Introduction to South Asia
by Katie Kozub

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Grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1 - 3

Curriculum Areas: Social Studies - Cultural and Physical Geography

Goals: This set of lessons is a basic introduction to South India and the state of Tamilnadu for kindergarten and lower elementary students. Students will compare aspects of daily life for children in Tamilnadu and for members of their own classroom. These are generally short lessons that will work well in a discussion circle format. Depending on the age of students
and available time, the teacher may choose to do one or more activities per session.

Lesson A: Locating India and the United States on a Globe and a Map

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: A.4.1, A.4.2, A.4.7

One session - 20 minutes

Objective: Students will know that India is a country on the other side of the world from the United States and be introduced to India’s flag and the state of Tamilnadu.

Materials: World Map, Globe, U.S. Flag, Indian Flag (or picture of flag)

Procedure:

- Teacher will lead a discussion:
- “What shape is the world?”
- Display a world map and a globe. “How and for what do we use these?”
- Discuss water and land depictions on the map and globe.
- Locate the United States and then Wisconsin (or your state).
- Locate India and discuss its position on the other side of the world from the U.S.
- “How could we get there?”
- Show a U.S. flag and an Indian flag (or a picture of one). Ask students to compare them.
- Locate Tamilnadu.
- Inform students that over the next few weeks they will be learning about some of the ways children live in Tamilnadu and how that is the same as or different than the way they live.

Lesson B: Making a Class KWL Chart (Know, Want to Know, Learned)

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: A.4.5, E.4.9

One session - 20 minutes

Objective: Students will participate in making a class KWL chart to refer to during the following lessons.

Materials: A prepared KWL chart, large enough to record students comments.

____________________________________________________
Know Want to Know Learned
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________

Procedure:

- Record answers to the following questions on the KWL chart.
- “What do you know about India or Tamilnadu?”
- “What do you want to know?”
- Discuss how they might find out answers to their questions.
- Keep chart for referral and to finish at lesson or unit completion.

 

Lesson C: Introduction to the Life of a Village Child in India

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: A.4.7, E.4.3, E.4.9, E.4.13

Three or four sessions - 15 to 45 minutes each

Objective: Students will draw a picture for a class book illustrating one or more aspects of a child’s life in an Indian village, dictate a sentence about it for the teacher to write on the picture, and tell the class about their picture. Students will discuss similarities and differences between an Indian child's life and their life.

Materials:
Video: Munni (Little Girl): Childhood and Art in Mithila (from the Center for South Asia, 28 minutes), artifacts or pictures such as clothing, kitchen items, money, music, art works, posters, houses, schools, books, etc., paper, crayons or markers.



Click on the photos
to see a bigger view

Procedure:

Session 1:

- Show video, Munni, reading the sub titles, stopping to talk about parts that are pertinent the lessons your students will do. This may be done in two sessions. Lead a discussion of the video, “What can you tell us about Munni’s life in her village?”

Session 2:

- Have each student draw a picture about a child's life in an Indian village and dictate a sentence for the teacher to write on the picture or write their own sentence.
- Have each student tell the class about their picture and bind the pictures together to make a class book that will be available to the students for further reference.
- Discuss the similarities and differences between an Indian child’s life and their life.


Session 3:

- Share with students and keep on display or use in the classroom artifacts or pictures to further their knowledge and understanding of Indian culture, stating that they will be using some of these items in future lessons.


Lesson D - Language

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: B.4.3, E.4.2, E.4.11, E.4.13

2 sessions - 15 minutes each

Short sessions of 5 - 10 minutes each as basic words are introduced and practiced.

Objective: Students will learn that many people in India and Tamilnadu speak multiple languages and students will be introduced to some basic words.

Materials:

- Basic word list to copy as needed from below.

- Hindi or Tamil alphabet chart. (can be borrowed from the Center for South Asia, UW-Madison)

- Literature at the appropriate level in Hindi or Tamil with the same book translated into English, and if available, a guestreader or recording of a book being read in Hindi or Tamil (See Lori Woitalla's lesson plan).

- Other pictures or samples of print, such as newspapers or shopping bags.

Procedure:

Session 1: Introduction and Print Comparisons

Discuss and compare:

- U.S. and Wisconsin - There is one main language, English.

- India and Tamilnadu - There are many languages. Hindi and English are the “national languages” that are used for communication across India and that most people can understand. Also, most people speak a language from the area they live in, such as Tamil in Tamilnadu. Most students will learn three languages in school, with either Hindi or English as the primary language, the other as the second, and the local language as the third.

- Show a Hindi or Tamil alphabet chart and compare with an English alphabet chart.

- Show and compare other samples of print if available.

Session 2: Oral Language Comparison through Literature

- If available, compare two copies of the same book, one written in Tamil or Hindi, and one written in English. If possible, arrange for a guest reader or a recording to read the Hindi or Tamil book first.

- Discuss what it might be about and what the students thought of the reading in a different language.

- Read and discuss the book in English.

Other sessions: Basic Tamil Words

At appropriate times, introduce and use frequently some of the following Tamil words. Make charts to display words as introduced.

Hello vanakkam
My name is . . . En peyar . . .
What’s your name? Unkal peyar enna?
yes am
no illai
   
one onru
two irantu
three munru
four nanku
five aintu
six aru
seven ezhu
eight ettu
nine onpatu
ten

pattu

blue nilam
green paccai
red sevappu
yellow manjal
black karupa
white vellai

 

Procedure:

Session 1: Introduction and Print Comparisons

Discuss and compare:

- U.S. and Wisconsin - There is one main language, English.

