Pack your bags—at least in your imaginations!—because this week, we’re headed to India to learn more about this amazing country. From the animals and architecture to the language and cuisine, your child will be immersed in Indian culture and gain a hands-on understanding of what life is like there (and how it might not be so different from your own!). Ready to start? Click here to download your skills tracker for the week.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- Living in…India by Chloe Perkins
- Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth (or you can read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Seven Gold Rings by Rajani LaRocca
- Grandfather Ghandi by Arun Ghandi and Betheny Hegedus (or listen to this read aloud)
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- LEGOs, cardboard, or other building materials
- cardstock (colorful and white)
- gem stickers
- coffee filters
- paper plate
- popsicle sticks
- sensory bin or baking dish
- orange foam sheet (or you could use cardstock)
- faux flower stamens (or you could cut the shape out of paper)
- googly eyes
- pony beads
- base 10 blocks
- black tempera paint
- wooden skewers
- lined paper
- food coloring
- ingredients for this recipe
- bleeding tissue paper
- watercolor paper
- black marker
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Let’s get ready to explore India! Start by doing some mapwork to find India on a world map, globe, or atlas. Next, let’s read Living in…India. If you aren’t able to get the book, you can also read this webpage for some more India facts.
Activity 1: Let’s dig a bit deeper into the the map of India. Print this coloring sheet of the country. Using your world map or atlas, help your child to color it and label the following landmarks:
- The capital of India, New Delhi
- The Himalaya Mountains
- The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal
- The Ganges River
Activity 2: The streets of major Indian cities are infamous for their traffic. One way that people get around these crowded streets is a kind of taxi called a tuk tuk. Click here to learn more about this cool vehicle, and then build your own out of LEGOs or with any materials you have on hand.
Activity 3: One famous animal that is highly respected in India? The Indian elephant! Elephants are often decorated and dressed up for important festivals, like the Elephant Festival in Jaipur, which happens as part of the Holi celebrations. You can learn more about the festival here, and then click here for a video of this gorgeous procession.
Do you know how to tell an Indian elephant and an African elephant apart? Watch this video to learn the differences, and then do this pretty Indian elephant craft. (Need an elephant template? Click here for one to print at home.)
Has your child ever heard of a monsoon? A monsoon is a seasonal change in the strongest winds in a region, often bringing about changes in precipitation, including flooding (source). Many farmers in India rely on this rain for their crops. Let’s read Monsoon for an illustrated look at this natural phenomenon.
Activity 1: While monsoon season brings good things for the people in India, it also means lots of rain! Let’s play off of this with this STEM challenge on how to make a good umbrella.
Activity 2: Did you see all the peacocks in our book? Peafowl are native to India, and they are the national bird. Let’s learn more about these beautiful birds from this website, and then let’s make this peacock craft.
Activity 3: In our Modern-Day Egypt Unit, your child learned how to write their name in Arabic. Now, let’s learn how to do it in Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in India! Type their name on this website, and then copy the Hindi letters into a word document to print them larger. Have your child copy the letters underneath for a new take on copywork!
Start by reading Seven Gold Rings.
Activity 1: Our book discusses several math concepts, so pick an idea from the list below—or do several throughout the week if your child is engaged!
- In our book, Baghat is actually using a form of binary (or base two) counting to pay for his room at the inn. In our Fall Harvest Unit, we introduced place values, or base 10, using number blocks. Let’s review that lesson today! If you need help getting started, watch our demonstration video here.
- Is binary code new to you? You probably use it a lot without even realizing. That’s because binary code is how computers talk and present information. The back of our book contains a helpful explanation of binary counting, but here are some basics you can share with your child:
- Where base 10 has place values that increase by the power of ten (i.e ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.), base two increases by powers of two (i.e. one, twos, fours, eights, sixteens, etc.).
- Where base 10 has ten possible values for each digit (0-9), base two only allows two possible values: 0 or 1.
- A 1 on a certain place indicates that place is added toward the final number. For example, the number 12 is written in base two as 1100. The first digit represents eights, the second fours, the third twos, and the fourth ones. So you would add 8+4+0+0 = 12!
If you’re scratching your head, don’t worry! Share the information with your child as a way to expose them to a new way of understanding numbers, but don’t stress if you don’t feel like they get it yet. You can also try this binary beading activity to represent your child’s birth date with binary code as a way of making a personal connection with this new way of writing numbers.
