ThinkBag offers online stories and magazines for children, all with an Indian touch. Visit www.think-bag.com to avail an early bird offer - FREE access to children's e-books and e-magazines.
What happens when
three super-enthusiastic mommies get tired of their same old boring routines?
C’mon, think! Actually, ThinkBag!
Jokes apart, that is
exactly how ThinkBag (www.think-bag.com)started in the
summer of 2012. To quote the founders Mathangi, Priya & Srilakshmi, “For 10
long years, we had the same routine: compete
with the sunrise, cook, get the kids ready for school, off to work, back from
work, and be with kids, eat, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” So one fine day, they called it
quits. Not the same clichéd reason: “spend time with kids”. They sure were
going to do that but with a twist.
Each one was thinking,
“How can I make my child emotionally intelligent, knowledgeable and a divergent
thinker? “ They read a lot, learnt and
unlearnt a lot, thought and contemplated. Then all of a sudden, the light bulb
went on!! “Why not craft stories for our children that emphasize cognitive,
social and emotional development with ability to be independent and appreciate
So the Bangalore,
India based trio made up stories for their kids and the little ones absolutely
loved them. Naturally, they thought to themselves, “Why not reach out to other
kids too?” Thus was born the idea and concept of ThinkBag – brand new stories
and magazines for children, all available online.
have power.They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate,
challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds.
Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons. Want to make a point
or raise an issue? Tell a story…..” — Author Janet Litherland.
story series that allows the child to think What, How
Here, the stories are set against an Indian
backdrop and narrated with the help of protagonists, plots, poems or simple
narratives. The stories emphasize
emotional intelligence, knowledge, ethics, values, respect, independence, inter-
dependence, positive thinking, problem solving, environmental awareness and
much more. There is also a “Thinking Time” page that stimulates both the child and
the parent to think beyond the ordinary. Some stories are in
Indian Languages, and in some stories the child can decide how the story ends.
What a creative concept!
a fortnightly magazine series that allows the child to learn Why, How and What.
In this format, children
will dive deep into one theme with the help of Jojo, the magazine narrator. They
will learn many different aspects of simple topics like Water, Paper, House, Wind
etc. How can paper be made at home? What
is a food pyramid? Which are the vehicles without wheels? Each magazine ends with aQuiz.
Bonus Feature - Children can earn reward “Clouds” and redeem these “Clouds” to decorate their
own virtual room. Teach them arithmetic, saving and spending in this process! For more information on "Clouds", click hereor go to the“Site Map” section in the page footer at www.think-bag.com.
Seems like fun? We at Indya Unlimited certainly thought so!
“The biggest challenge for
kids growing up outside India is to be able to experience and enjoy the sights,
sounds, and colors of India in the same kind of way as we did growing up.”
It would not be an
exaggeration to say that Aarti Khanna and Shameeli Sinha have very articulately
echoed the sentiments of the millions of NRIs across the world. The two young
mothers are the creative force behind Tamarind Tots, maker of interactive
iPhone, iPad, and Android apps and web-based games about Indian culture and
In a way, Aarti and
Shameeli’s story is the story of the quintessential Global Indian. Both of them
grew up in India, and the pursuit of better opportunities brought them to the
U.S. and Hong Kong respectively. Then came the kids who completely changed
their outlook towards their rich Indian heritage. They became more conscious
about preserving the Indian culture, and deliberate about passing it onto the
new generation. And so Tamarind Tots was born!
When I first talked to them
and heard their story, it was a total déjà-vu. After all, Indya Unlimited came
about from the same thought process. Beyond that, I was very much impressed
with Aarti and Shameeli’s passion for their work and the innovative ideas and
products they are bringing to the Global Indian diaspora. So I decided to dig
deeper and get to know more about them and Tamarind Tots.
Ladies, tell us a little bit
more about yourselves and the inspiration behind Tamarind Tots?
We are both graduates of the
Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and have been friends for a
long time now.
Aarti worked with McKinsey
& Company in India, Bostonand Chicago. She also
worked as Director of Strategy for Oce` NV, a technology company.Aarti’s
husband is a second generation Indian in the U.S., and a Surgeon by profession.
She has two little boys, 5.5 years and 10 months old.
Shameeli has worked as a
consultant with IBM in India and Hong Kong.Her husband is an
Investment Banker and they have two young girls, 9 yrs and 6 yrs old.
