Republic Day 2020 (Image designed by Gargi Singh)
By Kuhoo Gupta
Montessori activities and crafts are highly beneficial in multiple ways for children's development. Montessori specifically emphases upon self-directed activities, hands-on learning and collaborative play. And while Republic Day is around the corner, it is the best time to give our children the opportunity to cultivate some amazing India-themed activities which will assist them to comprehend and explore more about the essence of India's Constitution and its importance.
January 26, 1950 gave India a massive paradigm shift with the enforcement and establishment of India's Constitution. As Republic Day comes closer every year, our toddlers and many other children often tend to get confused between Independence Day and Republic Day. As parents, we can explain that while India got its independence from the British rule on August 15, 1947, it did not become a republic by adopting its newly written Constitution until January 26, 1950.
So let us see some hands-on Montessori inspired activities and crafts that you can do with your toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners and elder children.
While it is a national holiday, let us make sure our kids witness the flag-hoisting ceremony somewhere and tell them about the Republic day parade that happens in front of India Gate in Delhi. And these can be used as conversation starters for more activities that give them a hands-on experience about the entire celebration.
First things first! Expose your children to India-themed books. The ideas in these can make for engaging conversations and also be informative.
Matching states of India
Toddlers would not be able to understand what exactly a state is but this game becomes a great visual discriminating activity for them in general. This quiz game is a great visual aid that makes learning the states and union territories much easier.
Learning regional dances
I have picked up foam sheets and a sheet on Indian dances from a local stationery shop. Cut some of the main regional dances and laminate at home to form cards. The activity is to place these cards on the right state. It is a great way to expose kids to the rich cultural diversity in India.
Pretend/Free Play & Gross Motor
I have curated and organised a setup of the Republic Day parade using my son's building blocks and some army-themed figurines from a pretend play set. It has army tanks, soldiers, etc. I have also placed regional dance cards depicting the "jhankis" seen in the parade. Let this be a free play session to kids & let them explore this by themselves. Your child might ask many question - "What is this?", "Who is this?" and "Where did this come from?" So, be prepared to answer a lot of questions with this setup.
Also take up the fundamental "gross motor" activity with your child - doing the march-past. It builds a sense of rhythm, discipline and coordination in children. And this should be fun too if you can play toy drums along with the march-past at home.
Architecture of India
I picked up two sheets depicting various architectural marvels of India from a stationery shop. I laminated one sheet as it was and cut individual pieces from another and laminated them to form cards. The activity is to match them, again a phenomenal way to expose kids to the grand architectural marvels we have in India.
A sense of rhythm with the National Anthem
Listening to music is great for kids and adults alike. Why not introduce rhythm along with our National Anthem this Republic Day? You can sing Jana Gana Mana and play any percussion instruments like drums, dholak along with your child. It is great fun for kids to play musical instruments. Even if you do not have any instrument, your kitchen utensils and spoons would serve the same purpose.
Boys and vehicles are inseparable, I believe! For that matter, I have also seen many girls obsessed with cars. Toddlers are in very perceptive to learning everything they see - vehicles, pillows, vegetables, anything. So you can make a tricolour using your child's vehicles to give them some fascinating experience of learning.
Flag making and colouring
We can also make the Indian flag using a ruler and Stockmar block crayons (a typical Waldorf art supply). So just keep a thick paper sheet attached to the writing pad (as a practical tool to support the whole creation) to get colours on it. The Indian national flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the nation, which imbibe the right values in your child.
Air show painting
To simulate the air show that takes place during the Republic Day parade, I used a mixture of all-purpose flour, water and food color to create saffron, white and green. Then my son poured the paints on paper and used miniature jet planes to form patterns with these colours. We talked about how fighter planes fly in the sky and make colourful patterns. After that, we also watched YouTube videos for more realism.
(The writer is founder of The K Junction.)