Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Around the World Tea Parties: Russia

In December, my oldest daughter requested that we do an around the world unit when we went back to school.The main curriculum we use is called Five in a Row. It's composed of week-long units based on  picture books. Each day you read the book and do different activities in social studies, language arts, art, science, and math. We have encountered so many new and lovely books through this curriculum. I love that we can learn together as a family. The kids enjoy it so much. It's also one of the most affordable homeschool curricula out of there, so I highly recommend it.
Since Five in a Row is very flexible with what order you study the books, it was really easy to put together our Around the World unit. Since Ella wanted to start with Russia, we pulled out a book we had done last year called Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk. I wasn't sure about repeating a book, but the kids had no problem at all. Whereas last year, we had focused more on the circus elements of the book, this year we dove into Russian culture learning about the Russian people, Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Serge Prokofiev, and Russian dancing. We also tried our hand at etching for art using a crayon and watercolor etching technique.

Since our girls love tea parties, we decided to do a special tea party for each country we studied. Of course, they had to dress up. Our kids believe that any lesson is better learned in costume. They wore red dresses and babushkas.
When I was in high school, a cousin of mine gave our family a beautiful blue Soviet tea set, which we used.We decorated with some Matroyshka dolls my husband had bought in Russia and a Ukrainian cloth a friend had given me. We made a Russian brown bread and the girls helped me shape it into a bear just like Boris and Max in the book. He turned out great.

Since our friend, Susannah, was visiting that weekend, our tea turned into more of a feast. We had several kinds of pickles, olives, sausage, cheese and crackers. We also served cheese blintz, strawberry preserves, and Russian tea cakes. We made spiced tea to drink and the adults even tried stirring jam into ours like they do in Russia. The kids preferred sugar cubes.

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