Level 1: India Unit Study

Get ready to explore India with all your senses, from the smells and tastes to the beautiful music and architecture. (Plus, plenty of native Indian animals!) Throughout the week, look for opportunities to make connections between Indian culture and your own while your child works on math, science, history, and more in a play-based way. Click here to download our skills tracker for your records.

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):

Optional additional reading:

  • The English Meets Urdu 3-Book Set by Benish Shah – While not required, we love the simple way these colorful, engaging board books can help teach younger learners about another common language in India, Urdu.

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

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!

Letter of the Week: I

New to the letter of the week? Start here! Next, print your letter I coloring sheet and Letter Guide. This week is packed with opportunities to practice the letter I. Let your child color the coloring sheet as you work through the next part of the lesson.

The Letter I makes four different sounds – The first I in India makes the short /ĭ/ sound. The second I in India makes the /ē/ sound. The other two sounds are the long /ī/ sound as in ice and the /y/ sound like in onion.  Reinforce the sounds with our Letter of the Week Song.

Remember, the guide isn’t a worksheet! The first page is for you, the grown-up. Use it to introduce the letter name, the sounds it makes, and to demonstrate how to draw each letter. Display the Letter Guide in your school area along with the completed coloring sheet to reinforce the lesson throughout the week.

Next, use the second sheet to create a page for your child’s phonics book. Review the book a few times each week until your child has mastered these phonics.

Lesson 1:

Get ready to explore India! Start by helping your child to locate India on a world map, globe, or atlas. Next, let’s read Good Night India.

Activity 1: India Memory Game. Print the cards in our download on white cardstock (or other thicker paper) and cut them out, laying them face down in front of your child. When your child finds a match, use the included reference guide to explain the significance of the image to Indian culture.

Activity 2: This is what India’s flag looks like:


After showing them, print this picture of the India flag for your child to color. As your child colors, share this information about the flag of India:

  • The saffron (or deep orange) stripe stands for courage and sacrifice.
  • The white stripe represents peace, unity, and truth.
  • The green stripe represents faith and prosperity.
  • The blue represents the sky and the ocean.
  • The wheel represents Dharma Chakra (or Wheel of Law) in the Sarnath Lion Capital. (source)

Activity 3: Elephants are a highly treasured animal in India, but they aren’t the same elephants you’ll learn about in our Savana Unit later in the year. These are Indian elephants! Watch this brief video to learn the difference between the two, and then let’s make a beautiful India elephant craft.

Begin by printing this template on regular paper and cutting out the elephant, then trace the elephant onto a piece of black paper. Outline the traced elephant with liquid glue, and then use a paintbrush to gently pull the glue in toward the center of the elephant (you should not fill the whole thing in, just the outer edges). Pour white sand or glitter over the glue, and then shake off the excess. Use ore glue to create a rectangle shape on the elephant’s back for its blanket, and then pour colorful sequins on this shape. Once dry, shake off the excess and admire your beautiful elephant!

Add a gross motor activity to your lesson by pretending to be an elephant. Stomp your feet, use your arm as the trunk, make trumpet sounds just like an elephant.

Lesson 2:

Today we’ll be highlighting a few parts of Indian culture that will encourage your child to make connections with their own life and someone living in India or with Indian heritage. Look for opportunities to compare and contrast—you will likely find many commonalities that you might not have known about before! Start by reading Same, Same But Different.

Activity 1: Point out the pages of the book where Kailash shows his alphabet. These are the letters of a language called Hindi, which is the most commonly spoken language in India. Yesterday, we printed out a worksheet with a common Hindi greeting: namaste. Practice saying the greeting. If your child shows an interest in learning other Hindi words, click here to watch a three-minute video with more common Hindi greetings. If you purchased the English Meets Urdu books, you can also introduce these books to teach another language of India, Urdu.

Activity 2: One of our favorite ways of connecting with a new culture is through food, and you can’t have Indian food without spices! Let’s explore some Indian spices with this Montessori-inspired sensory activity. First, print these spice cards and cut them out. Use the internet or your spice cabinet to help your child determine the name of each spice, pairing the photo and the name cards together.

