Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, A Muslim Book of Shapes Learning Time

Resource type: 
Learning Time




Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan & Mehrdokht Amini 

From a crescent moon to an octagonal fountain, this sumptuous picture book celebrates the shapes—and traditions—of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire discussion about world religions, cultures and families, as well as colours and shapes. 

Key Message for Parents | Children are born ready to use and learn Mathematics 

Some ideas practitioners can share with parents include: 

  • Early play-based experiences allow children to explore mathematical concepts. 
  • Using books and games to explore mathematical concepts is a fun way to help your child learn. 
  • Follow your child’s lead - encourage conversation and experimentation but don’t push or criticise. 
  • Give children ample opportunities to revisit and return to favourite books and games to build on their learning. 
  • Our brains are wired from birth to seek out patterns and to notice changes, so children 

Before Reading 

We have already thought about three shapes – star, diamond, and crescent! 

Show the children the cover of the book and ask them what that can see. (Answers, can include people, cat, bird, towers, windows, etc.). Then, direct the conversation to the shapes. Can you see any shapes? You may also like to talk about the colours of the shapes. 

Turn to the endpapers at the start of the book and continue the shape hunt discussion. Talk about the stars. Then say, ‘Let’s see what happens in the story and if we can spot any more shapes.’ 

During Reading 

Each double page spread of the story has two sentences (or one sentence with two parts). The first sentence references a shape in the illustration and the second sentence elaborates on the significance of the object. How much you read will depend on the engagement of the group, and this will vary depending on age and number of children. 

Begin by reading all of the text on each page but change the plan if the group appears distracted. If the group is particularly wriggly it maybe be helpful to read just the first sentence on each page and then look for the shape in the illustration and talk about the shape and the picture. 

For example, ‘Octagon is a fountain it’s water so blue.’ 

Then ask the children “Can anyone see the fountain? It’s an octagon shape. I’m going to trace my finger around the edge. I’m going to do that again – let’s count the sides as my finger moves around. Can you make an octagon shape in the air with your finger? Let’s do it together.” 

If children are highly engaged you can read the second part of the text – I wash before payers and make my wadu - and talk about other aspects of the illustration. “Who can see someone washing? Yes. The lady is washing.” Some children may wish to make connections between the rituals in the story and their own religion, festivals and ways of worship. Muslim children may wish to share their own knowledge relating to aspects of the story. 

Continue the conversation for each page and continue to gauge the level of engagement and concentration in the room and respond accordingly. 

Carers could be encouraged to borrow the book to read in full to their child at home. Explain to carers that children are often able to concentrate for longer periods in a cosy one on one situation. This is because they have more opportunity to ask question and participate in the conversation with less distractions. The adult reader is also able to go at a pace that suits the child and gently redirect their attention. Books do not have to be read in one sitting. It might be that you read a few pages together and come back to it later.

After Reading 

Draw the children’s attention to the end papers at the back of the book. What is the same? What is different?

For full Learning Time please download the attached PDF




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