It’s time for another Around the World Party. This week we’re heading to Russia to explore its rich history and culture. From the vibrant domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral to the fairytale forests of Russia’s countryside, there’s so much to explore in this vast country. Poydem (let’s go)!
Paper Kokoshniks and Tubeteikas
Instructions: Download PDF
There are over 100 ethnic groups within Russia. This ethnic diversity is reflected in the wide range of traditional clothing found throughout Russia. Many items draw on the ethnic history of the region. A kokoshnik is a traditional headdress worn by Russian women on special occasions. It’s usually worn with a sarafan, which is a long, trapeze-shaped jumper dress. They come in a variety of styles but are often crest shaped. Tubeteikas are short, rounded skullcaps worn mostly by men in the Muslim-populated regions of Russia, such as Tatarstan. In the picture below you can see one that my sister-in-law brought back from Kazan. Both items are often embellished with intricate embroidery and appliqués.
This craft is my own brainchild. The instructions are fairly basic, so feel free to experiment with different shapes, designs, etc. A responsible adult who knows how to use a hot glue gun should make the headdress or hat. We don’t want the kiddos getting injured. Besides, the decorating is the fun part anyway.
Source: Meijo’s Joy
Babushka is the Russian word for old woman or grandmother. Similar to other cultures, a babushka is often viewed as a strong matriarch and a central figure within the Russian family. Grandmothers often play a vital role in raising children in Russia, sometimes dedicating all their time to raising grandchildren. For that reason a babushka has become a very powerful, emotional symbol. Because everybody loves grandma!
I was so impressed when I found this origami tutorial. It’s perfect for kids that might not be quite old enough to paint their own nesting dolls but still want to join in on the fun. It also much cheaper. Overall, this is a simple, adorable project with endless possibilities.
Purchased on Amazon
Also known as a matryoshka or babushka dolls, nesting dolls have become synonymous with Russian culture. The first nesting doll was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design made by Sergey Malyutin. The dolls gained popularity after they won bronze at the Exposition Universelle world’s fair in Paris in 1900. Often painted to look like a woman in traditional clothing, nesting dolls traditionally represented motherhood and family.
You can buy sets with design templates you can trace on. I decided to go with ones without because they were cheaper. While the paint can get a bit messy, this project is so much fun, especially for artsy kids.
Russian Tea Party
Recipe Source: Cooking Melangery
Given it’s often frigid climate, it’s no surprise that tea is one of the most popular drinks in Russia. Tea is an integral part of Russian culture. Russian tea parties often feature a samovar, which is a metal container used to heat and boil water for tea. While the preparation of tea can vary, usually lemon, sugar, honey, or jam is added to it. For kids, I recommend going with mint and berry herbal teas rather than the typical black tea. I know my niece and nephew certainly don’t need the extra caffeine.
A tea party isn’t complete without some sort of cake or treat. For our tea party I made apple sharlotka, which is a cake similar to sponge cake. The recipe I used is from Cooking Melangery. Yelena’s blog is full of an assortment of stunning recipes! She also has a whole section of her blog dedicated to Russian cuisine that you should definitely check out. My cake wasn’t quite as beautiful as hers but was still delicious! If you don’t have time to make a traditional recipe, any sort of cake, cookie, or treat will do. It’s spending quality time together that’s most important *cue obligatory awwing*.
Source: 9 Soviet Children’s Yard Games
After all that cake and tea, it time to run around and play some games. The site linked above has some great Russian children’s games to try. Most of the games are for larger groups, but there are a couple that work with a smaller number. Vishibali (Russian dodgeball) and Cossack and Thieves were some of our favorites.
For entertainment, head over to Netflix and watch Masha and the Bear. It’s a cartoon that’s loosely based on the Russian folktale “Masha and the Bear”. The show follows the antics of a precocious little girl named Masha, and the attempts of an old bear to keep her out of trouble. My niece, who reminds me a lot of Masha coincidentally, loves this cartoon. Even my nephew likes it. If you don’t have Netflix, you can find some of the episodes on YouTube.
Pretend Passport Russia Stamp