India Unit Study: Week 4

For our final week, we’ll meet famous Indians including a famous mathematician and artist. We will also meet some native animals who call this country home. We will practice mapping skills and learn a lot of history. We’ll also work on autobiographies, practice some natural dyeing techniques, and end the week with a sweet local favorite. Want to track your progress along the way? Download our skills and books tracker for your records.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

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

Note: We break down our supply list by so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Make a map activity:

Paint an elephant activity:

Make natural dye activity:

Henna at home:

Creative writing:

Lassi recipe:

Lesson 1:

For our final week of our India Unit, we’ll be looking at some of the country’s more modern history, beginning with British colonization.

Activity 1: Read + Discuss pages 20-22 of Honest History to learn about British Imperialism. This lesson will give you an opportunity to discuss important parts of history that cover colonization, The East India Company, social injustice, prejudice, and racism. We aren’t providing you with specific question and answer points, but here are some of the things you could discuss:

  • What must it have been like for the Indian people during this time?
  • What was the motivation of the EIC?

Next, read pages 32- 35 to learn a brief summary of how India eventually gained independence from British rule and how one country became two (Pakistan and India) and then eventually three with the addition of Bangladesh.

Note: While we believe it can be an excellent resource, we chose not to feature the Usborne Encyclopedia World History book’s version of this time in history. It is our goal at The Learn + Live Letter to utilize the most accurate, objective resources when telling the stories of history. This can also be an excellent time to discuss the important of verifying sources with your child.

Activity 2: Explore. Learn more about the country boundaries of India and Pakistan that exist today. Looking at a map, an atlas, or Google Earth of these two countries. Next, look up information about the countries’ flags, their capitals, famous places and lots other information about them here (watch the NatGeo video on this page) and here. Finally, make your own map of these three countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan) following this method with masking tape and water colors. 

Activity 3: Take a virtual tour of India in a cab! Watch this video feed to see what it would be like to drive through the cities of Delhi and Mumbai.

Activity 4: Listen to this podcast for kids all about India.

Lesson 2:

Let’s spend today learning about some other natives of India…the animals!

Activity 1: Read 26-30 of Honest History to learn about the animals native to India. There is a fantastic series on Disney +/National Geographic called Secrets of Wild India that highlights elephants, tigers, and lions. Each of the three episodes is 45 minutes long. Watch a new one each day this week to continue learning about the animals of India. 

Activity 2: The famous Indian artist Ustad Mansur is well known for his paintings of animals. Learn a bit more about him here. His pieces can be seen at the MET in NYC.

***Not sure how to talk about art with your child? Get tips from a former MET Art Educator here!

Activity 3: Let’s draw an elephant with some watercolors using this tutorial as inspiration.

Lesson 3:

Art in India takes many forms. We see the artistry in India’s architecture, their paintings, in their storytelling, and even in their caves! Let’s take a closer look at three more art forms: fashion, henna, and street art.

Activity 1: The style and fashion of India is varied. Much depends on where people live and their social status. Review the highlights of this article to learn about it. Next, read the story A Sari for Ammi.

Next, learn about the history of dyeing fabric in India in this post. There is also a video embedded in the post that demonstrates the process. Finally, try your hand at dyeing fabric with the activity below. You can do this activity with a washcloth, T-shirt, apron, or a cloth bag made of natural fibers such as cotton or linen.

  1. Begin by making your own dye using fruits and vegetables as is described in this post. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by this one? We recommend starting with a simple and effective dye—turmeric. We tripled the recipe to have a lot of liquid to dip our T-shirt into.  
  2. Prepare your fabric. When using natural dyes, you will have to prep your fabric ahead of time. Use clean, natural fabrics (prewashed if new). Soak your fabrics in 1 cup of vinegar and 4 cups of water for one hour. (source)
  3. Carefully rinse the fabric in cold water and then gently wring out the excess water. You can either dye the entire piece or try twisting it in one of these ways to create a pattern. (Keep in mind that you will only be using one color dye, so the contrast will be in that one color and the white from the fabric.) Immediately soak fabric in the natural dye until it reaches the desired color (we soaked ours for a few hours). Transfer to a zippered bag or closed container overnight or up to 24 hours. The next day, rinse the fabric under cool water until the water runs clear. Hang to air dry. Do not dry in direct sunlight—the sun will bleach out the color. To further set the dye, run the fabric through a dryer by itself.

Need a video to see the process? Here’s one that might help.

Activity 2: Begin by reading the book Nadia’s Hands (or here on OpenLibrary). Read about the history and use of henna in India in this post. Buy this henna and these stencils to try henna at home. 

Activity 3: Read the story The Secret Kingdom. This beautiful picture book tells the story of a refugee during the partition of India in 1947. Nek Chand Saini was resettled in a new city and began making art by collecting broken glass, cracked water pots, and discarded construction material. Create your own mixed media art collage using whatever materials you have at home. These can include recycling materials, old cloth, paper, buttons, or items from nature. Use this post for inspiration

Lesson 4:

Today, we’ll take a closer look at modern-day India.

Activity 1: Many Indian people have had an impact in the arts, history, math, and science. Read pages 10-11 in Honest History to learn about four of them. Next, read The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity, a picture book biography of a famous mathematician named Ramanujan.

As we read in the story, Ramanujan loved numbers from a very young age. Let’s learn some new math skills that will help us grow in our understanding of numbers. Watch this Math Antics video to learn about negative numbers. (+)If your child already knows about negative numbers, watch this video about adding and subtracting integers.

Activity 2: Creative Writing. Reading biographies helps us learn about people and their accomplishments. When a person writes about themselves, these books are called autobiographies. Today, try working with your student to write their story. This assignment may seem daunting to most students so read this blog post before you get started. Print and use these two printables that include a planner and booklet to help write their story.

Activity 3: Read another biography of one of the most famous Indians of all time, Mohamed Gandhi in the chapter book, I Am Gandhi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero. Ghandi has many famous quotes that can be great for copywork. You can find a list here—let your child choose one to copy.

Lesson 5:

Let’s end our unit on a sweet note! We’ll learn about one of India’s biggest exports and make a delicious and refreshing recipe.

Activity 1: India is the largest producer of fruits in the world and is known as “the fruit basket of the world.” The major fruits grown in India are mangos, grapes, apples, apricots, oranges, bananas, avocados, guava, lichi, papaya, sapota, and watermelons. (source) Let’s take a virtual tour of a mango farm! Read this post and see the video embedded in the post. (The video is not in English, but you can still get a feel for the farm.)

Activity 2: Make this mango Lassi recipe

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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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