World Travelers Club

We started the Club of a sort for small kids (5-8yo) recently. It is slightly more than a themed playdate.
Here's how the last one went. It was about Russia and Maslenitsa - Russian end of winter holiday.

The kids came over, and were redirected from going straight to the playroom by having several activities set up on the table.

There was the Museum of Russian Crafts featuring birch bark containers, Zhostovo tray, Khohloma spoon, etc.

Here are some of the activities we had to chose from. Note that even the small kids were able to do them with minimal help.
The coins are clued onto the cardboard with double-sided tape.
The flags are labeled "Russia" on the back, which indicates top and bottom.
Colored dots on the front show which color to use where.
Russian coins to look at.
There were also Matryoshka dolls to play with, and a picture of Matryoshka dolls to color (in different sizes: 1/2 page for the youngest and 1/4 page for the older ones).

When everyone was here, I gathered the kids up to play "puppies and kittens". You start by asking the kids which sound the puppies and kittens make. Then you tell each child which animal he is going to be (I had foam shapes, so I just let the kids pick out one). They all disperse and start making the sound of their animal. The goal is for the kittens/puppies to find other kittens/puppies and gather together.
If there are more kids or to make the game more challenging you can use more animals, so instead of finding another 4 kids of the same kind, each kid has to find his pair. These games teach kids to listen carefully, and to distinguish sounds in the noisy room.

Next we played another game, which teaches kids to talk with their eyes. You start by sitting the kids in a circle. And tell them that it is possible to talk with just their eyes, but they have to be very quite. You need to look at another person till your eyes meet. When they do, you both should smile, stand up, shake hands and change your seats. It is more challenging than it sounds. But it works miracles in calming kids down.

And so I had them all sitting in a circle beside me ready to look and listen. I had my globe and an iPad with some pictures. It was a time for a short presentation about Russia. I showed them where Russia is, that it takes two continents. That the (bigger) Eastern or Asian part of Russia is called Siberia. I find it's easier to hold the attention of the small kids if I focus on only one thing. So for Russia I chose to talk about the Lake Baikal, the legend of Shaman Rock, nerpa seals and log houses.
a very visual way to show just how much bigger Russia is than USA
As soon as I noticed the kids getting wiggly, I moved on to the "How do you say this in Russian?" Q&A. The kids also got a paper with their name written in Russian. They used a talking alphabet toy to "type" and sound out their names. For some reason people find Cyrillic fascinating.

Next there was a play break while we cleaned the table and got snacks ready: home made blini with jam and fruit, sushki (Russian-style pretzels). The braver adults were offered to try Kvass, but not too many went for it.

After lunch activity was bookmark making. There were letter stencils (both Roman and Cyrillic), stickers. One side of the bookmark had a child's name in English, another - in Russian.

Everyone seemed to have a great time. I made a resources and ideas page to send home. It has a list of web resources to help find more information about Russia, book & movies recommendations, craft ideas and such.


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