Students in Viki Hymer’s kindergarten class rode on a magic carpet of imagination to India for a three-day study on cultural diversity.
“We had more fun,” Hymer said. “It was interesting for me because I got to learn some things I didn’t know.”
Neena Shah, M.D., and Tarleton State University student Mahendra Dia visited the students to help teach about their home country of India.
Dia entertained the children with a beautiful slide show, according to Hymer. “He (Dia) showed us places he had lived and pictures of him riding camels and the people and their dress.”
Hymer said a favorite book for the unit was “How the Camel Got His Hump” by Rudyard Kipling.
Children received a bindi dot for their foreheads, traditionally a symbol of marriage, but now used for purely decorative purposes, according to Shah. Along with the bindi dot, Shah brought a henna paste for each child to experience hand decorations and designs.
Shah even brought Indian foods for the students to sample. One was a crispy cake called Sonpapdi made with pistachio nuts. Another was a chip similar to banana chips and the goodies were washed down with a cup of mango juice.
Shah gave each child a bangle bracelet from India.
Hymer said the children kept a folder of their work for the unit and it was brimming with pictures of peacocks, which is India’s national bird and the national flower, which is the lotus. Students also made the orange, white and green flag of India and learned the wheel in the center symbolizes the “wheel of law.”
The boys and girls made bracelets to exchange as they learned about the Indian holiday Rakhi, a festival held each August for brothers and sisters to celebrate sibling relationships.
“Sisters make or buy beautiful bracelets and place them on their brothers,” Hymer said. “In return, the brother pledges to always take care of the sister. In our case, we pledged our friendship when we exchanged bracelets.”
The New Year celebration of Diwali was introduced to the students. The children made door hangers known as Rangoli, which welcome visitors during the celebration, Hymer said.
The students were interested in the fact that the games played in the United States such as chess and Parcheesi originated in India.
Of course, a study on India would not be complete without the most famous love story from the country about the Taj Mahal. Students were fascinated with the elaborate building the King built to entomb his beloved wife, Hymer said.
Hymer said Shah also shared a book with the children that she reads to her own children.
“The stories all have good morals,” Hymer said. “It helps parents to teach good citizenship.”
Hymer said this was the first time for her to teach a unit on India but it turned out so well that next year she will probably add days.