• JoAnne Saldanha

A Saree for Ammi...filled with learning opportunities.



Ammi weaves the most beautiful sarees in the world, Abba is a pro at dyeing the threads and the children help out where ever they can. However, Ammi doesn’t own even one of her sarees, only ever wearing a faded salwar kameez and dupatta. The children have a wonderful idea…they debate about using the money they have been saving in their gullak to buy themselves treats, to buy Ammi a saree instead. Not any saree, but one of her own creations. Do they have enough? Will their dream of buying Ammi a saree come true?


As I skimmed through the story, thought that it was a great addition to the interactive read aloud sessions at our school library. It offered so much to link to the children’s learning and offered plenty of opportunity for the children to contribute, as well as to spark discussions.

This ‘full of heart’ story highlights the selflessness of two little girls who work hard to buy their mother a wonderful gift.

But along the way, the story gave us plenty to learn too….

History…as it explained how this weave is said to have been found by a Rajah in Mysore, who then invited a few weaver families to move to Kota in Rajasthan, bringing along their skill in weaving the gossamer saree now know as 'kota mysoria'.

Geography…as we traced the weavers journey from Karnataka to Rajasthan

Art…by this I mean the art of weaving. The children were shocked to know that it could take more than a month to weave just one saree and that they were woven by hand. Many of them were familiar with the Hand Loom as they had observed weaving at 'Dakshin Chitra', a wonderful live museum of Art and Culture and at a wonderful place called Shuttles and Needles, on their Montessori ‘Going out program.’ They learnt about what it meant to ‘dye’ threads or fabric. We discussed the designs of sarees and there were any interpretations of their own ‘designer’ creations on paper.

Diversity…They were exposed to children so far removed from themselves, children who lived in a village, children who needed to scrounge and save money, children who were may not know if they are getting their next meal, but who yet think up ways to earn money to buy their Ammi a saree. We discussed the different terms by which we addressed our parents.


Although we are focussing on Indian folk tales this term, the idea was to emphasise diverse India. We are also highlighting dance, art, weaving and storytelling traditions across the country. Although not a ‘folk tale’, I loved that this book brought so much to the table.


I am a huge Mamta Nainy fan, after her book 'Sadiq wants to stitch' and Sandhya Prabhat's illustrations are super engaging with their pop of colour and details.


Inspired by the sarees in the book A Saree for Ammi, my elementary students designed their own saree and fabric....on paper.

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There was a lot of thought that went into the designs. Done graphic, some traditional and some girlie pink and rainbows. I love to hear their explanations and thinking behind each design. I wouldn’t mind some of those designs myself. Which one would you like?



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We’ve been reading books as well as narrating Folktales orally from across the country, with the idea of highlighting our diversity. We’ve been looking at our culture, traditions, languages, art and crafts, dance, clothing, food and more.

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I must add here that at almost every class, a child has come up to me to tell me how much they are enjoying the Indian Tales and how they are looking forward to hearing tales from EVERY state!!!

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