Today I’m continuing my Summer On Purpose series with a new country: India!
As a reminder, I’m skipping my usual Mila Mondays for the next several weeks. Instead, I’ll be posting some things we are doing to keep busy, maybe learn something new, and have fun this summer.
Each week we’ll choose a new country to explore through art projects, STEM activities, a reading list, a recipe to try, and a related movie or outing. We will probably look at maps & photos, learn a little about the culture & maybe a few words in the language spoken there, and read lots & lots.
I hope you’ll join us!
My brother and sister-in-law lived in India for a while several years ago. While they were there, she picked up the tradition of drawing chalk muggu wherever she went. (You can read about them here.) Following in her footsteps, we went out to the patio and made dot grids with our sidewalk chalk. Then we used the grid to help us make patterns of leaves, flowers, and other shapes.
They weren’t traditional by any stretch—it was kind of hard to explain the concept to them with mosquitoes buzzing around—but it was a fun activity nonetheless.
You can’t really help noticing the recurring geometric patterns + symmetry in Indian art + architecture, so our STEM project leaned heavily into STEAM territory. In fact, I’m not sure which of these projects was “art” and which was “math.” Does it matter?
I found some rubber stamps in the Target Dollar Spot in various geometric shapes which were just right for what I had in mind. First I folded their papers in half to create a line of symmetry. Then using the backs (because the stamp side had random sayings on them) I showed the girls how they could “build” a symmetrical “palace” like the Taj Mahal.
I know it’s a mausoleum. They don’t care; it looks like a castle.
The favorite book this week was definitely Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. He’s the same guy who wrote Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, which we’ve loved for years. It’s long—more like a short graphic novel than a picture book—but still a pretty quick read. The illustrations are GORGEOUS and the story is so interesting. I especially liked the index of characters at the end, because I tend to get Vishnu and Krishna and all those guys mixed up. It took two days to read, and when we finally finished it, Mila had this to say: “I liked that story. It’s sad and a little bit scary but also really good.”
I love to support “own voices” authors who tell stories from their culture + heritage, and this is such a beautiful example of that. I’ll be buying it soon to add to my world mythology collection.
A few more picture books about India that we’ve enjoyed (all book links are Amazon affiliates):
- Baya, Baya, Lulla-bay-a
- The Road to Mumbai
- Once a Mouse
- Monsoon Afternoon
- The Elephant’s Friend
- The Very Hungry Lion
- The Story of Little Babaji
- Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth
I would have loved to go to our favorite Indian restaurant, but that wasn’t going to work with our schedule. So instead, we’ll have homemade chicken coconut curry with jasmine rice and garlic naan. (A slight adaptation of this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe has long been a staple at our house.) For those who aren’t really into the curry (ahem, Margot) we’ll also have mango lassis. Yum yum yum.
Movie and outing ideas
Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to research Bollywood films to find one the girls would like. Although honestly, they’d probably be happy with any of them. Bright colors + dancing + great music? What’s not to love? Maybe I’ll find something on Netflix, but in a pinch we can always watch The Jungle Book. We still haven’t seen the live action remake, so that might be fun.
My sister-in-law brought me a sari when they came home from India and I still haven’t learned to wear it properly. I’m sure the girls would love to play dress-up with me and figure it out. I also thought we could hit up one of the Indian markets around town and shop for spices and things. So many options this week!
I’ll be updated the links below as we continue through our Summer On Purpose. I’d love to hear any suggestions or additions you might have, either for the countries we’ve already covered or for new ones going forward. Share your ideas in the comments!
All posts in this series: