5 Easy Indian Arts And Crafts Ideas For Kids
Indian arts and crafts are a reflection of the country's rich culture and history. What better way to teach your kids about their roots, than by involving them in creating some art of their very own!
By Siddiqha Naseem and Vidya Nesarikar • 10 min read
Indian arts and crafts are all around us. Be it on walls, cutlery, courtyards or doorsteps. Yet surprisingly, this does not percolate to children’s activities in school or hobby clubs, unless it’s a festival or culture day.
“When a child works with materials that have Indian motifs and designs, he learns to understand the value of social and religious customs of his culture,” says Arundhati Swamy, Counsellor and Head of Parent Engagement Programme at ParentCircle
While the bigger picture is of course for our tiny tots to gain an understanding of our rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship. The opportunities for learning are hard to be ignored.
Learning Indian arts and crafts, connect them with nature, teaches them about village life, symmetry and design. And of course, watching them sit in one place focused on an activity is a joy beyond words.
“Indian crafts introduce children to a variety of colours, patterns and designs that are associated with different Indian festivals and customs. An interesting way to build your child’s knowledge about these is to narrate short Indian stories to her, as she works on her crafts,” she adds.
Here’s a guide to teaching your children some easy art and handicrafts. Make sure to save some space on walls and mantels, to hang up these masterpieces made by your little artist.
1. Pot painting
With living spaces changing from houses to high rise buildings, the connection with nature is diminishing. What better way to help kids connect with mother Earth than by painting Indian designs on mud pots? Interestingly, pottery is one of man’s earliest inventions and dates to the Neolithic age.
Show them pictures of traditional pottery art like khavda pottery from Gujarat or blue pottery designs from Rajasthan. Explain the significance of pots in communities, for instance, a new pot is bought every year and decorated on Pongal festival to make sakkarai pongal. After the culture download, get hold of a set of earthen tea cups or bowls and get busy painting.
- Clay pot
- Acrylic paint
- Different-sized brushes
Step 1: Wash your clay pot.
Step 2: Smoothen the clay with sandpaper to remove any rough spots. This will even out the bumps.
Step 3: Use the acrylic and paint some interesting designs on the pot. You can either refer to some image or let loose your child’s imagination.
Step 4: Use small bristle brushes to give the final details.
Step 5: Let the pot dry before you use it.
While some cultures in Asia and Africa adorn front doors with masks and busts, to ward off the evil eye and bring good luck, the toran, a banner or garland like the decorative piece made usually of mango leaves is unique to India, as they are said to have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Torans are a common sight during festivals and weddings. This is a great activity for pre-schoolers for hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. All you need is a thick string and mango leaves. It's simple to make, and not much of a mess to clear up later too! Do not fret if mango leaves are not available, you can make torans from sheets of paper or beads as well.
- Mango leaves or any other sturdy leaves with a stalk, or thick sheets of colour paper
- Thick string
Step 1: Take about 15-20 mango leaves
Step 2: Fold and punch a hole with the stalk of the leaf to create a loop.
Step 3: Repeat for all leaves.
Step 4: Measure some thick string as wide as the door
Step 5: String the leaves onto the string through the loop.
Step 6: Hang up on the entrance door!
3. Block print napkins
Indian block prints from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat are popular the world over. It is one of the oldest and slowest techniques of creating prints on textiles. The designs often draw inspiration from nature and usually are of leaves, flowers or animals. Here are some DIY tips to get your tot block printing at home.
- A piece of wood
- 3mm foam board
- Acrylic paint
- Hot glue
Step 1: Choose a pattern. With the help of a marker draw your design on the foam board.
Step 2: Help your child cut out the pattern.
Step 3: Stick the patterns on the wooden board with hot glue. Remember, the images will be reversed while printing, so (if you are working with two or more designs) stick the designs in reverse order.
Step 4: The block is ready to print. Now, (acrylic) paint the foam with the desired colour.
Step 5: Make impressions on the napkin and let them dry before use.
4. Warli art
A tribal art form that originates from Jawahar, Maharashtra. The hypnotic triangular circular white designs usually adorn ochre mud huts. Warli draws its inspiration from everyday life. Children can create these designs on brown parchment paper, pots, walls (after some mastery) and on t-shirts for that uber cool look. Warli painting kits are also available in stationery stores these days. The evolution from tribal to retail is complete!
- Dark coloured handmade/parchment paper (preferably brown, red or orange)
- White acrylic paint
- Paintbrush/White sketch pen
Step 1: Observe traditional designs and draw a warli design with a pencil on the handmade paper.
Step 2: Fill in with white colour.
Step 3: Hang up on walls or turn it into handmade greeting cards.
The beautiful intricate geometric designs that adorn South Indian doorsteps have many a lesson to teach young children. Be it an example of joining the dots, memory, mathematics and symmetry in design, kolam is a great exercise for fine motor skills. The pincer grasp used to hold the kolam powder and make the design, steadies the hand. While learning kolams may be complicated for the little ones, they can chip in to fill the kolam designs with colour powder or flowers. Do it in the morning like the way it is traditionally done. This is a good way to get the daily dose of Vitamin D as well. Encourage kids to keep a book of designs that they learn.
- White and coloured rangoli/kolam powder
- Chalk, pencils for beginners and paper
- The flat surface on the ground, cleaned and slightly moist
Step 1: Observe traditional designs.
Step 2: Draw designs on paper.
Step 3: Practise on the ground.
Step 4: Fill in with coloured powder or flowers.
“When your child sees the outcome of his efforts, he has the satisfaction of having created something that he will value even more. While he works with various crafts and styles, he is exposed to different cultural ideas which help in opening his mind to diversity,” says Arundhati Swamy.
Give your kiddos a chance to explore their creativity and their Indian heritage. Try out these easy-to-make craft ideas to teach them the art of crafting today.
About the authors:
Written by Siddiqha Naseem and Vidya Nesarikar on 30 April 2019.
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