- India and Tamilnadu - There are many languages. Hindi and English are the “national languages” that are used for communication across India and that most people can understand. Also, most people speak a language from the area they live in, such as Tamil in Tamilnadu. Most students will learn three languages in school, with either Hindi or English as the primary language, the other as the second, and the local language as the third.

- Show a Hindi or Tamil alphabet chart and compare with an English alphabet chart.

- Show and compare other samples of print if available.

Session 2: Oral Language Comparison through Literature

- If available, compare two copies of the same book, one written in Tamil or Hindi, and one written in English. If possible, arrange for a guest reader or a recording to read the Hindi or Tamil book first.

- Discuss what it might be about and what the students thought of the reading in a different language.

- Read and discuss the book in English.

Other sessions: Basic Tamil Words

At appropriate times, introduce and use frequently some of the following Tamil words. Make charts to display words as introduced.

Session 2: Tasting and Eating Indian Food

Depending on time and the size of your group you may have the food prepared in advance or do the cooking with the students.

- Serve rice with one or two sauces and curd (yoghurt) if desired. A side dish could be a potato fry. Serve food and demonstrate mixing and eating with the fingers of the right hand. Sample recipes follow, or look in an Indian cookbook. Indian spices can often be found in Asian grocery stores. You may want to use fewer spices.


Sundal

This recipe uses cooked beans such as chick peas, green peas, black beans, split peas, green grams, moong dhall.

2 cups cooked beans
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
5 cloves of garlic finely minced
1/2² piece ginger finely minced
4 to 5 green chilies finely minced
2 Tbs. ghee butter or margarine
1 tsp. salt

Heat the butter, ghee, or margarine in a heavy pan. Fry mustard seeds until they pop. Add all the other ingredients except salt and beans and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 cups of cooked beans and salt and and cook for 1 more minute and remove from stove. Serve hot or warm.

Potato Fry

6 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1² cubes
4 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
4 onions finely minced
1/2 cup ghee, butter or oil mixed with ghee
1 tsp. salt

Heat the butter, ghee or oil mix in a heavy shallow pan. simmer and sauté the garlic and ginger paste for one minute. (To make garlic and ginger paste, grind 2 cloves of garlic with a 4² piece of ginger.) Add onion, chili and turmeric powder and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the potato pieces and stir well. Keep the pan covered and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir once in 4 or 5 minutes and put the lid back. When the potatoes are done to golden brown, add salt and stir well.

Extension: If you have access to an Indian stainless steel lunch carrier:
Have students show their lunch boxes and contents. Talk about the rice and sauces Indian children would have in their lunches. Send the lunch carrier home with a different student each day for them to use if they wish.

 

Lesson F: Water Usage

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: B.4.9, C.4.11, E.4.13

Session 1 - 15 minutes
Session 2 - 30 minutes

Objectives: Students will compare where their families get water and how they use it with village families in Tamilnadu.

Materials: Family Questionnaire, pictures of village wells and water jugs.


Click on the picture to see a larger view


Session 1:

- Lead a discussion about where students' families get their water.
- Discuss the questionnaire they will take home to work on with their families, then bring back to school.

_______________________________________________________
Discuss and list the ways your family uses water in your home.


Estimate the number of gallons of water your family uses each day.

(Your utility bill may list usage.)
_______________________________________________________

Session 2:

- Discuss and make a list of the ways students’ families use water.
- List the water usage estimates.
- Show pictures of village wells and water jugs, discussing how people haul their water from the wells to their homes.
- Fill a gallon jug with water and have students lift it.
- Ask “What would you think if you had to haul the amount of water your family uses each day from a well? Would you use less?”
- Discuss how village people generally do not have water from a faucet and take bucket baths, wash clothes in pails, etc. and that this uses less water.
- Ask “Should people in the United States use less water? Why or why not?”
- Introduce the idea of conservation of water.

- Ask “What are some ways we could use less water?”

Lesson G: Houses

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: A.4.4, E.4.13

1 Session - 30 minutes

Objective: Students will compare their houses with village houses in Tamilnadu.

Materials: paper and crayons or markers, pictures of Indian village houses.

Click on the photos to see larger views.

Procedure:

- Have students draw pictures of their houses and share them with the class.

- Ask questions about the number and kind of rooms, what materials they are made of, if they have yards, etc.

- With student input, draw on a board or paper a map of a typical house
and yard.

- Show pictures of village houses in Tamilnadu.

- Compare size and space use. Indian village houses are smaller, with fewer rooms that have multiple uses. Cooking may be done outside. People sleep on mats that are rolled up during the day.

- Compare building materials. A village house may be made of concrete or dried mud and may have a tiled or thatched roof. Most windows do not have glass, but a wood grid that will let air flow through.


Lesson H: Kolams

Wisconsin Social Studies Standards: E.4.11

3 sessions of 15 minutes each

Objective: Students will be introduced to kolams as a visual art of South India
and will make designs they could use in a similar way.

Materials: Rice or other flour or white sand and a small container for each student, pictures of kolams, paper and crayons.


Click on the picture to see a larger view

 

Session 1 - Introduction to Kolams

Procedure: Have students watch you make a kolam at an entrance to the school.

- Give students background information. Kolams are an art of South India practiced by women. It can be a daily ritual, marking the place between the home and the outside. Traditionally rice flour or ground shells was used. They are done free hand, and are usually a mathematical design.

Show pictures of kolams.

Session 2 - Practicing Kolam designs on paper

Procedure:
- Ask students to think about what kinds of designs they might make outside the doors of their houses that would be special to them.

- Have them make several designs on paper with crayons.

Session 3 - Making Kolams

Procedure:
- Give each student a small container of flour or sand to take to a sidewalk or blacktop area.
- Demonstrate making a line with the flour and fingers.
- Let students make their own kolams.
- Discuss their feelings and thoughts about kolams

 

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