Next, put a small amount of each spice in a small spice jar, baby food jar, or plastic baggie, using your spice cards to label each package. Encourage your child to touch, taste, and smell each spice, describing how they experience each one out loud. You can also look up some recipes that use their favorites!
(+) Turn this into a literacy activity by having your child write the names of each of the spices, either using a movable alphabet or with pencil on lined paper.

Activity 3: 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. You can see a peafowl spread its wings and make its sound in this video. Can your child imitate the sound? Get moving and practice shaking your pretend feathers just like the peafowl. Next, let’s make this handprint peacock craft.

Lesson 3:

Start by reading Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala.

Activity 1: Let’s make our own marigold garland like Priya! This simple tutorial shows you how to make marigolds out of tissue paper that will last through the winter.

Activity 2: In our book, Priya loves making traditional Indian dishes with her grandmother. Let’s make a favorite Indian drink with this Mango Lassi recipe! The recipe is very simple, so let your child do as much of it on their own as they’re able to.

Activity 3: Another famous Indian animal? The Bengal tiger! (They’re actually India’s national animal!)

  • The Bengal Tiger is the national animal of India and Bangladesh, and can even be seen on Bangladeshi money!
  • Bengal Tiger stripes are unique to each individual and act just like human fingerprints do.
  • At approximately 4 inches long, the Bengal Tiger has the largest canine teeth of any living cat, and their retractable claws are perfect for climbing trees!
  • Bengal tigers are strong swimmers.
  • Tigers are solitary and spend most of their day resting in a shaded area, conserving energy for their late hunts!
  • The main threats facing the Bengal Tiger are poaching and habitat loss.


Let’s do a tiger craft. You will need this printable, coloring supplies, a toilet paper roll, black and orange paint, scissors, and glue.

First, have your child color the tiger head and tail on the printable. (We have included two of each in case you are working with a sibling or friend!)

Next, paint your toilet paper roll orange with black stripes and let dry completely. Once dry, cut down one long side of the roll completely, and then cut two small rectangles out of each long side edge (to create the tiger’s legs).

Finally, tape or glue the tiger’s head and tail onto the roll to complete the tiger.

Lesson 4:

Today, let’s learn about a vivid Indian tradition, Holi! Start by reading Festival of Colors.

Activity 1: Now let’s have some fun with color ourselves! If you’re not ready to start throwing color like they do in Holi (we don’t blame you!), try this bubble paint craft to create some beautiful, colorful art. (The tutorial ends at 1:19 in the video. Please be careful that your child only blows out of the straw since paint and soap should not ingested. Supervise this activity at all times. If you aren’t comfortable with this activity, use one of the others in the video.)

Activity 2: Inspired by all the colors of this festive festival? Let’s play with this rainbow sensory bin!

Activity 3: Once your rainbow rice is thoroughly mixed, let’s use it for a math writing tray activity. First, download this printable and print and cut out the cards. (You may also want to laminate the cards for durability.) Next, present your child with the cards that apply to the skill they are currently working on. Here are some options for play:

  • Dot cards: The dotted cards reinforce counting skills and one to one correspondence (understanding that one means one of something, that two means two of something…). Ask your child to write the number of dots they see on the card into the rice writing tray.
  • Number cards: Use these cards to work on number writing. Flip the first card over and invite your child to write the number in the tray using their finger or a paint brush. You can also encourage your child to read the number before writing it to encourage number recognition.
  • Number word cards: If your child is working on recognizing number words, use these cards. After they read the word, they can write the number word or numeral in the tray.
  • Addition facts: If your child is ready to work on some simple addition, place the addition math cards about the tray. Invite your child to flip over the top card and write the answer in the tray.
  • Blank cards: Is your child ready for more? For older children, use these blank cards to write subtraction or even simple multiplication facts for them to solve in the rice tray.
Lesson 5:

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: There is so much to say about Indian music, but let’s focus on one of the primary differences between traditional Indian music and Western music. 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).

Click here to show your child examples of the instruments that can be used to play these three parts, and then click here to watch a musical performance of classical Indian music. Can you identify the three parts?

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 in the world! Watch this brief video to learn some more facts about the construction of this amazing structure. Next, let’s demonstrate symmetry for your child. Print this photo of the Taj Mahal and fold it in half. Next, hold the photo up to a mirror on an angle so the building is completed in the reflection. That’s symmetry!

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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