Explore the Indian holiday Diwali through sensory play!
No matter your background, it’s important to teach young children about the different holidays people celebrate around the world. This activity brings together the celebration of Diwali and allows children to explore the amazing smells that Indian culture has to offer. We recommend reading a book or researching a bit more about the holiday to help children better understand what it’s all about. The beautiful colors traditionally displayed during Diwali will leave children curious about Diwali the celebration of light!
📚Get inspired: “Diwali” by Trudi Strain Trueit is a great starting point for books for young preschool children to start the conversation around this holiday.
❗ New word alert! “Mandir” is a temple. Some food is taken to the mandir and offered to the gods for their blessing. It is then divided up to be taken home by the people who go there.
🍬 Did you know? Getting ready for Diwali involves cleaning your house, buying new clothes and jewelry, and baking or purchasing sweets to give to friends and family.
For this activity you will need:
2 cups flour
1 cup water
½ cup oil
½ cup salt
Spices such as: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom pods, black pepper, nutmeg and cloves
Large bowl for mixing
Small bowls to lay out spices for smelling
Optional: Playdough shape cutters
Using all senses in the exploration of properties and functions of objects and materials
Start the conversation around Diwali and why it’s celebrated. We’ve included a few books to engage in conversation with young children.
Next, make your playdough base by combining flour, water, oil, and salt in a large bowl and mix until all the dough is formed.
Now, you’ll want to introduce your children to the variety of spices available. You can put them in individual bowls and have the children smell them and describe the scents. Do any of the spices remind them of anything?
Have your children decide which spices they want to add to the dough. They can add all of them, some of them or just one- it’s up to them!
Encourage the children to make “sweets” out of the dough similar to the ones they saw in the books.
⬆️ For older preschoolers: See if older preschoolers can replicate the sweets based on shapes and designs that they saw in the book. Some can be quite intricate!
⬇️ For younger toddlers: Extend this activity by having the younger children help you crush the cardamon pods, break the cinnamon sticks, and crack the black pepper to help develop fine motor muscles.
What does the smell of the cinnamon stick remind you of?
Have you ever had any of these spices before in a dessert or food item?
How would you describe the black pepper? Is it spicy?
What do you notice about the color of all of the spices we have?
How do the spices feel in your hands? What about after we crush them?