Whenever my preschool curriculum is focused on a country, it always explodes in the best of ways.  Children are captivated as soon as we open our Big Book Atlas and view our satellite map.  We sing the ‘Days of the Week’ song in the native language.  We learn about food, customs, art, animals… it is always an endless list.

January was learning about India, and it was exciting.  Here are photos of what happened:

Our hallway display includes making tigers by cutting and gluing stripes, painting elephants and adding jewels, watercoloring the map of India, real peacock feathers, and writing words to label the art.

The Taj Mahal.
Children carefully cut and placed tin foil onto the structure.

Dressing up like a tiger.

Reading to Gloria about tigers.

Balancing a peacock feather.
This works on the palm of the hand or on the fingertip.

Rolling modeling clay into balls
and pressing them onto the map of India.

The book we read, “Look What Came From India”,
had a picture of the same elephant we have.

We made an authentic Indian snack, Cucumber Raita.  Yum!

Our favorite book is a classic,”The Story of Little Babaji” by Helen Bannerman.

The Story of Little Babaji

Helen Bannerman wrote this story in 1899.  When I was a child, I loved “Little Black Sambo”, which was an adaptation of this book.  That book was banned, and the original, based in India, was reborn.  Thank goodness.  Not only is it a great story, it is so beloved in my classroom that we hosted a play performance.  When a children’s book has a repeating phrase that encourages children to join the reader and say aloud; “Little Babaji, I’m going to eat you up”, it cements their love for the book.

Children love this book!  We read it over and over again in January.  Our play performance was spontaneous and so much fun.  After all, when a book is popular (and good), I need to do more for the children.  In teacher language we call that ’emergent curriculum’, which means paying attention to what children love, and turning that into more learning.

And a play performance based on the book was just the thing!

First, we picked parts, writing everything out on the whiteboard.  We had two Babaji’s, one Mamaji, one Papaji, and the tigers picked who wanted the blue trousers, green umbrella, etc.  Next, we staged Babaji’s house, the bazaar, and the jungle.  Excitement was building!

Here’s the thing-  I let children take control, which can be scary for some teachers.  If I planned everything, then where is the learning and the fun?  Where is the opportunity for children to try something new, be brave, and be creative?

Never underestimate children, as they always rise to the occasion when they are given an opportunity.  And they did!  When I tried to ‘help’ Harry with the words to say, he glared at me and said, “I know!”  Of course he did.  I knew better than to help, when help wasn’t needed.  I owned up and apologized.

For a teacher, stepping back and watching is often surprising.  Children who are quiet or are followers can become leaders in a play performance.  It happens often.  Had I given the quiet child a low key part in the play, their chance to shine and grow would never have happened.  Thank goodness I pay attention!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in children's books, Diversity, Early Education, geography, Inspiration, Learning About the World, picture books, play performances, preschool, self esteem, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to India

  1. You really make the lessons to a virtual journey. I have this never seen before, and its fantastic. It is teaching multiculturality in its best sense. These are also great tipps for teachers, Jennie. Thank you! Have a nice weekend! xx Michael

  2. Ritu says:

    I love it and it’s sparked their interest!

  3. beetleypete says:

    A great combination of culture, nature, and geography. If you decide to do England, please feature some castles! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    What a wonderful way to learn about a country at an early age.

  5. This looks like such a fun way to learn!! (I’m actually feeling a little envious. 🙂 )

  6. This is truly a wow! Kids will remember this forever. 🥰

  7. Their art projects look wonderful, and the play sounds fun and a lovely way for the lessons and fasciation with India to stick with them forever.

  8. What a great imersion, Jennie.

  9. quiall says:

    Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They may not understand but they are intuitive and incredibly resilient. Yes they need guidance but if we have the courage to sit back and watch we may learn something.

  10. Tigers and Taj Mahalls – what’s not to like?

  11. Darlene says:

    The perfect way to teach kids about another country. My Miss Roll would be so pleased to see you do this. I only wish I was a child in your class!

  12. Don Ostertag says:

    Namaste, Jennie.
    I always liked Little Black Sambo, too.

  13. petespringerauthor says:

    Another brilliant lesson. I know an experienced teacher like you gets it. It’s one of the things that so many not in education fail to understand. I recently read about a district that wanted the teachers to write out their lesson plans for the whole year in advance. That’s the kind of thing that makes me crazy!!! Kids drive much of the curriculum, and you are wise enough to understand that. When we see those light bulb moments and eyes aglow, we run with it. Good teachers don’t suddenly stop because it’s not in their lesson plan!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, yes, YES! Thank you, Pete. I can’t imagine writing out the curriculum for the entire year. By the time October rolls around, it would all change. Two years ago we had a group of artists, last year it was a group of builders, and this year it is a group of puzzlers. There’s no way to know that in September. Here’s to emergent curriculum and putting children first! I dearly wish I had been in your class…

  14. Jim Borden says:

    I think I would have learned more about India in one month in your classroom than I have learned in my 64 years of living! By the way, is that the same child who was reading to Gloria in a previous post?

  15. The two books I think of first when I think of India, Jennie, are The Secret Garden and A Passage to India. I have a number of blogging friends who live in India and there posts and travels are very interesting.

  16. So lovely to see how you explore a country with the children in your class. I enjoyed this post.

  17. My Rollercoaster Journey says:

    This is amazing! I wish my son had a teacher like you

  18. Neetu Kenny says:

    Lovely post! I have always liked your way of teaching.

  19. Lovely to see and be in the class. And very happy to know aptly various colours coming to table with my country 🙂

    Narayan x

  20. Pingback: India | Sharing Positive Links to inspire. Original Windows From Heaven Journey Pics included.

  21. Lakshmi says:

    Wow.. this is a great way to learn!

  22. Lekhak says:

    You are a fantastic teacher ! Lucky kids and lucky parents !

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