Sunday, October 30, 2011

India crafts: India flag

The Whirl Girl's papa jumped into help with this craft, using all sorts of Indian dry foods to make an India flag.  And The Whirl Girl's cousin was here to make one too. 

We had so much fun with the Chinese rainbow rice activity, that we replicated it India-style.  We used red/orange daal (lentils) for the orange, moong daal for the green, white rice for the white, and tea leaves for the blue/black. 

  • white rice
  • orange daal
  • green moong daal
  • tea leaves
  • glue
  • card stock
  • cardboard (optional)
  • clear packing tape (optional)

 Step One: Glue the cardstock to the cardboard.  Draw flag in pencil.  Add glue to wheel.

Step Two: Pour tea leaves on wheel and shake off.

 Step Three: Add glue to the top stripe. 

Step Four: Sprinkle orange daal on top of glue.

 Step Five: Repeat with green daal for the bottom stripe and white rice for the middle. 

 Step Six: Wave your flag!  
(We later covered ours with packing tape so that all of the daals/rice wouldn't fall off).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Indian music: Bhangra

Bhangra is a kind of music and dance from Punjab, a state in Northern India.  It is infectious and almost impossible not to dance to.  It involves a lot of jumping, shoulder shaking, and waving your hands in the air. 

Listen to or watch Rang De Basanti, from the movie of the same name.  It's also downloadable on iTunes. 

For inspiration, you can also check out this bhangra video, from a competition in the US. 

And this series by Pargat Singh Assandh on youtube teaches individual moves.

Get your bhangra groove on!

Monday, October 24, 2011

India crafts: Mehndi Handprints

And we're back!  The Whirl Girl has been joined by a Twirl Guy, now almost two weeks old.  The Whirl Girl is eager for him to join us in our project-making, and I barely have the heart to tell her that it will be a long while before he will be able to do so.  Our crafts and cooking time has been limited but we're forging ahead with a couple more projects for the month.

First up is mehndi hand prints.  Mehndi or henna is used to decorate women's hands in India for festive occasions - especially holidays and weddings.  Designs are drawn free-form using a tube of paste made from henna leaves and come in varying degrees of elaborateness.  There are often flower and peacock motifs.

photo from National Geographic
I thought it would be fun for The Whirl Girl to draw her own mehndi designs, so we cut out her own handprints on construction paper and she used colored pencils to color Indian-inspired designs.  I printed out a couple of templates from this site for examples.

My seven-year-old niece is visiting and she made some too.   It was just as much fun for her age group as The Whirl Girl's.

  • cardstock
  • colored construction paper
  • crayons or colored pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • templates for inspiration

Step One: Trace handprint on colored paper.  

Step Two: Color in designs on the handprints.

Step Three: Cut out handprints.

Step Four: Glue on to cardstock.

All done!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

India crafts: Paper plate tiger

Time for some animal crafts!  We've made an elephant, a tiger and a peacock puppet out of paper plates, inspired by posts on Activity Village.

Here's the tiger to join his jungle friends.

  • 1 paper plate (we used a small ones)
  • orange and black paint
  • orange paper
  • wooden chopstick or something similar
  • glue-on eyes or black paper
  • cotton ball or black paper (for nose)
  • pipe cleaners

 Step One: Paint the plate orange. 

Step Two: Paint black stripes.

Step Three: Glue ears, eyes, nose and whiskers.

Step Four: Tape chopstick to make a puppet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

India crafts: Paper plate peacock

Time for some animal crafts!  We've made an elephant, a tiger and a peacock puppet out of paper plates, inspired by posts on Activity Village.  Of the three, the peacock is probably the most work.

  • 2 paper plates (we used a small ones)
  • blue/turquoise/green paint
  • green/blue paper
  • wooden chopstick or something similar
  • glue-on eyes or black paper (we used beads)
  • decorations (optional) - we used cut up pieces of sparkly fabric and ribbons

Step One: Paint the plates turquoise.   
Step Two: Glue the plates together to make head and body.

Step Three: Cut out paper feathers.  We had 8 feathers, from 2 sheets of paper.

Step Four: Decorate the feathers.  

Step Five: Glue feathers to the body/head.

Step Six: Add eyes, nose and whatever else you're in the mood for.  (The Whirl Girl wanted her peacock to have a necklace).  Tape on stick to the back to make it a puppet. 

Introduce to your other Indian jungle friends.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

India music: Bollywood songs

There's a lot of Bollywood dance parties in our house, pretty much every night.  The Whirl Girl has loved Bollywood songs ever since she was a baby and now she can sing and dance along. 

Most of the music you hear on the radio comes from Bollywood movies, which are filled with song-and-dance numbers.  Here's three of our favorites.  You can watch them on YouTube to pick up a few new moves, or download on iTunes to get your groove on.

