Shilp Khel Edu.

“The winner sows hatred, the loser suffers.
Let go of winning and losing and find joy.
~ The Buddha Dhammapada

Shilp Khel Logo by daras

Shilp (Craft) Khel (Game) is an alternative education project that integrates craft & games to develop an experiential learning environment for kids.

Children simply need a nourish able environment in life to explore their innermost being and evolve through diverse paths and patterns of learning. There are many lessons that we can learn from children. To observe and understand their innate qualities is much more important than to teach them. To acknowledge and appreciate their natural abilities is much more important than to dictate them. To be able to create a healthy environment for kids, It is more important to observe how they grow.

In whatever culture we grow, an appreciable part of our life’s learning has been in childhood through plays, frolicking around and being engaged in simple games. Later in our lives we actualize the experience of our subconscious being.

Every activity we do (or consciously engage in) blossoms our inner potential, creative skills, holistic thinking and understanding. The kind of experiments we do, environments we explore, stories we hear or the games we play in childhood, nourish a lot of qualities and values and in us.

Daras @ chirag school

A memory from Chirag School / June-July 2017 / Simayal, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India.

The purpose of Shilp Khel is to create ample learning opportunities for kids through various art & play activities.

At all levels (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual); Playing inculcates therapeutic effect on us. Freedom in playing and engagement in the creative process helps us discover our innate nature, dreams, ideas, interest and skills that we can use to accomplish our task during our stay on earth.

The purpose of creating open-ended art processes & flexible game spaces is to encourage the natural learning flow of children and appreciate their unique journey of exploration.

Children are allowed to loosen up, play freely, exchange ideas, share knowledge and skills to create their journeys in their own way and at their own pace.

The experiential engagement in the process is much more importance than expecting specific results.


1. Freedom in Exploration of Ideas, Skills and Knowledge.

2. Experiential Learning: Observe – Experience – Discover – Analyze – Imagine – Invent – Evolve – Organize – Express & Reflect.

3. Growth through all Learning Modalities: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing & Kinesthetic.

4. To acknowledge & appreciate their Inherent Qualities and support their Intuitive patterns of growth. 

5. To encourage their Independent Thinking and support their Self-Directed Learning Journey.

6. To nurture their abilities of making choice (without any imposition) and help them reflect upon their relative responsibilities.



To encourage children to delve independently in the activities of their choice, so that they can listen to their inner call, explore freely and understand their own nature, expressions, capacities and challenges in the work processes.


To encourage children to work with a group in a collaborative spirit to learn, exchange and co-create ideas, skills and knowledge for the growth of all.

  • Spontaneous Exercises and Plays: Direct Encounter with uncertain life situations.
  • Interactions, Storytelling & Conversations with kids in context of their learning objectives.
  • Introducing Activities & Explaining flexible work processes.
  • Experimentation & Creative Challenges: Breaking Steps & Creating new learning patterns.
  • Contextual Exposure after the initial round of their own imaginative or experimental exploration.
  • Integrated (Multi-layered) Work Processes: Activities within Activities.
  • Asking Relevant Questions & synchronizing with the flow of their experiences and explorations.
  • Reflection, Self-Observation & Introspection.
  • Self-Assessment & Self Remarks: To help them understand what qualities and strength they have and what improvement they need.


  • Active Physical Plays: experiential 
  • Craft Process in Plays: imaginative & creative
  • Multi Dimensional Plays: intuitions & felt-sense
  • Values in the Play: trust, care & compassion

Activity 1: Nature Art.

It begins with the observation of Nature (both inside and outside). We must spend a lot of time to watch and observe how nature grows in and around us… the space, forms, lines, patterns, surfaces, textures and movement of elements… the gravity, the friction, the temperature,  the growth and the decay that happens in the nature.

We must learn to play with different natural elements (like soil, water, fire, woods, stone, dray grass, seeds, etc.) to create or manifest different ideas, thoughts and understanding of our lives.

Here we can Study Visual Design Theory: Elements & Principles of Composition.
& Watch a Film: (Suggested Film) Rivers and Tides (Works of an Artist_ Andy Goldsworthy)

Activity 2: Craft Making & Installations.

Understanding Materials & Learning to work with them:
Learning different skills and processes like Joinery, Tie-Dyeing, Upcycling, Clay Modelling, Pottery, Carpentry, Bending, Molding, Folding (Origami & Other Paper Craft), Ink Making, Yarn Making, Weaving, Stitching, Embroidery etc.

Pioneering Projects (of Scout Movement): the art of using ropes and bamboo (or wooden spars) joined by lashings and knots to create a structures. Pioneering can be used for making small structure as well as larger bridges and towers.

Activity 3: Drawing, Painting & Visual Art Design

Drawing & Painting with different materials on different surfaces.
(pencil on paper, chalk on floors, mud/lime on walls, herbal colors on fabric, etc.)

Activity 4: Creative Writing, Story Telling, Singing and Sound Explorations.

Understanding the meaning and the sense of words we use in different situations.
Understanding the context and the impact of different languages in human culture.
Understanding the connection of our emotions with the quality of our speech.
Feeling and observing the impact of musical rhythms and tones on our psyche.
Recognizing true emotion and feelings in all natural expressions.

