Belan Boat for Baby Krishna

Janamashtmi, the birth day of Lord Krishna, brings back a vivid and happy childhood memory of spending hours creating arts scenes from his life in the front verandah (porch) of houses with neighbourhood friends across age groups. While this tradition has died over the years in India like many others which involve “real play” with other kids, I decided to indulge in an act of art creation with my son to relive the memory and keep him engaged on his day off from school. His existing love for vehicles, our recent trip to Kerela where he made merry on the boat, and, more importantly, depiction of boat in most art scenes of Krishna, made me choose the vehicle for our first act of joint creation.

IMG_20160825_103721 (1).jpgTo begin with, I encouraged him to empty out the craft items created out of everyday objects from a cardboard box and hunt for coloured matchsticks as they would fit well in the form and help him learn a new shape – rectangle. While he excitedly started handing the sticks one by one to me for pasting calling out yellow rectangle, orange rectangle, the joy lasted only for 10 sticks. Soon after he started climbing on the cardboard box to pull a nearby lamp, taking on the naughty child avatar of Krishna.

To distract him from his mischievous actIMG_20160825_103039 (1)s, I asked him to get some atta (round wheat ball) from the refrigerator. Though he loved the opportunity of rolling it on the chakla (wooden board) with belan (round implement used to make chapatis) and tracing the shape of letter b (for boat) with his black magnet, he found greater joy in picking the tiny black dals and sticking them one by one with his fingers in the b shaped cavity created by the object.

Surprised and delighted at seeing him enjoy getting his hands messy, I encouraged him to complete the boat creation by dipping the sticks in fevicol instead of handing them clean. To add a finishing touch, we pasted a big rectangle (ice cream stick) in the middle inspired by the cover image on Oliver Jeffer’s Lost and Found and his love for umbrella. When I checked the time at the end, it had been more than an hour – the longest he had been engaged in a particular activity, but perhaps it would have been more fun and lasted longer if there were other kids involved in the creation.

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Learning Hindi with Russian Mama

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Though it has been more 3 years since I have been living in India, it was not until a year ago, when my baby girl Shannon was born that I felt a strong need to learn Hindi. The realisation hit me that very soon my child will start communicating in the language I don’t even understand. She is an Indian baby growing up in India, so naturally Hindi will become her first and foremost language. While I started making step-by-step progress in my regular Hindi classes, my Hindi alphabet books have quickly become favourites of my 11 month old daughter.

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To give her the freedom to choose and decide for herself what she wants to read, I have organised her books on lowest shelves of our television cabinet. While she is not attracted to the TV, about 3-4 times in a day she loves crawling over and pulling out one of the colourful books from the small library I have created for her. Often when Shannon would pull out the Hindi alphabet book because of its big bright images, my  nanny would happily start reciting the alphabet for her: “Ko” “Kho” “Ga” “Gha.” My girl was fascinated with “Ko” for “Kobutar” (pigeon) and “Kho” for “Khargosh” (rabbit). When we started showing her some Kobutars in our community park (unfortunately we do not have any Khargoshs), she was quick to relate to the imagery in the book. Now she is pointing herself to any bird she sees outside and even on her nanny’s t-shirt and uttering her first “Ko..! Ko..!” to show us these amazing creatures.
IMG-20160809-WA0006It was fascinating to observe “the birth of a word” for Shannon, how she moved from watching the bird in the book, to hearing me pronounce its name, to recognizing this bird in real life, and then trying to name it herself. Even though it is just a simple “Ko,” for her this is a huge step-an ability to communicate with us through language. Shannon is still choosing this alphabet book at least once a day to read, but now we are trying to read short stories in Hindi. As I try to read and understand the stories, Shannon listens in and will be trying to speak more soon as we go on this learning journey together.

– Katerina Folkman, mother of a 11 month old girl