Ramadan for Kids

Ramadan activities and teaching resources

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What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, preceded by the month of Sha'aban and succeeded by the month of Shawwal. Ramadan is the Holy Month for Muslims, when those twelve years old and above observe a dawn to dusk complete fast. They do not take any liquids (not even any water), no food, abstain from smoking, marital relations, and gossiping or saying anything malicious against another person.

Some of the most pious and strict Muslims even manage to stop swallowing their own saliva during the fasting hours of Ramadan, but this isn't actually a requirement under observance of Ramadan, one of The Five Pillars of Islam, which are:

  • Observing Sawm (complete fasting) during the Holy month of Ramadan
  • Payment of Zakat (alms tax) during Ramadan
  • Performing the Hajj in Mecca at least once in a lifetime
  • Reciting the Shahadah (profession of faith)
  • Performing Salah (ritual prayers, five times a day)
  • When is Ramadan?

    The Muslim calendar is a Lunar Calendar, which means that the month follows the cycles of the moon. This also means that by comparison to the western calendar, the month of Ramadan will be approximately 11 days earlier in the year compared to the previous year. Ramadan will start on the 11th of August 2010, Wednesday and will continue until the 9th of September. In North America, Ramadan will start one day later, that is the 12th of August.

    While the above dates are almost certainly going to be accurate, Islam traditionally requires that the new moon be sighted by a person appointed by the Islamic authorities in the country where you're located.

    Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

    The first reason of course, is that fasting is a requirement of one of the Five Pillars of Islam. What is important, however, is to appreciate the reasons behind the fasting, what those reasons signify and what this means to fasting Muslims.

    It is most important to a Muslim to show intent in the fast. It is required that they recite short prayer of intent either before they sleep or just before Suhoor, the pre-fast meal.

    The Arabic word for fasting means to 'refrain', to discipline yourself to avoid doing certain things which would be quite normal during the other twelve months of the year. It is also meant to teach Muslims to appreciate how much better off they are than millions of other fellow Muslims. So by refraining from drinking (even water) and food, for the long daylight hours, they should be reminded of those much less fortunate, for whom severe shortage of water and food is a way of life, not something merely done one month of the year. By reminding themselves of this fact, it is hoped that not only will they be more sensitive to those less fortunate, but to try to do something practical to help them.

    Do Muslims eat and drink immediately before they start their daily fast?

    Yes, most Muslims certainly do take a pre-fast meal and the period of eating before the fast is called Suhoor. This is an important meal, for it must set them up for the rest of the day, often 12 or 13 hours before their next meal or drink. A few choose to go to bed slightly later than usual and take a meal and drink before they sleep. While this isn't ideal, and is even frowned upon by more traditional Muslims, for some it does mean that they sleep longer and can cope more easily with the fast of the day to come.

    What happens every day when Muslims break their fast?

    As daylight begins to fade, Muslims await the Muezzin's call to perform the Maghrib prayers. Once the call is heard, and the Maghrib prayers are performed, they may break fast (called Iftaar in Arabic). (You can see here too the origin of the word "breakfast", which literally meant to break the fast during the night, after having eaten the last meal the day before).

    Most will first take some form of thirst-quenching drink, and this varies not only by individual preferences, but also but local customs. It is quite common in the Middle East to break fast with water and dates, but in Malaysia it is more common to drink a local fruit juice, sugar cane juice or rose syrup water, with either dates or kway (small, sweet cakes or pastry). Some prefer to drink soya bean milk not only as a thirst quencher, but also for its extra protein value.

    Upon breaking fast, most very strict Muslims, will merely take a few fresh dates, or dried dates if fresh are not available. If neither is available they will just take a few sips of water.

    It is common for most families to have their evening meal at home straight after breaking fast, and while the meal should be in keeping with the meanings of Ramadan (in other words not a feast), it has become common in modern cities around the world for Muslim families to go out to eat at a local restaurant, particularly those in a hotel.

    If during Ramadan you see Muslim families sitting quietly at a restaurant table, with the meal served, but not yet eating, it is because the Maghrib prayers have not yet been called, and they cannot yet break fast.

    Can younger children fast during Ramadan?

    Indeed they can, and in fact many even as young as four or five, are encouraged to fast for a few hours a day during Ramadan, to begin to appreciate the significance of the Holy month. As they get a little older, most families encourage their children under 12 to fast for half a day, until they reach twelve years old, when all Muslim children are expected to fast for the full dawn to dusk period. Interestingly (and perhaps surprisingly to non-Muslim children), many who are approaching twelve look forward to being old enough to fast for the full day, more than anything else. It means to them, that they are now being treated the same as an adult, and all the responsibilities that adulthood brings.

    How is the end of Ramadan celebrated around the world?

    Wherever a Muslim resides, be it in one of the Middle East countries, in Indonesia (the country with the world's largest Muslim population), or even in London, Paris or Dearborn, Michigan, they will start their end of Ramadan celebrations by going to the mosque for special congregational prayers which give thanks to God for His blessings during the Holy month of Ramadan, now ended. Both men and women may go to the mosque at this time, but the men will say their prayers separately from the women.

