I have recently authored a children's picture book, 'Stripes of Sunderban'. It's illustrated by my dear friend, Dr.Balan. I am also homeschooling my two children. I frequently use various books to formulate a lesson plan for them. Personally, I believe learning should occur in a fun and interactive way. What better medium could it be if it's not through picture books? Children could relate to various subjects via the story thus learning in an integrated approach. So, I have created a STREAM (Science,Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Maths ) based lesson plan using our picture book as a learning guide. 'Stripes of Sunderban' is a story based on the swamps of Sundarban in India. It is the habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger. It speaks of local myths, many other inhabitants of the swamp and an inspiring tale of a local girl with growth mindset. The book is tailored for young minds thus it is simple yet engaging. I have put together facts and activities that encompasses a wide array of topics but in a visual and interactive mode. I hope and believe children and parents will enjoy the book together because books are not only wonderful attention builders, they also foster love and connection.
1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)
The tiger is the largest member of the cat family. Tigers live in the forests of Asia and are part of many myths and stories. They are extremely fast when running short distances and can leap nearly 9 metres. They can be easily recognised because of their striped fur and skin. They usually have an orange or brownish yellow coat with a white chest and belly. Their coat is covered with broken vertical black/dark brown stripes. These stripes allow the animal to blend in while walking through tall grass. Tigers are good swimmers and they enjoy wading in water, especially when it gets hot. Tigers can climb trees, but they do not usually do so because of their huge size.
-Bali tiger (extinct)
-Caspian tiger (extinct)
-Javan tiger (extinct)
-South China tiger
3. Bengal tiger
There are many tales about Great Bengal Tigers being ferocious man-eaters.Yet almost all wild tigers avoid people. Fatal attacks by tigers on humans are, thankfully, rare. Most tigers would only attack a human if disturbed, provoked or injured.
In the Sunderban Reserve, along the coast of the Bay of Bengal in India, tigers are reported to have attacked people. Since tigers are thought to attack only from the rear, the people here wear masks on the backs of their heads. This second "face" is thought to confuse the tigers and thus protect the wearer.
These facts are from the 'Wonders of Learning: Discover Big Cats' book.
4. Sundarban: One of the World's Largest Natural Mangrove Forest and listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It serves as a habitat for many animals, such as ( listed chronologically as how they are illustrated in the book ) :
- Common Kingfisher : Their underparts are bright orange in colour with the white bib. Their wings are bluish green and the tail is bright blue in colour. They have blue head with the white mark on either side of it. Common Kingfisher can be spotted in the Corbett National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park and Sundarbans National Park in India.
- Bengal Tiger : as described above
- Lesser Adjutant Stork : A large stork with an upright stance, a bare head and neck without a pendant pouch. The lesser adjutant is often found in large rivers and lakes inside well wooded regions, in freshwater wetlands in agricultural areas, and coastal wetlands including mudflats and mangroves.
- Russel's Viper : It is a venomous snake and responsible for the most snakebite incidents in India. They generally have an aggressive demeanour. Its scales are strongly keeled and has a distinctive bright chain pattern with a large triangular head.
- Northern River Terrapin : It is a species of riverine turtle native to Southeast Asia. It is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It is one of Asia's largest freshwater turtles. This species is currently found in Sundarbans, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Irrawaddy Dolphin : The colour of Irrawaddy dolphins ranges from dark blue to dark grey with a pale ventral underside. They have a high rounded forehead and no beak. Their U-shaped blowhole is located on the left of the midline, on the dorsal side and opens to the front, unlike other species.
- Crested Serpent Eagle : Found in Indian subcontinent, Southern China and South East Asia. It lives mainly in forests and mangroves. Their main prey is reptiles such as snakes.
- Tree Crab : It is a species of crab which lives on mangrove trees.
- Rhesus Macaque : It is a typical macaque, found throughout Afghanistan, Northern India and Southern China.
- Estuarine Crocodile : It's also known as saltwater crocodile and is the largest of all living reptiles.
-Rufous Treepie : The range of this bird species is quite large, covering India, Laos and Thailand.
We used ScratchJr to code a tiger swimming in the swamp. Through ScratchJr, young children can programme their own interactive stories. My daughter, aged 6, drew and coloured a tiger through the programme and coded the tiger to swim across the swamp. She even added a roar! This process promotes creativity as it gives children the freedom to create and innovate. It is a free downloadable programme and very easy to learn.
In this book, the fisherman uses a boat for fishing in the swamps. Children will be naturally curious as they come across words describing parts of the boat, such as the stern. This could lead on to the idea of building a boat. Here are some inspirations on different ways of engineering a boat.
I printed a picture of a Bengal tiger from the link below and my daughter tried Watercolour Resist technique to paint the tiger. She coloured the stripes with black oil pastel and added water colour to the drawing. Watercolour resist technique is a fun way for kids to explore painting.
Tigers are becoming very rare, because people hunt them for their skin and destroy the habitats they live in. The Bengal tiger has the largest population with 3,500 left in the wild. The South-Chinese tiger has the smallest population with only 20 or 30 left in the wild. We can show this fact by using a picture graph or pie chart. I have included a short video on Picture Graphs by Khan Academy. Pie charts and picture graphs are vital for understanding measurement and data.
Stripes of Sunderban also highlights growth mindset. The story reflects how the girl focuses her fear into realising her dream by becoming a wildlife photographer.
Through this book, children can learn to connect ideas and values in an integrated approach, enhanced by this lesson plan.
STEAM through Reading a complementary picture book = STREAM ------> 'Stripes of Sunderban".