We decided to spend a little extra time in Russia and the former USSR, our destination for weeks 8 and 9 of our curriculum, Winter Promise’s Children Around the World. Sonlight’s Core F, which our 6th grader, Bignificent, asked to do this year in addition to her Winter Promise work, spends 3 weeks in Russia and the former USSR, while Winter Promise spends one week in Russia and one in Romania and Eastern Europe, so we decided to take our time as there are so many countries and cultures here to explore and this is the first topic she has really had to do full double-duty on.
Our study of Russia has been one of my favorite that we’ve done so far this year. The girls really got excited about putting together a “show” for our cultural gathering, especially when I mentioned costumes. They each chose a famous Russian woman, learned a little bit about them, dressed up as them, and gave us a little speech telling us about themselves and making us guess who they were.
They also got very excited about Russian ballet. I think someone was wearing a tutu for at least part of every single school day this week! So, of course, a demonstration of some ballet moves made it into the presentation at the cultural gathering as well. We also watched The Nutcracker on YouTube after dinner.
Speaking of dinner, we tried our hand at making borscht and Russian rye bread, both of which were yummy. For dessert, we had buckwheat blini and topped them with berries and cream. Delicious!
Russia was the first country we have studied that uses a non-Roman script for their language. My kids were fascinated by the Cyrillic alphabet, and we watched this YouTube video of the Russian alphabet song on Russia’s version of Sesame Street so many times that I lost count.
My favorite activity was making grid drawings and paintings of St. Basil’s Cathedral. The two younger girls, ages 8 and 5, opted to do theirs on a sheet of paper, while the 11 year old decided to paint, using the tiles on our driveway for her grid. Her painting turned out amazing and was an amazing decoration to greet our friends who joined us for our cultural gathering! We kept it there for all the weeks that we studied this area and then scrubbed it down to wash it away.
We were all amazed at the distance covered by the Trans-Siberian railroad, and a friend on facebook just happened to share this Vimeo video about it while we were studying it. This one got watched over and over as well.
Our week on Romania and Eastern Europe was a little more laid-back but also really fun. For some reason, Winter Promise didn’t schedule the book Hidden Tales from Eastern Europe until the last day of Romania and then it goes on into the next weeks about Spain, Portugal, and Italy even though all the stories are about Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch this in time. Next time we do this curriculum, we will move it forward and read it these weeks. My kids loved this book, by the way! They all, the 2-year old included, listened with rapt attention, and asked for several of the stories to be re-read throughout the week.
Another book that Winter Promise didn’t schedule until the Spain week is the book Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World by Garth Sundem. There are two terrific stories in this book about Eastern Europe that I highly recommend be read while studying it: one about an orphan from Romania and one about two boys uniting for peace in Croatia. All my kids (and I) were quite moved by both of these stories. We are looking forward to reading the rest of these stories as we study the places in which they are set.
We really enjoyed learning about Romanian art forms including Horezu roosters, point lace designs, Martisor charms, and embroidery. These really captured my girls’ imaginations and they enjoyed designing their own patterns to embroider.
As usual, I’ll end this post with the books we particularly enjoyed this week that were related to our theme. The affiliate links will take you to Amazon in case you are interested in any of them.
- Pray for the World – This new prayer resource from OM was designed to be more friendly for readers for whom English is not the first language, but as such, it is much more kid-friendly than the traditional Operation World, which I’ve found to be too much for my kids. This one is perfect for us!
- Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
- The Mystery at Dracula’s Castle: Transylvania, Romania (Around the World in 80 Mysteries) by Carole Marsh – I had no intention of exploring Transylvania at all, but my kids love these mysteries written by Carole Marsh, so when they found one for Romania, they begged me to let them read it. Since I’ve read several of Marsh’s books and trust how she handles things, I let them read it and they enjoyed it very much.
- To Be a Gypsy (Heart of the Romani Book 1) by Dana Palladino – My 11-year old read this one and loved it.
I think that wraps things up for our studies of Russia and the former USSR. We could have spent even longer there; we enjoyed it so much! How about you? Have you studied this area with your kids before? What were the highlights for you?
We’ll see you next week for Spain and Portugal!