There is something very precious that all children seem to have…something that we just lose as we go along and ‘grow up’. It’s the sense of wonder at the simplest and smallest things in life. How often do we stop to look at the sunset, the stars, the sea? Or get excited by the rustling of leaves or a new flower?
I find that kids can look at the same little thing every day and still be fascinated. The temple bell, the horn of the bus, the vegetable vendor’s basket and their father’s shoes.
The other thing that my boys love is bags – any bag they find needs to be opened and explored.
So putting the two together, here are a couple of things i have tried with them in the past. Both provide for discovery and excitement…and of course, learning is just a part of the process.
1. Stuff in a bag: I take either an old handbag of mine or a cloth grocery bag and fill it up with a lot of random things. Papers, old receipts, books, pens, a diaper, a hanky, toy animals…basically stuff that is lying around the house. Then i hang it on a chair near the boys. if and when they see it, they go for it and then start pulling out things one by one, always asking, “what this?” or “kai ahey?” (marathi). They get so excited about this, it is awesome to watch. They sometimes try to dump it all out at once. I let them. It’s their call, their discoveries, their moment of wonder! Sometimes they put it all back and repeat the process. Sometimes they finish a round and walk away to something else. I have found that when i have a small new toy or book – this is a great way for them to find it. They love to find something new in the bag. But i do that just once in a way so it’s not like they are expecting a new thing every time they see a handbag on the chair!
2. Discovery expedition: This is again loads of fun. I take empty fabric bags that the kids can sling onto their shoulder or hold easily. Then we go out in search of our own treasure. The boys can pick up whatever catches their fancy. We talk about what they are picking up and it is a good chance to foster observation skills. SO for example, when we went down one morning to the garden in our building, we looked at 4 different shades of bougainvillea, we picked a few flowers that had fallen down and felt their texture. SIddhant noticed that they did not really have a fragrance. We collected a lot of muddy stones, some leaves of different sizes, a straw, a small piece of rubber tyre (left behind by a car) and sticks from trees. All these went into their bags and we all had a blast. My husband did something similar with them at the beach.
As i was writing this up, i was reminded of the title of a calvin and hobbes book by Bill Watterson: There’s treasure everywhere. I completely agree…there sure is!