    Many will return to their family home for Ramadan, usually where their parents are living, and in Indonesia and Malaysia this is known as Balik Kampung. Paying homage to their parents is a very important part of the celebrations, when the younger Muslims will ask their parents for forgiveness for misdeeds during the year, and kiss their hands as a sign of respect.

    They return home (or go to the homes of family and friends) to continue their celebration, which in Arabic is called Eid Al Fitr. The meals prepared will reflect the culture and traditions of the country from which the Muslim family is living in or hails. For those who are now residing in western countries, it can be fascinating to find the end of Ramadan celebrations of Muslims from India, Pakistan, Arab countries, Malaysia, Indonesia or even European countries, reflected in the variety of food on the table.

    In Malaysia, where I live, Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, what they call Hari Raya Puasa, will also hold an Open House, when they invite their non-Muslim friends and neighbors to join them for food and drink. The special Hari Raya Puasa food includes delicious beef or chicken rendang, often Johor or Penang Laksa and many different kueh delicacies, small sweet cakes and pastries, especially made for Puasa. It's a wonderful time, and of course enjoyed by all, who will also all look forward to the next festival being celebrated, which might be for Chinese New Year, Christmas or Deepavali (Diwali), the Hindu festival of lights.

    Article submitted by: Mike Davies


    The Story of Ramadan
    Find out what The Ninth Month and a Important Fast is all about.

    Muhammad and the Holy Quran
    The Story of Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Quran

    The Muslim Faith
    A brief look at Islam. What is Islam.

    The 5 Pillars of Faith

    Learn about the 5 duties of the Islamic Religion.

    Hari Raya Puasa
    Celebrated by the Muslims signifies the end of the fasting season of Ramadan for a month. Take a look at how it is celebrated, it's culture, customs and traditions. Includes recipes.

    Fasting (Ramadan)

    Find out more about Ramadan

    Misunderstandings and violations in Ramadan
    Ramadan Kids
    This site is suitable for young children who wants to find out more about Ramadan Learn how to sing the song about Ramadan which plays on the website.

    Sue Ellen's Scrapbook : Ramadan
    Suitable for young children. Sue Ellen talks about her pen pal and the way she celebrates Ramadan.

    Children's Activities in Ramadan
    Lesson ideas, poems, songs and more to teach children about Ramadan

    Ramadan Scavenger Hunt
    Printable worksheet

    Ramadan (Islamic Holiday)by Christy Ferguson
    Lesson plan for Grade 5-7.
    BBC : Islam : Ramadan
    Get the facts here as well as the teaching guide
    Children and Ramadan
    Explains to Muslim children the fruits of fasting. Read a story from and poem to your child here.
    Fact Sheet for Teachers about Ramadan
    Ramadan Lesson Ideas
    Ramadan Bulletin Board Ideas
    Mission Islam : Ramadan
    A good site covering every aspect of Ramadan. Includes Ramadan for children. Lesson plans for teachers
    Ramadan Activities
    Lots of ideas to make with your children.
    Preschool Program for Ramadan
    Includes songs, activites, recipes and more

    Two Malay children celebrating Hari Raya Puasa - end of Ramadan

    Ketupat or Malay rice dumpling

    Traditional Malay Dance Coloring

    Many Hari Raya Songs to choose from here.
    You need Realplayer to be able to hear the songs. Download it for free. 5/5. You can listen to the song below being sung here.

    Learn how to sing the Arabic Alphabet song

    Ramadan Song

    Make a Hari Raya Card Craft by kiddyhouse.com
    Requires cutting and pasting activity. For ages 4 - 9. A Ketupat (Malay Rice Dumpling card).

    Make a Mosque Craft by kiddyhouse.com
    Requires cutting and pasting activity. For ages 6 - 10.

    Make a Ramadan Lamp Craft by kiddyhouse.com
    Requires cutting, folding and pasting. For ages 4 - 7.

    Crafts for Ramadan
    Make a Ramadan Collage and mobile

    A Ramadan Activity for kids

    Make a Ramadan Card by kiddyhouse.com
    Requires cutting and pasting activity. For ages 3 - 10. 4 cards to choose from.

    Crayola : Ramadan Activities
    Coloring, craft ideas, e-cards and lesson plans

    Ramadan Mobile Sun Catcher


    Ramadan Cards and Ecards

    Animated Ramadan e-cards

    Ramadan e-cards

    There are several games to play here

    Muslim Kids Club
    Read Stories, print out pictures to colour plus many more activities. Good site.

    Color the mosque.

    Song Title : Selamat Hari Raya by Saloma
    Midi sequenced by Arbanji

    Play Song
    Click to listen to music

    Part of the Lyrics to above song :
    Translated into English

    Selamat Aidil Fitri
    Happy Aidil Fitri
    Kepada saudara serta saudari
    To gentlemen and ladies
    Setahun, hanya sekali
    Only once a year
    Merayakan hari yang mulia ini.
    Celebrating this special day

    Di masa, Bulan Ramadan
    During the month of Ramadan
    Kita berpuasa hingga sebulan
    We fast for a month
    Apabila, syawal menjelma
    When the 10th month of the Muslim Calendar is in sight
    Hari Raya disambut dengan gembira.
    New Year is celebrated with happiness

    Share your Radaman activities here. Email me at "kiddyhouseATyahooDOTcom the the subject line - Ramadan Activities, I will try to put it up here. No promises though.

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