Exploring Geography is a weekly feature showcasing cities, states, and countries in a child-friendly manner. Please email mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com if you are interested in contributing a guest post.
Today’s post comes from Natalie, who blogs at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. I love reading about the many activities she enjoys with her precocious daughter, and Anna’s quotes always make me laugh! Natalie hosts a weekly “What My Child Is Reading” linky, which is how I find most of our library books!
Even though I was born and grew up in Belarus, I am going to write the post about Russia, since Belorussian and Russian culture are very close, and most people in Belarus (myself included) grew up speaking Russian. So how can you introduce the biggest country of the world to your young children?
Books. Strangely, I didn’t find many good books for young kids about Russia, and believe me, I looked. A lot of fairy tales and folklore stories are describing Russia as it existed 100 years ago, and they have little to do with reality. Two of my favorite books that don’t feel too dated to me are How the Russian Snow Maiden Helped Santa Claus (obviously a Christmas story) and The Littlest Matryoshka. Of course, in true Russian literature tradition both books are rather long :)
Cartoons. Did you know there is a Russian version of Tom and Jerry? Conveniently, it is mostly wordless, so my daughter who doesn’t speak Russian can still enjoy it.. All Russian children of my generation grew up with it, and it’s still popular today. It’s called Nu Pogodi! (It means “Just You Wait”). You can watch all episodes on YouTube (search for Nu Pogodi).
Toys: Of course, the most famous toy that comes from Russia is matryoshka (a wooden nesting doll). Of course, my daughter has one (a present from my parents). Sometimes she “feeds” her matryoshkas by stuffing them full of odds and ends that magically transform into nutritious meals. If you don’t have matryoshka, you can craft one. This mini-matryoshka tutorial is lovely, and I am sure terrific crafters like MaryAnne can whip it up in no time at all. Speaking of crafts, Russians were always famous for their creativity and ability to do more with less. You can visit the Russian site called Strana Masterov (Country of Masters), and take a look. Of course, everything in Russian, but a lot of crafts come with very detailed photo tutorials that got even my own creative juices flowing. You can find instructions for these knitted creatures by clicking on the image.