Introducing Seeds to Children With Fun and Games

“Summer Seed Race 2019” – A perfect time to bond and a great way to learn about seeds.

The sensorial and tactile act of rummaging, gathering and collecting seeds will contribute to kindling a genuine interest and connecting all of us intimately with our immediate natural world.

A humble attempt to get each one of us to spare a moment for the green blessings that we have taken for granted.

So said Dirty Feet‘s mail announcing the “Summer Seed Race 2019” activity under its NATURE SCHOOL programme.

B +ve and O +ve collect loads of stuff during their usual nature walks in the parks/neighbourhood. I suspect that many of them are seeds in different forms though I cannot identify any one of them. I spoke to the Dirty Feet team that we do not know a thing about plants. They replied that it is not a prerequisite at all; rather it is an opportunity to learn about seeds.

We enrolled immediately for the programme. We spent the morning of Saturday at the picturesque Sanjeevaiah Park, getting introduced to seeds in an amazingly beautiful manner.

The Seed Race

The first event was the seed race. We were a 4 member group – O +ve, B +ve, Sunny (a friend’s son aged 9 years) and myself. There were 3 teams along with us. In the race, we had to explore and scout around for seeds, seed pods and fruits.  As it was a race, there was going to be counting of the different varieties collected by us. One point for one variety and a bonus point if we can identify the tree.

We were free to google to identify the scientific/common/local names of the trees and a pdf file was also shared. I realized that I cannot identify even one seed with all the help possible and I let go off the task.

B +ve and O +ve have been to Sanjeevaiah Park several times. They started collecting the seeds from the word go. For me, it was like what is not a leaf/twig/branch, can be a seed. All the three kids were much better than me in identifying the seeds as well. Whilst scouting for seeds, they checked out many ant colonies, ran behind squirrels and watched crows having their breakfast – must-do activities for children in parks. As we were moving in one direction, park personnel warned us about the presence of snakes in the vicinity.  For a while, the kids forgot about the seeds and began to search for snakes.

As a group, we were supposed to collect only one seed of every variety, but the girls enjoyed filling their bags with whatever they could lay their hands on. So, their bags were overflowing with seeds. We finally got back to the starting point 45 minutes after we began our hunt.

The children did a good job by collecting 17 different varieties of seeds, they even identified 4 of them. I couldn’t identify even a single seed.

The Seeds Mandala

While we were away, Dirty Feet team had put together a Seed Mandala with 20 + varieties of seeds and pods. Kids were then, encouraged to pick seeds and pods from the Seed Mandala and create whatever they felt like. The children had a great time letting their imagination run wild. They were running back and forth from the seed mandala to the space provided to them to make seed installations and even had a background narrative in place to explain their intriguing creations.

The way every child was able to add life, character and features to the tiny seeds and twisted pods was mind-blowing.  The entire world with mountains, trees, birds, insects, humans, sun and earth was there in the form of seeds and pods including their selves. Dirty Feet has a stupendous collection and it was fun to watch children making the maximum use of it.

The Seed Games

Now, it was time for the Seed Games. The first up was the Subabul Moustache Game. The children had to balance the seed sticks above their lips and race without letting the sticks fall. Despite the balancing challenge, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the race. It was then the turn of the parents and I must tell you that I too loved it.

The kids then moved on to playing the Silk Cotton blow game, the dice game with Pongamia seeds and spinning eucalyptus and sea bean tops.

The cocklebur seeds were, of course, the showstoppers. When the kids figured out the clinging property of these seeds, they went the whole hog trying it on every possible surface. They then aimed the cocklebur seed darts at the silk cotton pouches. Kudos to the team, which designed the game incorporating the base characteristic of the cocklebur seed.

Phew. The children had a great time just with seeds for over three hours and I had no idea when the time flew by.

Waiting for the next Seeds Race

For me, the seed was a tiny little thing. I had no idea whatsoever that it came in so many different forms, sizes and types.

For the children, it was a great way to introduce them to seeds – nature’s bounty.

It reaffirmed my belief that if there is one way to make a better tomorrow, it is to introduce seeds, plants, trees and nature to children and parents – Dirty Feet way with fun and games. To make environment-friendly and ecologically sensitive citizens to help Mother Nature – out there in the open under the trees, day in, day out.

3 Factors In Selecting A House For Children

We had to vacate our home for the last 10 years. It was a place where O +ve and B +ve had stayed ever since they were born. This house was on the third floor of the apartment, with no play area, on a 24*7 busy main-road, right opposite a metro station. It served our requirements, that we had 10 years back, very well.

Now, we had to choose a house that suits the requirements of our twin daughters, currently four and a half-years-old. We listed down the factors important to us.

Nature

We know that in a city like Hyderabad, first-hand interaction with nature comes at a premium. With this constraint, our prerequisite was that our daughters can spend as much time as possible outside the four walls of the house.

A place to play, run and jump under an open sky with the accompaniment of sunlight and wind. It had to be a place where they can splash around in puddles and bath in rains. A place where they can do nature hunt as and when they like, as much as they want. It had to be a place where they can see insects inside/outside the home and also the stray animals. A place with trees around where they can hear the chirping of the birds in the morning. All these, without the paraphernalia of getting outside the home and with the main door of the house open for their safety.

Our former house was 3 km away from the nearest possible park. Now, we wanted a park within the walking distance. And yes, we wanted to be away from the traffic, for nature and vehicles do not go together.

People

Given that our twin daughters do not go to any formal environment until now, we wanted a place where children come out to play. In our earlier house, though there were 30 flats in the apartment, there was no play area and children hardly got an opportunity to play together.

We selected the house with this criterion and I must say that we got it wrong. I realized that the weight of school bags is not going to reduce in India.

Another criterion for us in house selection was that the girls get to see and interact with all different kind of people that co-habit our country. Our daughters have now made friends with garbage collectors; they speak to sweepers and see all the types of street-vendors that throng the locality. They see diversity and try to understand that everyone is different.

Of course, in people, the most important criterion was that Dirty Feet‘s office is within a walking distance of 5 minutes. So, their mother does not have to spend time in a conveyance from home to office and back.

Space

Our previous house, with all its limitations, had one thing – it was spacious. The girls had a gala time running, hopping, skipping, jumping, climbing, cycling inside the home. We wanted it to continue, within the house as well as outside the house. A place where they can play peek-a-boo and keep finding new hiding places. All these without making nuisance to our neighbours, which we did a number of times, in the earlier house.

We wanted a place ample enough for their activities, arts and crafts and where they can make a mess to their heart’s content. The house needed space so that all their stuff – clothes, toys, games, books are kept within their reach, where they can take and put it back.

The above was our criteria for renting the house for children. We are sure that we are not going to buy a house for we feel that our requirements keep changing and we do not want to be tied down to a place.

Summing Up

Fortunately, we did find a house which we now call home meeting the above criteria. A ground floor house with a good enough court-yard. Yes, we did lose out on the high-rises and the perks of the gated community. Win some, lose some.

The girls are liking their space, sun, wind, insects, street vendors, stray dogs and cats, parks, trees, jumping around and more.

We do not know how it will contribute to their growing up and what will be its impact. We shall see. I will keep you updated.

What would be your factors in selecting a house for children?