With Navaratri around the corner, you must be wondering how to tell your child about Navaratri. Well, the Montessori approach has an answer. In a Montessori setup, children are exposed to different cultures and countries in a very hands-on way.
When I wanted to let my 19 months old toddler experience the beautiful festive spirit of Navaratri and Dassera, I refreshed the Montessori learning principles in my head and planned out activities for my son, according to his age, skill set and interest. Now, I simply can’t wait to share them with you all! All these activities have been chosen such that they represent the culture and traditions of this 10 day festival. You can easily tweak them according to your child’s interest and age or even a bit as per your own culture!
I am going to give my son some flowers to take out the petals and then we are going to make a flower rangoli on a wide bowl filled with water. A lovely sensory experience.
I hand drew figures of Durga Mata on a thick piece of paper and put it in a transparent plastic cover. Along with it, there is a pack of colored bindis. The activity is to peel off the bindi & stick at the appropriate place. Since this drawing is inside a plastic sheet, the bindis can be peeled off from the face and reused. If your child knows colors, you can revise them asking to peel off a specific color bindi. This is a great way to tell your child about the grandeur and strength of the Goddess
One-on- one correspondence is a very important pre Maths skill. This activity involves putting one flower in each of the cavities of the container shown in the image. It is an upcycled chocolate container. You know how Montessori cannot be expensive always! For older toddlers, you can give a clothespin to pick up a flower and put it in the cavities.
Ravan, the mythical primary antagonist in the Ramayana cannot be missed in Dassera themed activities. Counting lessons go beautifully with the ten heads of Ravan. I have just kept it as a number matching activity for my son’s age. It is a hand drawn Ravan and wooden numbers to match. You could also do shape or alphabet (upper and lower case matching) or color matching activity on the similar lines, and yet expose the picture and qualities of Ravan to your child.
Sorting is another important pre-Maths skill. Again using the marigold flowers, the activity is to sort yellow and orange flowers. You could also sort the flowers according to their size if that interests your child. For younger toddlers, you could sort flowers and leaves.
Making toran from mango leaves and hanging it on the main door of the house is a Dassera tradition. The activity is to punch holes in the mango leaves using a single punching machine and threading a lace through the leaves.
I have used these sticks from our nature walks. These will be painted with washable tempera paints and we will play some dandiya with them too!
I got these lovely books titled ‘Ravan’ & ‘Ravan Remedy’. We were reading one of them, seeing the Ravan in fire, my son quickly got the fire engine from another room. Talk about kids and their imagination!
Although each activity has an element of culture in it, this is a DIY bow and arrow that I quickly made using hoola hoop connectors & a long piece of cloth. We are going to use this as a prop while reading Dassera books and do some free play with it.
Navratri means nine days of fasting for many people. This means fruit sellers are busy these days. I took out this lovely toy balance and fruits for an open ended play/pretend play.
Not to mention, while doing the activities and otherwise, I will talk about the festival in general with my son. The activities just reinforce what we talk in general, in addition to various skills that are developed. For older toddlers, you can also talk about the states of India along with any India foam puzzle, how they celebrate this festival . For example, Dandiya is a speciality of Gujarat, Durga Pooja of West Bengal, Golu of South India among others. Children can also help in the kitchen in their capacity while you prepare dishes specifically for the festival.
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