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The Gift of Festivals

The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals.

In almost every part of the globe we know of, people definitely celebrate festivals round the year. If we take a closer look and spend a little time to indulge, these joyous festivals come with certain messages, messages about the change in seasons, variations in our planet, its connection to the Sun, The Moon and the other planets. These natural phenomena can be best termed and/or compared to a wonderful Rhythm.

Changes in weather, change of seasons or changing positions of the planets; marks as popular religious festivals regardless of the geographical or ethnic boundaries. A time when families and friends come together and celebrate in accordance to their rituals. While there are faith-based festivals celebrating the spiritual aspects, there are also festivals to commemorate a person or an event from the past. In our homes, we tend to find meaningful ways to honor such cosmic changes.

Celebrating these special rhythmically recurrent occasions with our children is essential and also very special for many reasons. Food, laughter, loved people, holidays for schools, colleges and workplaces are truly overwhelming for anyone. It is also important for the children to understand the essence of any celebration. It is extremely nurturing for them to know how and when seasons change, sow-reap cycles in their region and so on. Festivals are a medium we embrace to break the insulation we have built around us and develop more love and reverence towards ourselves, others and Mother nature.

Celebrations with children

When it comes to children, they need a little more time to embrace family traditions and rituals. Annual festivals carry aide to the overall development of a child. Walk in the nature to see the beauty of nature and how it changes every season is one of the few things parents/ adults can do along with the children. Little ones love to collect to tiny rocks, dried leaves and twigs. It is beautiful to see all the amazing things they can create using their collections. These little things from the nature and our celebrations are intertwined in a very special way.


Make up songs and sing them to your children, to gather those wandering minds. Simple words, small lines penetrate the children the most. For example: A song on all the colors expressing Spring can also make a song on Holi with a few words tweaked, song on a tiny little worm in its cocoon for a long long time finally breaking out into a beautiful and colorful butterfly and so on… This is a very subtle way to express gratitude towards everything and everyone around.

Storytelling is an art which most parents feel handy during a crisis situation. We all have grown up listening to stories from our parents on a wide variety of topics. Children would love to hear the history behind celebrating a festival. Minimal lines, lesser jargon, classic language are your key requirements while framing a story to narrate to them. Stories flaunting courage, virtue over vice, hope over despair when narrated to your little ones will go a long way. http://mylittlebookshop.in/product/full-amma-tell-series-10-book-set/ has some lovely books to start with.


There is one thing that children love to do and that’s to IMITATE. Right from the time they begin to look around in their environment. If there is someone cooking in the kitchen, they are there – pulling our entire kitchen out. If, there is someone folding clothes – one can find them woven in the pile of clothes reminding you of the game Chinese knot maybe… As they grow, it becomes our duty to transform such play into meaningful activitiesInvolving them in any festive preparation is helpful for both you and your child. It is one great way to make the child feel that he is an important part of the family and that he is needed at crucial times – builds a sense of belonging within the child. It’s unfair to be ambitious – they need to feel accomplished and at the same time being able to do that duty.


Repetitiveness is the key. Start a week or two before a festival begins and give it a nice closure. Year after year, these family traditions that we follow with our children will grow in them thus capturing the essence of such a celebration. Most of the festivals remind us about all the good qualities embedded in us – a quality of love, care, devotion, endurance, wisdom. This is the time we look within ourselves and allow these innate qualities to shine.

One thing that strikes me the most when it comes to celebrating festivals is that; irrespective of the region we live in or the religion we follow, the core values of such celebrations remain the same. There is a sense of ‘oneness’ that echoes across all boundaries and such enriching experiences are worth instilling in a young one’s mind. This for me; is an act of restoration of faith and trust in humanity.


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What Kind Of Stories To Tell Children (Part 3)

Seasonal Stories

We all live in a world full of rhythms. Rhythms are of different types – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. My focus in the current post is on yearly rhythms. Festivals and Seasons and birthdays occur rhythmically, once every year. They can be great starting points for story narrations. Tell the child stories about these events that  occur every year during the seasons -summer, rain, fall, and winter; festivals -Pongal, Ganesha Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas; Children cherish stories about their own birth and homecoming.