Thought Explorations: Poetry or Paragraph Writing, Art of Recitation & Story Telling.
Sound Explorations: Voice Modulations, Gibberish, Eurhythmics, Rhythm Compositions.

Activity 5: Action, Movements & Performance Art

Self exploration through the diverse work processes:
Exploration of Deeper Thoughts, Emotions and Feelings through diverse Actions, Movements, Gestures, Mirroring, Centering, Balancing, Composing & Performing Out.

Activity 6: Photo & Film Art 

Understanding Culture, People, Mood, Memory and Dreams.
Developing Photo Narratives: of different Stories & Characters

Study the art of Light & Shadow.
Study the art of Listening Sounds and Understanding Rhythms.

Software: Coral Draw + Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator & Premiere Pro, etc.

Activity 7: Physical & Cognitive Games.

Physical Hunt: for improving the strength, flexibility, stamina, endurance and mind-body coordination through Fine Motor & Gross Motor Movements.

Cognitive Hunt: Multi Dimensional Space of Exploration> Permutation & Combinations> Probabilities> Mind Mapping> Logical Reasoning> Exploration through Numbers, Scale, Weight, Force, Distance, Sequence, Series, Order, Classification, Estimation & Measurements.

Activity 8: Sensory & Therapeutic Plays

Create various activities by Including all sensory modalities (see, smell, taste, hear & touch) to learning and grow the bio-intelligence that helps in creating a healthy ecosystem inside and outside our physical being.

Can be explored through meditative cooking and eating.  

Activity 9: Adventurous Thrills & Challenges.

To work on Strength, Flexibility, Balance & Endurance.

Awareness Through Body: Yoga, Movement Exercises, Slack lining, Juggling, Fencing, Aerobics, Skating, Hiking, Trekking, Climbing, etc.

Activity 10: Open Sessions & Tours

Environment, Ecology & Biodiversity – Life Science – Culture & Traditions – Spiritual Wisdom – Human Values – Gardening, Natural Farming & Permaculture – Nature Cure – Healthy Cooking & Food Cultures – Natural Medicine, First Aid & Therapeutic Practices – Natural Clothing & Eco-Friendly Product Development – Earth Architecture – Sustainability – Waste Management – Environmentally Sound System & Technology – Geography & Astronomy – Weather & Climates – Gift Economy & Positive Journalism.


Some Observations of Activity: Nature Art at Chirag School. 

  1. Kids were happy, energetic and full of vigor while observing, discovering and collecting natural materials that they had never noticed before. A beautiful pattern on leaves, flowers that bloom every summer, pine cones which were lying unnoticed for months, interesting forms and textures created by water on stones etc.
  2. Working in teams they were learning how to carry stones from one point to another, how to tie things with pine needles, how to hold or fix stones and sticks in mud, how to compose rhythmic patterns and make stable structure forms.
  3. Their natural visual perception or aesthetic sense could also be seen in their selection & composition of leaves, twigs and stones with beautiful forms, colors, textures & patterns on them.

4. It is also observed that all kids were not interested in the creative process, few were just observing things around & wanted to do something else, few of them were changing their work & their groups throughout & few of them were just lost.

We, facilitators (with love & trust) must keep learning how children learns?
It helps us understand different learning approaches of children & we can design more effective
learning processes for different children. 

We must always understand, why kids come to us? Do they come to learn a new skill or to seek or understand some new knowledge of life? We must learn to bridge their query with their practical life context.

We must always be mindful about our learning values, we must remember that mostly most of the kids learn (imitate/get influenced) from our behavior or attitude than ours words or knowledge. 


Following are some suggested options for Collaborative Learning Activities:

  1. Nature artist can collaborate with the craftsman.
  • Painting on different surfaces or objects.
  • Art installations using natural material or recycle products.
  • Designing a set/stage for any performance art.

2. Photographer/Film makers can document work process of other artists working on field.

  • Take interviews, shoot a story or performance & make a short film.
  • Photo Series – Conceptual photo essay.

3. Cognitive + Physical + Sensory + Math Games Designers can collaborate & create different games.

  • Games that requires – Body, Mind, Senses, Imagination & Thoughts.
  • Games with new rules, creative processes & innovative levels.

4. Poets can write new poems or songs & collaborate with musicians.

  • Musicians can design new musical instruments and create new sound trails.
  • Theater Artist can create new characters and write an stage plays.
  • Writers + Musicians + Dancers + Theater Artist can collaborate and prepare a theatrical play.


Formative Assessment through Reflection:
Qualitative Record

Self Questioning: Before Activity

Why we chose what we chose?
What is our Purpose, Plan & Goal?
What Steps shall we follow?
What are our requirements?

Self Questioning: During Activity

What problems & challenges are we facing?
How would we find a solution?
How long would it take to complete our task?

Self Questioning: After Activity

What knowledge & skills have we gained & shared?
What qualities do we have & What Improvements do we need?

Final Reflections: Overall experience of activities.