Bum Bum Bole
from the movie Taare Zameen Par, about an inspiring teacher set in a classroom full of kids

Maahi Ve
from the movie Kal Ho Na Ho, the ultimate wedding song and dance

from the movie Lagaan, a song about friendship set in an Indian village

(All three movies are recommended too for grown-ups and older kids). 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

India crafts: Paper plate elephant

Time for some animal crafts!  We're venturing into the Indian jungle to make an elephant, a tiger and a peacock puppet out of paper plates, inspired by posts on Activity Village.  We tried to do all of them on a rainy morning, which I wouldn't really recommend.  The Whirl Girl loves her projects and even by the end of it, she was sick of them and ready to just play.  But individually, they shouldn't be too much work. 

First up, an elephant.  You can tell that she's Indian because she's all decorate like elephants in India often are.  Like this one (photo from National Geographic):


  • paper plate (we used a small one)
  • gray (or black and white) paint
  • gray paper
  • wooden chopstick or something similar
  • glue-on eyes or black paper
  • decorations (optional)

 Step One: Paint the plate gray.  

Step Two: Add decorations.  We cut out paper and ribbons that I had. 

Step Three: Glue on trunk and eyes. 

Step Four: Glue on ears.  The Whirl Girl decided these needed some decoration too, this time with crayons.

Step Five: Attach chopstick to the back to make it a puppet.

 Introduce to other Indian jungle friends.  

Diwali Tour of Singapore's Little India

Deepavali - or Diwali - is just around the corner.  Your kids may be learning about it in school, or at least know that it's a public holiday here in Singapore.

I had a couple of friends ask for our recommendations for a Diwali tour of Little India with their kids, so I thought I would share it here for local readers.  We visit Little India on an almost weekly basis and especially enjoy it during this festive time. 

Be prepared for it to be more crowded than most other places in Singapore and for the traffic laws to be a little bit looser - but that's part of the experience. Almost like India itself!

I would recommend going around 5:30 or 6:00pm.  You can see the market and have dinner before it gets dark and then see the lights as it gets dark around 7:00 before heading back home to put the kids to sleep.  

First Stop: The Diwali Bazaar on Campbell Street. 

The market is off of Serangoon Road, just opposite of Tekka Market. The street is closed down so you don't have to worry about cars.

Here you'll find all sorts of colorful Indian goodies: wall hangings, rangoli stickers, crunchy Indian snacks, Hindu idols, bangle bracelets, peacock feathers, diya candles, and more! There are also a number of mehndi artists.  You can pick your design from a book they have. For kids, it won't be more than a few dollars.

shop selling items used for puja (prayer ceremony)
all sorts of colorful goodies from India
mehndi/henna artists
diyas (claypot candles) are traditionally placed around the house for Diwali; they come in all shapes and sizes and are filled with oil and a string and then lit

Second Stop: Dinner at Ananda Bhavan, a South Indian restaurant at 58 Serangoon Road.  

When you're leaving the Diwali Bazaar, turn right on Serangoon Road and the restaurant is just up the street on the right side.

The Whirl Girl's favorite is Plain Thosai, a slightly sourdough-y crispy crepe-like treat made from rice and daal (lentil) flours.  It is served, like most of the other South Indian foods, with 3 chutneys (coconut, tomato and one other) and a spicy vegetable stew called sambhar.  The thosai itself isn't spicy. 

Our other favorites:
  • Masala Thosai (same as the above, but with spicy potatoes in the middle) or Rava Masala Thosai (made with semolina flour);
  • Oothapam, which is kind of like a savory pancake, but thicker and made from a different batter than dosa
  • Appam, which has a little sweet taste to it, and is served with orange sugar and coconut milk.  You can also request a spicy coconut-milk based spicy stew called kuruma instead (recommended!). 
  • Thali, a big pile of rice and a bunch of different indian vegetable curries and daals/lentils.
Most things are less than $5, so you can easily order a couple of things to try.

Rava Masala dosa, with sambhar and chutneys

Third Stop: The lights on Serangoon Road.

If you've timed it right, when you come out from dinner, it will be dark and the street will be all lit up.

Fourth Stop: Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple at 141 Serangoon Rd

If your kids still have any energy left, continue walking up Serangoon Rd (away from Bukit Timah).  The Hindu temple is on the left, after about a block and a half.  (Note: the temple is closed in the afternoon, but open in the mornings and evenings). 

It is a temple for Kali, the Goddess of Destruction, but like at most Hindu temples, there are representations of many gods.  Have the kids try to find Ganesha, the elephant god of good luck.  Feel free to walk around and observe all of the activity, just be sure to leave your shoes out front with the others.  Some of the things you'll see: Priests offering prashad (blessings) to devotees.  Diyas (candles) being lit.  People praying to different deities.  

a view from across the street
activity inside the temple
priests (the men on the left without shirts)
bananas offered as prashad (devotees offer a donation and receive prashad which they eat as a blessing from the priests and gods)
one of the many Ganeshas in the temple
That's the end of the tour!  If it's lit a spark of curiousity in your kids, check out other other India-related activities and picture book recommendations on this site.  I'll be posting more as the month continues.  

And if you have any questions about what you saw, please post them in the comments.  I'll ask our resident Hindu experts (aka my Hindu parents-in-law) and respond. 

Happy Diwali!