For the month of April we are exploring the various aspects of Mother Earth, in honor of Earth Day which will be coming up on April 22nd. In addition to Earth Day we are also incorporating the Hindu festival and celebration of Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Ram.
A big part of having Toddler S at home (vs at school) has been to provide him Hindu culture and Gujarati language immersion which is hard to find in local schools here. For each month we have been trying to pick themes and concepts that he is interested in and adding some creativity to incorporate the various aspects of the Indian culture and the Hindu religion. This ranges from festivals, to Indian history to prayers (shloks, prarthna’s, bhajans) etc. Last year for Ram Navami, we focused more on the story and the character of Ram.
Last month, we transitioned from learning about colors in celebration of the Indian festival of Holi and Spring time to the phases of the moon and space because of a few books Toddler S picked out from the library. This worked out perfectly with my interest in introducing the Earth Day theme this month.
Since, Toddler S is already familiar with the story of Lord Ram, Laxman, Sita and Hanumanji, we drilled into some more details today on where in India Lord Ram’s story took place and tied it into our Mother Earth themed lessons on Land, Water and Air.
This a fun and easy Ram Navami activity you can do with your preschool aged toddler with things you already have at home. You can also improvise and other things to make your map of India too.
A Toddler friendly version of Ram’s journey through India:
If you haven’t already, introduce the characters of Ramayan to your toddler. Here is what we talked about to help Toddler S map Lord Ram’s journey through India and into Lanka. I simplified the story of Lord Ram for this specific lesson to focus on a few key points starting with where Lord Ram was born, the city of Ayodhya, how we was sent to the jungle where Sitama was lost and taken away by the demon Ravan. And how Ram bhagvan with the help of Hanumanji (and his friends) built a bridge to Lanka to help save Sitama and bring her back to Ayodhya.
Montessori inspired Ram Navami toddler activity: Land formation of India
Things you need:
Print out of India’s map or a hand draw it
marker or chalk (we used dry erase)
some sand or dirt (we used potting soil)
a tray or a cardboard box to use as your platform
creatively use toys/props from around the house to accessorize
How to prepare your activity:
Trace the map of India (and Sri Lanka) onto your tray or cardboard
Prepare a tray/bowl of the dirt/sand/soil with a scoop
Prepare some accessories for landmarking Ayodhya, the jungle and the bridge to Lanka (you can also hunt for these with your toddler if they are old enough, we did this step together)
We made a flag for Ayodhya with a toothpick
A block for the “bridge” to Lanka
Some wooden trees to create a jungle for where Ram was in exile
Have your toddler fill in the map with dirt/sand/soil (you can put glue on your base if you don’t want the land to move). This is a GREAT sensorial process as they explore the dirt. In addition, there is a lot of scooping and transferring as well
Share the story of Ram Bhagvan again, using your newly created map and have your toddler place all the accessories in the right places on the map
Have your toddler place all the materials back in it’s appropriate spot. We kept the accessories in a small bowl and we put the dirt in a separate tray, so he could do the complete activity again on his own (this works if you did not use glue on your base). If you used glue on your base, your child can do this activity again using all the accessories.
It does help if your toddler has already learned about continents and countries, but it is not a must to do this activity. You can easily talk about India and focus on Ram’s journey through India and into Lanka. This activity was a great way to learn more about the story of Ram Bhagvan and Indian geography. Remember, if you need a simpler activity for your toddler, check out what we did for Ram Navami last year when Toddler S, was two years old!