Vaisakhi, or Baisakh, is a Sikh holiday also celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus around the globe. It celebrates the foundation of the Khalsa, the harvest and the Sikh new year. Undoubtedly, it’s an excellent opportunity for EYFS educators to teach children about different traditions through fun crafts, games and activities.
Why do we celebrate Vaisakhi in Early Years?
Vaisakhi is a wonderful topic for EYFS. It is a great way to teach children about various festivals and holidays they may not celebrate at home. In addition, there are many Vaisakhi celebrations and traditions that can be adapted to EYFS activities.
What is Vaisakhi?
Vaisakhi is usually celebrated annually on 13 or 14 April. For Sikhs, it marks the birth of the Khalsa Order by Guru Gobind Singh. It also serves as a spring festival and the new year of the Hindu and Sikh calendar.
Additionally, the Sikh festival celebrates the major events in the history of Sikhism, especially those that happened in the Punjab region. In India, the holiday is also known as Vaisakha Sankranti, and however, different regions call it by different names.
What do you do during Vaisakhi?
For many Sikh communities worldwide, and especially in Punjab, Vaisakhi is celebrated by holding kirtans, organising community fairs, taking part in nagar kirtan processions, visiting the local Gurdwaras, socialising with family members and friends.
For Hindus, the festival is an occasion to bathe in India’s sacred rivers. These include the famous Ganges, Kaveri and Jhelum. Hindus also meet friends, perform daan (charity) and visit the temple.
Engaging EYFS Vaisakhi activities for communication and language development
There are many activities, crafts and games that EYFS educators and caregivers can organise to teach children about Vaisakhi. In addition to being engaging, they enable children to practice sequencing, learn different languages and hear modelled language. Here are seven age-appropriate activities that can be carried out in a classroom or setting.
The story of Vaisakhi
It’s a wonderful opportunity to tell an abridged version of the story of Vaisakhi. Chatta’s audio-visual storytelling approach is perfect for sharing any story with children. So why not create a Chatta board out of the story, and share it with the children? E.g. A long time ago, Sikhs came together to celebrate the harvest festival, and guru Gobind Singh asked some Sikhs to go into a tent.
Making a Nishan Sahib (flag)
A good craft activity is making a Nishan Sahib flag or the Sikh flag. This is a triangular flag, typically made of cotton or silk. Your children can make this traditional flag using cardboard or paper. Use this opportunity to share what the flag means and where it is used.
Take photos of the whole process and describe the steps using a Chatta board. E.g. You will need a square of orange paper or card. Fold it in half to make a triangle.
Bhangra dance moves
A popular dance to learn at Vaisakhi is the Bhangra. It is a traditional Sikh dance that involves a lot of moves, shapes, twists, steps and turns. In addition to being a fun activity, Bhangra and dancing in general help develop children’s coordination and gross motor skills.
This activity is also great for consolidating new vocabulary about rituals, hobbies and physical activities. Take photos and add them to a Chatta board. You can then use the board to review any new vocabulary.
Food plays a central role in Vaisakhi celebrations. Chapati, in particular, is very popular. Plan and make a Chapati recipe to celebrate Vaisakhi with the children. Making this traditional Indian flatbread is easy and a great activity to engage the children. Explain the recipe steps using Chatta. E.g. First, we added water to a bowl of flour. We kneaded it until it was nice and soft.
The 5 Ks
The 5 Ks – Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaccha (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (steel sword) – are five important items in Sikhism. Vaisakhi is the perfect opportunity to explain the importance of the five Ks and explore words in a different language.
Add photos to a Chatta board, and record the story of the origin of the five Ks. E.g. Guru Gobind Singh said five symbols are special to Sikhs. The first one is Kesh, which means long, uncut hair. The second one, Kangha, refers to a special comb.
Describe the traditions of Vaisakhi and explain them using pictures. Add them to a Chatta board. The children will understand the history and traditions involved in this special occasion. On the morning of Vaisakhi, adults and children alike go to the Gurdwara for a service.
Lion fact file
The name “Singh” means lion. It is a common surname amongst members of the Sikh community. Use it as a chance to talk about lions. Encourage the children to describe the different body parts, appearance and behaviours of a lion. E.g. Baby lions are called cubs. A family of lions is called a pride.
We hope you enjoy these Vaisakhi EYFS resources. If you’re an early years teacher and know of any activities we’ve not listed here, tweet us @hellochatta.
You can download the Chatta software and trial it for free by visiting https://app.chattalearning.com/.