Safe, never expires
Safe, never expires
Sankranti or Pongal or Lohri or the many other names by which it is known across the country is a pan-Indian festival. It marks the end of winter solstice and the beginning of longer days. In some regions of the country, it marks time of harvest and bounty. Symbolically, it marks new beginnings, a time of transformation, cleansing, bountiful harvest.
However, introducing a lot of these concepts of toddlers and preschoolers can be difficult, so here is a list of 10 activities that you can do with your toddler and preschoolers.
Transferring: To set up this activity you need two pots/bowls, some rice or lentils, and a scoop. The toddler/preschooler transfers it from one bowl to another. A variation to this could be transferring turmeric water (Add some turmeric to water) from one bowl to another. It can be made more complex using a pipette or a medicine dropper.
Benefits: Hand eye coordination, fine motor skills
Crushing: To set up this activity, you need a mortar and pestle, dried turmeric pods and water. Pre-crush the turmeric pods a bit before giving it to the toddler/preschooler. Allow them to crush and pound to hearts content.
Benefits: to strengthen hand muscles to manipulate the mortar and pestle and in preparation for writing, independence and concentration.
Painting: To set up this activity, you need the crushed turmeric from the previous activity or just some turmeric powder mixed in water into a runny consistency. A paper plate cut into sun shape. A painting brush. Allow the toddler/preschooler to paint the sun in bright yellow.
Benefits: Fine motor skills, pre-writing skills
Gustatory discrimination: To set up this activity, you need the sweet Pongal or any sweet regional delicacy and the savoury Pongal or any savoury regional delicacy. Allow the toddler/preschooler to taste it and express their opinions on the taste. To add complexity, you can add textures to taste. For example, the hard candy with sesame seeds and jaggery eaten during Sankaranti. Educate them about different tastes.
Benefits: Flavour/taste discrimination, multi-sensorial experience
Olfactory discrimination: To set up this activity, you need different smelling spices. Black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, mint leaf etc. can be used for this activity. Allow the toddler/preschooler to sniff the spices and express the differences in their own way.
Benefits: Olfactory discrimination, multi-sensorial experience
Tactile discrimination: To set up this activity, you need rangoli powders, contact paper and black chart paper are optional. You can draw a rough design on the floor and allow the toddler/preschooler to colour in using the rangoli powders. Allow them to mix the colours and allow messy play. To contain the mess, you can tape up black chart on the floor using masking tape and then allow them to colour in using rangoli powders. Another alternative is to use contact paper to create a pattern. Allow the toddler/preschooler to sprinkle the rangoli powder on the adhesive side of the contact paper. The rangoli powder sticks to it and creates a non-messy colourful pattern.
Benefits: tactile discrimination, fine motor skills, messy play.
Visual discrimination: To set up this activity, use the i-spy printable for helping the toddler/preschooler learn the lexicon of this festival.
Benefits: Vocabulary building, language skills
Collage: To set up this activity, you need a paper plate, Fevicol or contact paper, coloured paper (craft paper or paper streamers cut into pieces). Just before the activity, prepare the cut out by smearing with glue or stick contact paper. Allow the toddler/preschooler to stick all the collage paper on the gluey surface. You can allow an older toddler or preschooler to apply glue on the cut-out as well.
Benefits: Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, building strength in hand muscles
Sorting: To set up this activity, you need 2-4 varieties of lentils and a muffin tray or bowls. Mix all the lentils and allow the toddler/preschooler to sort the different varieties of lentils based on type. For a younger toddler, use only 2 varieties like Chole, Rajma. For an older child, you can use 3-4 varieties of lentils. You can add complexity by encouraging older toddlers to use a tweezer to pick out and sort the lentils. In case you are worried about your toddler mouthing things, you can use fresh beans like peas or green chole, green toor beans that are in season during the time of Pongal festival.
Benefits: Visual discrimination, fine motor skills.
Lacing: To set up this activity, you need fresh mango leaves or foam sheets, hole punch, and a shoe lace. Punch holes into the fresh mango leaves or cut out foam sheets in the shape of leaves and punch holes in it. Encourage toddler/preschooler to lace through the leaves to create a door frame hanging or Thoran.
Benefits: Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination
This blog has been brought to you by the nestery in collaboration with Sai Sharvani. She runs a YouTube channel for early learning and parenting called Toddler Early Learning Bliss and Mommyhood. She is a doctor by profession but takes a keen interest in early childhood education and Montessori approach.
Find some free printables and a booklet about Pongal and Farming here.