We had so much fun learning about India with Winter Promise’s Children Around the World curriculum that we decided to spend two weeks rather than the one we were assigned to do.
Living in Malaysia, we are surrounded by Indian culture, with at least 10% of the population of our island being of Indian origin. So it was a lot of fun for the girls to learn more about the great country of India, its diversity of cultures and languages, and how God has worked and continues to work there now. We also had easy access to some experiential learning!
The morning we were to begin studying India, we walked down to our neighborhood wet market to pick up some eggs, veggies, and fruit from our favorite Indian seller who is also our neighbor from a few doors down. She informed us that we were to be at her house at 8pm that night to eat dinner at the celebration of her grandchild’s 16th day of life. (This is very typical at least for this family – we are never invited or given any advance notice but instead summoned with the time that we had better be there or else! It always makes us smile because we know it means we are loved!)
Since Daddynificent was out of the country and the youngest three go to bed early, I left my mom who was visiting at the time in charge of the sleepers and took the two older girls to the celebration. The food was amazing as always – a mild eggplant and chicken curry with lots of side dishes including my favorite moringa leaves served on a banana leaf – and we ate it with our hands as it was meant to be eaten! While we ate, all the women in the family performed their roles in the ceremony – some served food and drink while others washed the baby and prepared incense and offerings for the various Hindu gods involved in that night’s rituals. While we’ve been to several of these ceremonies in the past so none of it was new to the girls, it was nonetheless a perfect beginning to our studies of India and provided fodder for a multitude of conversations we would have in the ensuing days!
Later in the week, we tried our hand at making Indian chai for snack one day. We are fortunate to have access to all the fresh spices, and it was delicious! We ended our studies by making our favorite Indian butter chicken recipe and enjoying it with flatbread. This was perhaps my personal favorite week of studies when it comes to food! 🙂
Our Winter Promise curriculum books, Children of Many Lands and our World Travels Diaries, included lots of great information about India, and their Fun and Traditions of Many Lands gave us some great ideas for hands-on activities, as it always does. One of our favorites was making chilankas which is one of the regional names for the elaborate strings of bells worn around the ankles by those who perform classical Indian dances to draw attention to the marvelous footwork of the dancers. Ours were not elaborate and the kids opted to wear them as bracelets but they were much loved (and very jingly!)
We also enjoyed learning about rangoli, an ancient folk art in India that uses common colored materials like colored sand, rice, flour, marbles, stones, flower petals, or even chalk to create temporary designs on floors and in common public areas. The designs are thought to bring good luck, and are typically completed for festivals like Diwali or special occasions. We learned from Fun and Traditions that rangoli can be geometric shapes, flowers, circles, fish or birds, or even more elaborate designs like landscapes. With the idea of Persian rugs from last week still fresh in her mind, Bignificent decided to use a traditional rangoli-type design and make another embroidered coaster. She is almost finished with it, and I think it looks fantastic! I loved observing her creatively synthesizing her learning about Persian rugs, Indian rangoli, and sewing, as well as the math needed to create the pattern!
We haven’t been doing a lot of field trips this year, mostly due to the baby’s nap schedule, but I earned some MAJOR mommy points by taking everyone to our neighborhood salon to have their hands painted with henna! What a fascinating and beautiful art form this is! The girls were elated! One of the workers in the salon is a friend of ours so she even let us try painting with the henna ourselves. Let me just say it is not easy and our feeble attempts did not look nearly as good as theirs which are pictured on our hands above!
Books and Resources for Learning about India
I want to just start by sending you to YouTube to see one of my all-time favorite videos there, Pray for India by Anil Kant Ministries. I love this Bollywood-style call to prayer for this great nation! We watched it countless times throughout the two weeks because my kids all love it too. It’s an extremely catchy tune so when we weren’t actually watching it, there was pretty much always someone in the house with it stuck in their head singing it out loud! It was pretty much the soundtrack of our two weeks! 🙂
There are so many great books for kids about India! We read a bunch and I keep finding more that I want to read even though we’ve since moved on in our studies! I think we could do a whole year studying India through fiction! It’s sure a year this mama would enjoy!
So, first I’ll list the books we actually had time to read, and then I’ll add a second list of the ones we didn’t get to or found after we had finished our mini-unit but that we really want to read. This is as much to help me next time I teach this as it is to help you! 🙂 I have included Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.
Books We Read
- Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins – Bignificent really enjoyed this book, so even though it is about Bangladesh, I am including it. I hope you’ll forgive me!
- William Carey: Obliged to Go by Janet and Geoff Benge – You can hardly go wrong with this series from the Benges.
- Teresa of Calcutta: Serving the Poorest of the Poor by D. Jeanene Watson – I am also a big fan of the Sower Series of biographies!
- With Daring Faith: A Biography of Amy Carmichael by Rebecca Davis – I am always inspired by the life of Amy Carmichael and really enjoyed this first chance to share her with my daughters.
- Yummy Indian SuperMeals for Kids: Mini-Taster Edition! by Zainab Jagot Ahmed – This is a fun, short cookbook that gives an introduction for kids to Indian foods. We enjoyed it even though my kids are well-accustomed to Indian fare.
- Rajasthan: India’s ‘Land of Kings’ – A Photographic Journey by Mike and Jo Coad
- Even Donkeys Speak: & Other Stories of God’s Miracles in Asia by Mary McDonald – This was my favorite book of the unit! Full of inspiring stories of what God is doing now in the hearts of South Asians and written in a way that children can understand, enjoy, and engage with, this book is definitely worth a read even if you aren’t studying India!
- Bold Believers in India from Voice of the Martyrs Kids of Courage.com – We continue to learn much from this free series. We highly recommend it as it includes lots of great cultural information and coloring sheets for the littlest ones and activities and puzzles for the bigger ones.
Books We Want to Read Soon
- Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins – After reading Rickshaw Girl, I went to learn more about the author and ended up with a long list of books I want to read. Tiger Boy, like Rickshaw Girl, is suitable for middle-graders, but she also has a number of YA books about South Asian cultures that look really fun!
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
- Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – We just ran out of time to read these, but I know we will read them or listen to the free versions from librivox at some point in the not-too-distant future.
- India’s Street Kids Book Series by Kimberly Rae – I just found this series and can’t wait to read them myself. They look powerful, heart-wrenching, and inspiring. If they live up to expectations, I’ll be reviewing them over on Mommynificent.com in the not-too-distant future!
- If You Were Me and Lived in…India: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World (Volume 7) by Carole P. Roman – This is a series I’ve just recently come across, and I’m very impressed! We haven’t found a lot of books about the cultures we are studying this year that the kindergartner has enjoyed, but she loves this series!
I hope you have gotten a feel for what a wonderful two weeks we enjoyed learning about India! What resources would you suggest we add next time? I love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for journeying with us through India this week. Next up: Japan! To see the other stops we’ve made this year, check out our Children Around the World landing page!