How do you plan to celebrate Gandhi Jayanthi? Why not use the occasion to make the Mahatma and his message of peace, truth and non-violence more real for your child? Here are some fun activities.
By Poongkodi Jose
"If we are to teach real peace in this world…we shall have to begin with the children." — Mahatma Gandhi
Today's children hardly know about Gandhiji. Gandhi Jayanthi, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, is the perfect time to introduce the Father of the Nation — Mahatma Gandhi. The day is also meant to honour his role in India's freedom struggle. Why not involve your children in activities that will help them better understand Gandhiji's message of peace, non-violence and his unflinching regard for truth?
Create some fun games, have some dress-up ideas or do something that will make the day exciting for children and also, motivate them to learn more about Gandhiji. Re-capture and recreate some significant moments from the Mahatma's life. In fact, this is a great opportunity to use these instances to teach your children why it is important to follow his ideals and values.
Here are some activities that you can do with your child:
Gandhiji's most enduring characteristic was his simplicity — as reflected in his look and attire. So, give your children the opportunity to dress up like the Mahatma. Younger children can wear ready-made white dhotis and you can help older kids wear dhotis. Wrap a long, white cloth around the body, the way Gandhiji used to. To get the 'bald' look, the easiest way is to simply use a skin-coloured swim cap. Alternatively, you can tie a flesh-coloured cloth snugly around the head so that the hair is completely covered. In terms of accessories, you will need a long walking stick (without the curved end) and round spectacles. As for spectacles, you can either buy one or make a frame at home using artistic copper wire.
A museum is a great place to let children see, read and understand our history and the freedom struggle. Any museum in India that showcases incidents from Indian independence will also have a special section on Gandhiji and his life. Make an effort to find out if the museum has an interactive section or films and videos detailing India's freedom movement. This will help children better understand the role played by Gandhiji and the sacrifices he made unstintingly for the country. Once you get back home, organise a simple quiz or have a family discussion around the visit. Find out what your children have learnt and what takeaways they wish to follow in their own lives.
Kids these days who look up to fashion so much will be unaware of the charkha (spinning wheel) and also have no idea what khadi fabric means. So, introduce them to the charkha and how it is used to spin fibres into yarn. Talk about how Gandhiji used the charkha to symbolise self-reliance. Hence, it played a significant role in India's freedom movement. Describe how spinning the charkha was a major source of livelihood in the villages. Also, do not forget to tell them that khadi fabrics are not only eco-friendly but also, come in beautiful hues today.
Gandhiji was a firm believer in truth, no wonder then that his autobiography is titled The Story of My Experiments with Truth! So, use the opportunity to play a fun truth game with your children. Tell them that you will not scold them but instead, appreciate their honesty. To make the game more enticing, you could even offer simple candies or chocolates as treats!
Here are some sample questions, the more creative the better!
This is a symbol of Gandhiji's life philosophy and values. The three monkeys stand for 'SEE no evil, HEAR no evil and SPEAK no evil'. It is said that Gandhiji used to own a statue of the Three Wise Monkeys, a visual metaphor for his message of peace and tolerance. You can make this seem more real by converting it into a game that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Best is to play with a group of children.
Things you will need: A pair of black goggles/dark glasses, a headphone and a piece of cloth with a zipper. Make sure there are enough for all the kids.
Game: Every time you (or someone else) says 'See no evil’, the children must all put on the dark glasses. When you say ‘Hear no evil’, the children need to wear the headphones and, every time you say ‘Speak no evil’, they must hold the zippered cloth against their mouth.
To up the fun factor, call out the sentences in random order!
Children love art and crafts. Some interesting crafts they could do for Gandhi Jayanthi include drawing a picture of Gandhiji, painting a spinning wheel, creating the three monkey motif, so on. Apart from art, you could also let your children make DIY monkeys and 'Gandhi glasses' using coloured chart paper, pencil and eraser, child-friendly scissors and glue. Older children can try their hands at making a 3D spinning wheel using artistic copper wire, ice cream sticks, glue and twine.
Gandhiji said, 'Cleanliness is next to godliness'. Use the occasion to make your children more responsible by getting them to clean their room. Tell them that Gandhiji made cleanliness and sanitation an integral part of his philosophy. Teach them that cleanliness is essential for physical well-being and for a healthy environment.
Once all the activities are done, you could relax and watch movies together, as a family. Choose movies that deal with the themes that played a vital role in Gandhiji's life. Here are some movie suggestions: Gandhi, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Swadesh and Lagaan.
Gandhiji played a significant role in India's freedom struggle. He also inspired millions of Indians during his lifetime. Even today, his life, values and his expansive literary output, has had a huge influence on people in our country and also around the world. Use the day as an opportunity to make Gandhiji come alive for your children.
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