These days, our home is abuzz with our country (India) related learning – reading, art, craft and exploration. Besides being a part of our ongoing learning about countries and cultures, this exclusive project is a meant as celebration of India's Independence Day, which is on August 15.
Before this, Pari had painted a life-size self portrait and designed her dress in the colours of India's national flag. In between she also made garlands out of different material and we discussed the significance of garlands in the Hindu culture.
And toward the end of last week, we read in-depth about –
The symbolic meaning of India's national flag
She learnt that:
- the Tri colours in the Indian national flag convey meaningful messages
- Saffron (or orange) stands for courage and sacrifice
- White conveys peace and truth
- Green signifies fertility
- the wheel at the centre is called the 'Dharma Chakra'
- the 24 spokes in the wheel stand for 24 hours in a day
- the blue of the spokes represent Ocean and Sky
To explain the Core Values of Courage, Sacrifice, Peace, Truth and Fertility, I pointed out and narrated examples from her own life, lives of friends and family and from the lives of national leaders- in a way that she can understand and appreciate.
And, when I asked her what she would like to make related to the National Flag; as I had expected – she said – the Chakra!
We discussed various ways she can make the Chakra or the Wheel
From using cardboard to paper plate and even plate that we use for meals – diverse ideas came up.
And, when I suggested if she would like to make something with playdough, she frowned. My idea really was to make our own playdough and then make the wheel out of it. But, she thought I was suggesting the ready-made, store-bought one. I was smiling internally to see that her inclination was to make something totally by herself. Perfect! What more could I want from my little girl!
But, the mention of our own homemade playdough sounded inspiring. So, off we went into the kitchen to look for options. There are so many ways to make your own playdough – cooked or uncooked. I chose to make the uncooked version so that she could do it as much as possible on her own and enjoy some sensory play. Also this version would allow her to use it right away without having to wait for it to cool down etc. Another intention was to make it in a way that it would harden nicely – just like clay.
We then discussed how to put together the wheel including the spokes. It struck to me that we have dozens of waste sketch pens or felt pens that we could use as spokes.
But, first, the dough.
For the uncooked version that we wanted to make, there are a gamut of recipes but we made our own recipe depending on what we had available. We had to make enough for two chakras because Pari's friend Sama would want to make one too.
I had her mix:
- 1 cup refined flour (maida) – 1 cup because that was all we had! We are not at all a refined-grain eating family and hence that quantity was lying around was the last time we made a shaving cream and flour playdough
- 3 cups rice flour. We could have used wheat flour too but I just wanted to experiment with texture. I think, rice flour, due to its granular texture lends itself well to the sensory experience
- 1 table spoon salt (some suggest more but once when we used more salt, the dough would not stick together)
- 1 table spoon PVS glue (fevicol)
- 1/4 cup fuller's earth. Now, I actually would have preferred to use plaster of paris but it went missing. So, I ended up using Fuller's earth or multani mitti thinking it will aid in quick hardening -which, it did, I think.
- Water. I can't say for sure how much Pari used because she would not let me be by her side all the while. Once I gave her the stuff, she preferred to do it all on her own. In between, when I came and checked, it was little extra soft and that's when I added some more rice flour
- 1 Teaspoon oil
The 'Chakra' in Making!
With all the experience of rolling out real rotis in the kitchen, with me, she had no difficulty rolling out this big a circle. She did it all by herself while I devoured her joy and clicked away to glory!
In between rolling, I shared some tips on how lifting and rotating can help get a good shape.
She placed the play dough circle on a stiff cardboard and outlined it so as to cut out a base for it.
This little girl has such an independent streak that she would not let me help her even with cutting this stiff cardboard. And, believe me, it was REALLY stiff for a 5.5 year old. Even for an older id. I am also noticing how much of a hard-worker she going on to become. Letting her do this part kind of freaked me out because this board was really hard and running the scissors through it was no small deal. Even the other girl, Sama, who's way older than Pari, wanted me to help her cut it as she could not persist. This reinforces my belief that it's all about the will power and self-drive. Besides, it also reinforces what I have always believed – that, we must praise our child for the effort he/she puts in rather than just praising the product of the effort.
She painted the play dough circle with white ceramic colour.
In the near -last phase of the project, she 'buried' the sketch pens – 24 of them to represent the 24 spokes in the chakra – into the playdough.
And, the final touch was – painting the sketch pens or the spokes – blue. I had her use deep blue ceramic colour for this. Ceramic colour leaves a brilliant glossy finish after drying and hence look fabulous.
After 2 days, today it's as hard as a rock – ready to be hung on the wall. We will make a ribbon loop at the back to hang it.