We are really keen that our
kids appreciate and are proud of their rich Indian heritage, while being raised
as Global citizens in a multicultural, dynamic, and exciting international
When we had our kids, both
of us searched various stores both in the U.S. and in India, but struggled to
find a high quality, contemporary and comprehensive resource, and the ones we
did find were somehow not engaging enough for our little ones. They would
happily watch the Baby Einstein line of books and DVD’s and learn so much from
them, but would quickly lose interest in the Indian books and DVDs. This is
what sowed the seeds for Tamarind Tots!
This is a very innovative concept for the Indian market. Can you shed
some light on your products? How do they compare to other materials out there like
books, videos etc.,
It all started with a simple
desire – to have an engaging and fun resource for parents to teach their kids
about Indian culture and languages. In fact, that’s where the name Tamarind
Tots comes from. As you know, the Tamarind fruit is khatta (sour) and meetha
(sweet) at the same time. So, it represents fun and mischief, just like our
Our concept is unique
because it goes to the heart of how the young generation is learning. We are
using the latest technology of mobile apps, handheld devices such as smart
phones and tablets, and web based gaming. Any parent today will attest to the
fact that kids are very comfortable with and learning so much from iPhones
and iPads. It’s quite simple actually - these devices give kids a platform
where they can interact and “be a part of” the experience. So, be it learning
or entertainment, these touch driven, multimedia rich “toys” are very
Tamarind Tot’s apps are
unique in another way too. While our characters and settings are very
Indian at heart, they are also contemporary and modern so that Indian
kids, living anywhere in the world can relate to them. Furthermore, our
apps are multi-concept, which means that each app covers some
language elements, some culture elements and in the future you'll see other key
aspects of India visible in them. In short, we are trying to offer a
complete and enriching learning experience.
What specific apps/products are available today for the Global Indian
There are 3 apps available
for download today. Click each link to download the apps -Learn Colors, Diwali and Holi.
the search term “Tamarind Tots” to see all the apps available from this team!
Broadly, we are focusing on
two important areas - Indian culture and Indian languages. With respect to
culture, we want our little users to develop an overall mental image
of India. The idea is to learn about their proud Indian heritage with
topics such as monuments, dance forms, famous personalities, and experience the
sights, sounds, and colors of India “virtually”.
The other important element
is language. Right now we are focusing on early learning and building
a robust vocabulary of everyday words. For example, the Learn Colors with
Tamarind Tots app teaches kids 10 colors and 15+ everyday words in three
Indian languages – Hindi, Gujarati and Telugu, plus the same in English.
It also introduces them to some famous Indian monuments, all while
playing with our contemporary Indian characters and listening to beautiful
Indian instrumental music.
With each app, we will touch
on several of these elements so that kids learn about our amazing country in a
fun way, and in fact, without probably even realizing that they are learning
each time they play! We like to think of it as "sneaking in"
the learning through fun activities.
How can parents stay tuned to
the latest news and exciting offerings from Tamarind Tots?
We would like to start a
conversation and exchange of ideas among all Indian parents raising little
Global citizens around the world who are proud of their Indian heritage. We’d
love to hear about their experiences and challenges about raising
kids outside India. How are they teaching them their native tongue?
How do they celebrate the festivals?
Parents can stay connected
with us by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tamarindtots. They
can also email us at email@example.com and we’d love to share their stories
with the Tamarind Tots community.
We have many product
launches planned for the forthcoming months! So stay tuned!
Aarti and Shameeli, what is
your parting message to the contemporary Global Indian parents and youngsters?
We feel that there is a
strong common thread that ties all of us Indian parents around the world. And
that thread is the fact that we want our kids to feel connected with their
Indian roots. And, we are hungry for resources, tools, and ideas that will
allow us to do just that! With Tamarind Tots, we hope to make such a resource
and platform available to all Indian parents and their kids. The saying “It
takes a village to raise a child” is very apt when it comes to this task. Each
of the parents we talk to has amazing ideas on how best to pass along our
culture and traditions to our kids, and it would be wonderful to share these
ideas with each other. We need the help of the parent community to make this
Global exchange happen, and to help us make our products work for you! Please
like us on Facebook, and share your stories, ideas, and feedback with us. We
look forward to hearing from all of you!
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Many of us grew up in a world where festivals like Holi and Diwali were a big part of our life year after year. We learned about them from our family, friends, neighbors, and most importantly by being an active participant in all the fun and celebrations. Remember the days when the preparations for the festivities began days or even weeks in advance?
