Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kitchen art with children

This article of mine got published in an edition of The New Indian Express.

Oh! The dough! You never know
What surprises it can throw!

“Kitchen art with children?” My friend exclaimed. “What could you do with children in the kitchen?”

“You could raise a Picasso or a Michelangelo there.” Ignoring the strange look on her face I continued. “It does volumes to a child’s motor skills and creativity too.”
That’s how I get into the story of how, with some help from a seasoned mother, I have introduced my daughter, a preschooler then, to the world of dough and vegetables that led her to a world of colours and shapes and patterns.

As she watched fascinated how a ball of dough got shaped into a big flat circle under my rolling pin, I took a small ball for her. “Let’s make a necklace,” I said. Pressing the ball in between my hands, I shaped it into a cylinder. “This is a pipe. Let’s join the two ends. Here we are with a ring, a dough-necklace!” I shaped it back into a ball and made a longer, thinner cylinder now, saying slowly “So long and so thin, the other one was short and thick.” This time a bigger necklace emerged. By now, Diya was completely smitten by the exercise and was deep into shaping balls and pipes and rings from dough-balls of different sizes and learning ‘big, small, long, short, thick, thin’. Later, I shaped very small balls of dough into triangles and semi-circles and rolled them flat, then puffing them over fire, slowly introducing her to new shapes.

Once, I cut an okra laterally into pieces, placing each of them on different colours of a wet colour palette. With a little help, Diya picked up each piece and placed them all on a white sheet. After a while when she picked them up, cute coloured patterns were looking up at us! Soon enough, ‘pink, purple, brown, black, orange’ joined her colour vocabulary over the days.
Over time I introduced patterns through fruit loops by stringing them with a thread, alternating the brown loops with red loops with Diya, to arrive at a new necklace for her favourite doll! Experimenting again, I cut an onion in two halves to get an even surface which Diya painted pink with her brush and used it as a stamp to leave designs on her white napkin.
Her paintbrush, paints and a big ball of dough were now her favorite companions, specially during rainy evenings spent indoors. Before I knew it, Diya was ready for her “big day” at her new school, armed with a fair degree of motor skills and a decent knowledge of colours and shapes!

I have more of me in my book Rays and Rains (e-book available at a much lower price).
Rays and Rains

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