Children feel a sense of belonging in these stories as they can see the elements of the story right in front of them and relate to them. You may start narrating seasonal stories to babies, children 1-6 years. By repeating these topics every year during the season or festival, children understand deeply about their environment and culture. For example, you can speak to a  toddler about Rain in a simple way. Talk about how the raindrops falls down slowly and the ground gets wet. Observe how all the animals, birds and people who run to take shelter from the rain. This can be done by observing surrounding or supported by picture books. There are several beautiful books that discuss these everyday happenings.
Sunu Sunu Snail Storm in the GardenSunu-sunu the snail is playing in the garden with his friends, the ants. Suddenly there is a storm. He ‘hurries’ home to his mother and tells her all he saw and heard.
Sunu Sunu
The Red Umbrella It’s raining. What happens when seven animals have to share one small umbrella?
Red Umbrella
Little Frog is about a frog who asks his mother when it will rain. When the sky is dark with clouds, his mother replies. Every day of the week, Little Frog looks up at the sky and awaits the rain. It is also a story about days of the week, things you can see in the sky, and other creatures
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Raindrops: From her window, little Anju sees familiar scenes of a rainy day – cloudy skies, umbrellas, puddles… Raindrops
Let’s Catch the Rain: The author plays with big monsoon clouds and the message is simple: rainwater is free, pure and precious, Let us save it.
If you are narrating to a 4+, you may add new Vocabulary and further details about how the clouds are formed with water and once the two clouds bump into each other, it rains. You can also talk about the magical rainbows.
You can connect the season with the festivals celebrated in that season and their significance. In this way, we connect the season with the celebrations associated with it. We can build seasonal stories as they grow. I have some lovely storybooks on Festival- Amma Tell Me Books
Grandparents and parents have their own version of stories related to the birth of Krishna, how he ate the sand, how he lifted the Govardhan hill with his fingertip. Children love to see all the preparations that take place during festivals.  Children of the Christian faith and Muslim faith love to see the rituals and preparations that are marked by Christmas or Eid respectively.
I have had the pleasure of seeing children bring these stories alive into their pretend play. This indicates the child is absorbing the stories and need not be questioned. I advise parents to watch and enjoy, but not interrupt to correct them. Observe children deepen their understanding in their play, conversations, and gestures. We may only awaken the little souls from the dreamy state by questioning their intellect.
Rhythms are integral to life and by narrating stories of rhythm and helping children observe them in their daily lives, we are imparting an important lesson gently. Children respond to this soothing cycles of rhythm by seeking their own and building their center of calm and quietude.
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What Kind of Stories to Tell Children (Part 1 & 2)

Well, there are many theories about reading stories, since I’m from Waldorf background and that I have worked with this Philosophy in the kindergarten, I believe storytelling can be studied and understood in depth.

Reading a book to a young child is a very different experience from telling a story. Sensing a child’s need to hear a story coming directly from them, it can be a great experience to break free of written words and speak a tale from memory.

Today I would like to suggest one of the topics which can be used for infants and toddlers (0-3 years)

Stories from Nature

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You may weave simple story about the Flower in your garden, the Butterfly which came to visit the Flowers, the Crow sitting on the Tree opposite to your house, the Sun, Moon and Rain… They do not require to understand the scientific explanations in these nature stories. Benefits of saying nature stories is that your child sees the same flowers, trees, birds, cats and dogs everyday in her immediate environment.. so she can relate to these stories better than stories about a snowman, penguin, crocodile, flamingo which your child might not see in his environment. It also brings a sense of security to the child when the story is repeated often.

These stories can be modified for 3+ children by adding more details to the story with rich vocabulary(verbs and adjectives).

Telling stories to children helps in language development, imagination, creativity and much more. Have you ever wondered how children learn language? Do they start with ABC, no! It is through everyday conversations and listening to stories. Grammar too is learnt by using the language in your everyday conversations, not through books or flash cards!

Stories from your personal life

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Here children love to relate to your childhood, Where did you live? Who did you play with? Who and what did you love? As you share your real life incidents with them, they especially study your feelings. They need to hear their whole family group spoken of with loving and positive interest. Children can learn from us to respect and empathise with other family members.

Choose one memory and prepare to tell this as a little story. Children can make impressions of the stories you say which may deeply influence their adult life.

Try to have one meal a day together as a family, share these little stories during meal -time or when you spend time together as a family. This will indeed bring about family bonding, a sense of warmth and love among children.

The stories told are an important legacy you will leave your child in terms of a world-view. Storytelling also helps children satisfy their curiosity or bring out latent feelings. The precious thread of storytelling strengthen the parent-child bond.

Also Read : What kind of stories to tell children (part-3) and Reading story books