In our picture book travels series with St. Paul’s Plus Preschool, we’re sharing fun ways to integrate cultural exploration through your preschool reading adventures at home! Each article will include a story to read together, craft idea, fun country facts, and a suggesting for taking your exploration out of the house.

This month, we’re exploring the country of India and making henna hands!

The Book: The Diwali Gift  by Shweta Chopra & Shuchi Mehta

“This book is great for young kids and gives a great description of Diwali!  It is fun and bright and will helps teachers introduce an aspect of Indian culture to their students,” said Karen Harding, World Cultures Teacher at St. Paul’s Plus.

The Diwali Gift tells of the tale of three Curious Monkeys – Suno, Dekho and Jaano – as they discover the most auspicious, wonderful Diwali Gift! When a mysterious package arrives just in time for Diwali, the three friends can hardly contain their excitement. 

Picture Book Travels: India - (cool) progeny - Photo by Laura Black



Blank Paper
Brown Marker
Colored Paper (Green or Yellow)


Have the kids trace their hands on blank paper using a pencil and begin to fill in their designs with a brown marker (to emulate henna’s natural color)

Provide pictures from pages of a book to get ideas for how to decorate the hands. They really had fun learning about the symbols and trying to produce delicate work.

After tracing the designs with brown marker, the hands were cut out and mounted on either green or saffron (yellow). The mounting paper was then cut out to show an outline then glued onto the background paper.

Picture Book Travels: India - (cool) progeny - Photo by Laura Black


Diwali (Deepawali) is the Hindu festival of light celebrated every year. This festival is one of the India’s biggest festivals and celebrated as festivals of lights.  This festival is celebrated over 5 days and signifies the victory of light over darkness.  The holiday falls between mid-October to mid-November each year.  This year Diwali was October 19, 2017.

Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like holidays, birthdays and weddings in Africa, Pakistan, India, and the Middle East and appears during joyous celebrations such as the Hindu holiday of Diwali.


The dramatic display of Asian Art at The Walters Art Museum offers a rich exploration of artistic traditions from diverse cultures and regions across India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. Be sure to stop in their Family Art Center to make and create before you go home!


St. Paul’s Plus has been serving infants, toddlers and preschoolers for over 25 years and recognizes that children learn by doing. At the heart of the program is the knowledge that children need to feel safe and loved in order to reach out to the world around them. By providing a positive, loving environment, their teachers have formed foundations for life-long learning since our opening in 1989. St. Paul’s Plus promotes the development of the whole child in the areas of social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth, and the staff strives to create a positive and nurturing environment where children explore and learn. MORE