is a great skill!
sewing a reusable shopping bag
Sew a reusable shopping bag with your Muslim homeschooled child.
all done

Don’t underestimate the ability of your child. I’ve seen focused, calm three year olds work with a real sewing machine!

Watch this cutie use a real sewing machine!

Quilting

Children can learn about quilting as a handicraft idea for your Muslim homeschool.
Right- machine quilting; left – hand quilting

Patching together scraps of fabric to make a blanket may have been born out of necessity, but it is the act of quilting – gathering the materials, plotting the pattern, and stitching them together-that continues to make this needlecraft compelling to many folks.

Honestly, I’ve found that quilting can be quite stressful, which is why we’ve turned to improv quilting as we go.

Here is a fun quilting idea for kids!

Embroidery

Embroidery is a perfect craft for your Muslim homeschool.
Embroidery by my six year old, mashAllah Allahuma Barik

Perhaps the simplest of needlecrafts, embroidery is also among the oldest. It is also one of our favorite handicrafts.

Start off with a sampler/kit OR do what we did below!

When we first started embroidery, I purchased basic embroidery supplies and we practiced basic embroider stiches while watching this awesome YouTube channel !

You can teach your Muslim homeschooled child about embroidery stitches.

The image describes character + results. Hehe 🙂

The point? Slow and steady kiddos. Slow and steady.

Knitting

Knitting is a great craft for your Muslim homeschool.

Knitting can be habit-forming-in the best way. It’s blissfully portable and wonderfully relaxing.

If you’re already an avid knitter, this isn’t news- and yet you may still have a container or box stashed with half-made cardigans and other projects. Pull them out and finish them.

Allow your child to observe you and then teach her the steps.

Here is a great tutorial!

Finger Knitting

Finger knitting is perfect for Muslim homeschooled kids!
finger knitted rainbow by the tiniest cutie

I love the idea of handicrafts without tools and especially those that keep little hands busy during read-aloud time!

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Weaving

Weaving is an awesome craft idea for your homeschool.

Guess what. You don’t need a loom to weave! Try sticks, cardboard, or even a tree stump!

Macrame

Macrame is a great homeschooling craft for your Muslim home.

I’d like to teach my children macrame but I need to practice and work on it myself.

Try these awesome macrame ideas!

Needle Felting

Needle fetling Kabah is a great handicraft idea for Dhul Hijja and Hajj in your Muslim homeschool.

My youngest child’s needle felted Kabah above was a Hajj themed handicraft.

Needle felted planets are a great handicraft for learning about the solar system in your Muslim homeschool.

These needle felted planets were felted for our solar system unit prior to Ramadan.

Needle felting flowers is a great handicraft for your Muslim homeschool.

The needle felted flower was a summer time craft by my youngest child without assistance or guidance from an adult. MashAllah, Allahuma Barik.

Wet Felting

Wet felted acorns are a beautiful addition to your handicrafts in your Muslim homeschool.

Wet-felted acorns is one of our favorite Autumn crafts! The tops are real acorns by the way.

Here is a great intro to wet felting!

Crochet

Crochet is a wonderful handicraft to do in your Muslim homeschool.

My children aren’t as interested in crochet this year, however it is a wonderful handicraft for children!

Here is a (cute) intro to crochet!

Jewelry Making

Clay bead necklaces are a great handicraft for your homeschool.

One of my kiddos made clay beads and then turned it into a necklace.

I love this blog post about jewelry making!

Woodworking

Woodworking in your Muslim homeschool, is a great handicraft.

Making a simple bird house is a nice start to woodworking!

Here are some other woodworking ideas for kids with my favorite being the Little Free Library!

Woodburning

This is the most helpful post I’ve found on woodburning so far. I’m hoping to try this with my eldest next year. InshAllah.

Print Making

The super talented Jean Van’t Hul has an amazing blog post on print making!

Book Binding

Book binding is an amazing handcraft for your Muslim homeschool.

We’ve made various books over the years. I love Ana’s simple book making tutorials!

Paper Making

Papermaking is a great homeschooling handicraft.

The lovely Rachelle has an awesome post on making paper with kids!

Candle Making

Make candles with your child in your Muslim homeschool.

I have to admit. This is my reaction when I think about wax around the entire kitchen –

via GIPHY

But…it is really gratifying and worth it in the end. Perhaps do it outside. 😉

Walnut shell candles are a perfect handcraft and make a great centerpiece for Ramadan iftar time!

Get the full tutorial on these cute walnut shell candles!

Ramadan DIY - Walnut shell candles

The lovely Jamie has a written a beautiful blog post on candle making with kids.

Clay Sculpting

Moon phase wall hangings are perfect crafts for Ramadan in your Muslim home.

This moon phase wall hanging was created as a Ramadan/Solar System handicraft activity.

Ramadan handicrafts are great for your Muslim homeschool.

Botanically Dye Fabrics

Muslim homeschoolers can explore plant dyes with their children for kitchen science.

Explore plant dyes with your kids using common kitchen foods such as avocado, onion skins, and more. And there you have your science lesson for the day. 😉

We learned how to dye fabric from binge watching the lovely Ceilidh’s YouTube videos!

And if you thought the list would end, oh no my dear friend

via GIPHY

Frequently Asked Questions

I know nothing about handicrafts. Can you please recommend someone that can teach my child?

I believe in learning along with your child, however if you don’t have the time investment, then look into a complete handicraft kit or online camp.

I’m having trouble finding time for handicrafts in our homeschool. What should I do?

Get rid of the busy work and you will find more time for handicrafts. It also helps to have materials ready and on hand. My couch is overtaken by handicraft supplies as I type this. 😉

The last thing you need to know about handicrafts in your Muslim homeschool

  • You are giving your child a real gift when teaching them handicrafts that will bless them for a lifetime!
  • Enjoy this time with your children.  Learning a new handicraft together, even if it doesn’t go that smoothly – and maybe especially if it doesn’t – is the stuff of memories.
  • I invite you to come chat about handicrafts in my private facebook group!

Helpful Links

Looking for Islamic resources that include handicrafts as an activity? I’ve created two!

  1. Muslim Morning Time Menus for Muslim Families – includes calligraphy
  2. The Happy Hajj Guide – includes painting

Don’t forget about yourself mama! Handcrafts are very therapeutic for you as well!

Looking for a Ramadan DIY handcraft that will strengthen your child’s stitching and embroidery skills? Check this out!

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