Take Holi for example, which is just around the corner. A certain joyous mood would permeate our homes and neighborhoods, as stalls selling Holi colors and gulaal sprung up by the roadside. The sweet smells of Gujiyas and Puranpoli would waft through the air. Kids would get busy collecting wood and sticks for the upcoming Holika dahan, and getting their pichkaris and colors ready for the big day.
Today’s children don’t seem to get the same wholesome experience though. It’s especially a growing challenge for those living outside of India and in big Indian metros. Many reasons contribute to this – lack of time, lack of resources and sometimes even the lack of a conducive environment. So us parents are left wondering - how to introduce our little onestoall these wonderful festivals? How to recreate the festive atmosphere that we grew up with? How can we help them share the customs and traditions with their friends? How can we make a lasting impression on this generation of cell phone toting, touchscreen savvy netizens?
Aarti Khanna and Shameeli Sinha may just have the answers to these questions. Classmates from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and ex-management consultants with McKinsey Co and IBM respectively, both are moms of young kids. Aarti is based in the U.S. and Shameeli lives in Hong Kong. With the arrival of their little ones, the duo faced the same challenges that many Indian parents encounter today. They felt a strong need to introduce their children and their children’s friends to the rich cultural heritage, festivals and languages of India. They began to look for new, innovative ways to help the kids stay connected with their Indian roots and identity. It was precisely this desire that led to the birth of Tamarind Tots!
Tamarind Tots creates fun, interactive learning apps about Indian culture and languages for mobile devices. This includes iPad, iPhone, and Android devices like Samsung phones and tablets. Their journey started with an app called ‘Diwali with Tamarind Tots’. Recently, they launched ‘Holi with Tamarind Tots’. Kids between the ages of 2 – 10 will find these apps very useful. Both Aarti and Shameeli have always believed in the mantra that “learning should be fun”. And that philosophy reflects very well in their products. The two apps let kids celebrate Diwali and Holi virtually on their handheld devices. Kids get toplay, have fun, and at the same time, learn about Indian traditions and languages.It’s certainly a win-winproposition!!
In the Holi app, kids can celebrate Holika dahan by making their very own bonfire on a starlit, full moon night. Then they can grab their pichkaaris, gulaal, and gubbare, and rack-up points as they play Holi with their three virtual Indian friends, Niki, Krish, and Tara! When they're done and hungry, they can find their way through the lotus maze and enjoy delicious Holi food. They can do all this and more with their very own personalized avatar! Along the way, children get to learn over 20 new Hindi words associated with Holi. Whenever a keyword is encountered, a voiceover and written text appears to help kids learn and internalize it.
Tamarind Tots is also on Facebook. It’s a great way to stay abreast of the latest news and offerings from this highly innovative company. Tamarind Tots Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/tamarindtots
Vandana Razdan, mother of a 5 yr old sums it up very well - "The Diwali &Holi apps by Tamarind Tots are great at getting kids to know the traditions around these two festivals....very cute characterization that appeals to the kids and keeps them coming back. The little ones then want to do as they see - so moms be warned that you will be getting requests for gujiyas and rangolis. There is a real dearth of engaging educational apps for Indian kids and looking forward to lots more from this talented duo!"
Happy Holi & Happy Learning! (err…playing that is)
LifeWay ProBugs Kefir is a totally fun and flavorful way to get your kids to consume their daily quota of dairy. It comes in a variety of flavors like Strawberry Banana split, Gooberry Pie, Slime Lime and Orange Cream. My kids (preschooler and toddler) have tried the first 2 flavors and absolutely love it! In fact, they demand it for their afternoon snack. The fun factor seems to be amplified by the fact that the drink comes in a squeezable pack. Just twist the seal out and kids are ready to suck the drink directly from the plastic spout. No mess, no fuss, great for snacking on the go.
The kefir is made with organic whole milk and contains live and active cultures of probiotic bacteria, which are essential to maintain a healthy digestive system. It is also rich in protein and calcium. It does have a little bit more sugar than I like in my kids’ snacks, but its not excessive. Honestly, if my kids are craving for a sweet snack, I much prefer this over cookies and other sugary treats.
While the kefir makers say that it is for kids, I very much enjoy an occasional indulgence myself. Give it a try and let us know what you think.