Activity 2: While Baghat is making his journey, he talks about dividing music notes. If you were with us for our Clouds + Weather Unit, your child knows how to do this, too! Review how notes can be divided with our Rain, Rain Go Away Rhythm Activity, or you can introduce half and whole notes with this new activity.
Activity 3: Henna scratch art.
Activity 4: Another famous Indian animal? The Bengal tiger! (They’re actually India’s national animal!) Click here to learn more about Bengal tigers, and then do this tiger color-by-number. (Note: The answer key is missing 12, but it should be an orange color.)
Read Grandfather Ghandi to learn about an important figure in Indian history who continues to affect the wrold today.
Activity 1: Mahatma Ghandi is a famous historical figure with special meaning to India—but his legacy has impacted the world. Let’s watch this video to learn about how he changed history for India. (This article also has some great lessons children can learn from Ghandi.) Let’s make Ghandi the subject of our copywork practice today. Pick one of his famous quotes from this list and have your child copy it onto lined paper.
Activity 2: Let’s get a little geometry practice by introducing (or reinforcing) your child’s understanding of pentagons (a 5-sided figure) and hexagons (a 6-sided figure) through a traditional Indian folk art called rangoli. Rangoli is a decorative folk art from India that is created on the ground in front of entrances to homes, inside the homes, or in courtyards during celebrations to bring good luck and welcome Hindu gods and goddesses. The details in rangoli decorations can include lotus flowers, mango leaves, geometric shapes, or other elaborate designs made of rice flour, colored sand, or even flower petals. (source) This video shows you some Indian people creating rangoli designs for a competition.
We’ll use rangoli as the inspiration for our math lesson. First, print these rangoli-inspired templates to introduce your child to pentagons and hexagons. Point out the number of sides and angles on each shape. Next, use this tutorial to color them in with colorful salt.
Activity 2: Let’s get a taste for Indian culture with this simple cookie recipe, a Coconut Ladoo.
It’s Art + Music day! Dance has a long history in India, and today many traditional Indian folk dances have been reimagined in Bollywood movies. Never heard of Bollywood? You can read more about it here, but here are some main points to share with your child, along with a few notes about Bollywood dance:
- “Bollywood” refers to the Hindi language movie industry that began in India. The name is a combination of Bombay (now called Mumbai, where most Indian movies are made) and Hollywood, the place where most American movies are made.
- Bollywood movies are usually made in Hindi or Urdu, but many recently made movies also feature English parts.
- In general, Bollywood movies are a lot like musicals with song and dance numbers written into the script.
- Bollywood plots are often melodramatic. They often use common ideas such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, scheming villains, hookers with a heart of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences.
- Bollywood dance is the name given to the dance-form used in Indian (Hindi) films. The most energetic and colorful Indian dance forms are Bhangra and Garba, and they have merged with other dance forms from around the world to become the now-famous Bollywood dance.
- Bollywood Dance style is a fusion of various dance styles, including Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Bhangra, jazz, and hip-hop, to name a few. Classical Indian dance incorporates the two basic elements of dance and expression.
Activity 1: Let’s try out some Bollywood-inspired dance of our own with this simple tutorial for kids!
Activity 2: Now let’s learn a bit about classical Indian music. One of the main differences between Western music and Indian music is how the music comes together. In Western music, there is typically a melody part (the main tune of a song that you find yourself humming when a song is stuck in your head) and a harmony part (which complements the melody and adds richness to the song). In Indian music, however, there is usually a melody (called the raga), a drone part (a single sustained note or series of notes that provide a background for the melody), and the rhythm (called the tala).
Let’s look deeper at the melody. Western music has two kinds of scales: major (think of “happy” tunes, like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) or minor (“sad” or dark sounding tunes, like “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins). Indian music, though, has dozens of different ragas that set the mood of the piece in very specific detail, even being associated with a specific time of day or season. (source) Want to hear some examples? Click here and scroll down to the second “Try it!” with the audio recordings. Play each one and ask your child if they think it was associated with evening, the rainy season, and day break.
Activity 3: The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous examples of Indian architecture, and many people think it is the most beautiful building the world! Watch this brief video to learn some more facts about the construction of this amazing structure, and then click here to explore the Taj Mahal with Google Earth. Finally, let’s make this beautiful craft.
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