An onion is a vegetable that desperately needs an image consultant. It is often derided as being responsible for heightening our emotions and bringing tears to our eyes, even though it quietly goes about its business, safely ensconced in layers and layers of flavour. In fact, the addition of onion to a dish elevates the taste and enhances the dining experience like few vegetables can.

There are many people we know like that; those whose image may not do justice to their significance. Their layers of depth and their ability to withstand any change around them, make them symbols of endurance and strength.

At Snehadhara Foundation, our children are the greatest representation of enduring change and finding strength in tough circumstances. Take this week, for example. The children graduated to more online group sessions after weeks of easing them into it, wholly aware of how chaotic and confusing sessions with too many people can be. Online sessions due to the COVID-19 situation have been an incredible change for the children, and true to their wont, they’ve risen to the occasion. What started as largely one-on-one sessions and sporadic group sessions, turned into more group activities online this week even as the solo sessions continued.

The phenomenal response to the story of Alice in Wonderland as a theme inspired us to pick up our next story to tie in all our subjects and concepts. So, through the charmingly thought-provoking story of The Onion Shawl, we navigated through concepts of Math, Botany, Gardening, Cooking, Fitness, Craft, Environmental Sciences and more, with the Arts playing the trusted role of a catalyst.

Through music, dance and art, these concepts were explored with groups of our children, as they simultaneously learnt with wonder how to appreciate peer interaction online. They learnt what soaking a potato overnight does to the vegetable, how to plant a potato and even how to sow seeds of tomatoes and chillies.

Vegetables and COVID-19 were a good reminder of how to wash our hands as well as to clean our vegetables carefully. While learning the parts of a plant, they also experimented with using them to do painting, making a potato and cucumber mask, stylish onion necklaces and more.

To the wonderfully catchy words and tunes of Beke Beke Tarkari and I’m the Best, our children learnt how flexible their voices are as modulation and sound became their superpowers. They worked in teams to creatively enact what it could be to be a vegetable and gave voice to these characters that they played

With vegetables taking centre-stage in their learning processes this week, cooking sessions couldn’t be far behind. Virtual cooking classes introduced them to flavours and natural colours, as our little chefs attempted to make their own salads. The sizzling of a pan, the khat-khat sound of vegetables being cut on a chopping board, the crunch of fresh vegetables… the sonic experience of cooking made the learning part so much more fun!

Knowing how being at home can make us couch potatoes, so we roped in the children to do vegetable themed exercises and even engage in a kathak session with veggies.

The week had many takeaways for us but among the best is how effortlessly the children and their parents participated in group sessions, making the process of learning so much more entertaining and enriching.