Russia Unit Study Learning Resources
The current war between Russia and Ukraine peaked my childrens' interest in the two countries, so in following their lead and current interests, we decided to do a month long unit study on Russia - their culture, history, art, music, geography, and more.
As a teacher, grasping hold of a child's interests and using that interest to create wonderful moments of learning can be very effective. Studies have shown that we learn more when we are interested in the topic.
Coincidentally, our Universal Yums subscription just happened to send us an entire box of yummy Russian treats! That couldn't have worked out more perfectly. I like to base each month's geography study on the country that is included in our Universal Yums subscription, so it all worked out great. I'd imagine Universal Yums will be coming out with a Ukraine box very soon, so we are waiting to study Ukraine until we receive that box.
Each month we "travel the globe" to explore a new country. We "board an airplane" (our couch in our living room) while I dress up and pretend to be a quirky flight attendant. I check their passports and allow them to board the "plane". I turn on the In-Flight entertainment (a YouTube video for kids all about that country) while serving them their flight snacks, which usually consists of popcorn and a yummy drink. They absolutely love their "plane trips" and look forward to them so much! Once our flight lands (the YouTube video is over), we de-board and fill in the date they entered the country and put a sticker of that country's flag into their passport.
Then, we trade American dollars for that country's currency. They use the country's currency to buy prizes from our "School Store" throughout the month. So for Russia, using the Russian Rouble will engrain into their minds the name of the Russian currency. I doubt they will ever forget that in Russia they don't have dollars, but Roubles. And lastly, we open our Universal Yums box and try the tasty treats from the country as an exciting first experience in our new country. We do this over and over all year long visiting a new country every month.
The flight, currency exchange, and Universal yum box is how we spend our first day in each country. The following several weeks are filled with lessons and activities that have to do with the country of the month. Some of the things we do each month include geography activities, map work, sticker books, culture lessons, lessons on the country's history, we make that country's flag, we study composers, famous artists, and poets, and we listen to music, make crafts, and cook and bake popular recipes from each country.
The memories and fun we have is just priceless! Below are some of the resources we have used for studying Russia. I hope you find something that would be useful to you.
1. Layers of Learning
2. Galloping the Globe
The Galloping the Globe book includes fantastic resource ideas for teachers. This is not the type of curriculum that would be open and go style. It basically includes a resource list for teachers who are teaching about countries. This book has been invaluable to me! For each country it gives information and resource ideas for the following topics: geography, history and biographies, general references, literature, language arts, science, activities, bible, holidays and celebrations, travel and tourism. It also provides you with a map of each country and a printable flag of each country that the students can decorate. If you are doing a country study and you enjoy the process of building your own curriculum and planning your own lessons, then this book might be a really great resource for you.
3. Another Trip Around the World
Another Trip Around the World is another book that is a major player in our country studies. For each country included, this book provides fascinating facts about the country, language activities, common words in that country's language, recipes, various classroom activities and crafts, and also a flag and map printable. This book is another excellent resource.
4. Pixio Flags Magnetic Blocks
The Pixio Flags are tiny little magnetic blocks which are so fantastic for building the flag of the country you are studying....or just play with them to make any creation of your choice. Kind of addictive, and super fun for learning the flag of each country.
5. Peter the Great Book
If there is one non-fictional "history" storybook that you NEED for studying Russia, this Peter the Great book is it. We absolutely LOVED it. It's filled with interesting facts about Russian culture and who Peter the Great was and what he did for Russia. I planned on reading this book in two sittings, but it was so interesting we didn't want to stop! This book is an absolute MUST for your Russia Unit Study. One of our definite favorites.
6. Tchaikovsky Book
Another really great resource! In our Russia studies we are focusing on Tchaikovsky for our composer and music history. This book includes a biography of Tchaikovsky's life and helps kids learn about the composer in a fun way.
7. The Story Orchestra - The Sleeping Beauty
The Story Orchestra collection is simply gorgeous! The Sleeping Beauty Story Orchestra book features music by Tchaikovsky and was a really fun way to hear some of the Russian composer's music. The book tells the general story of Sleeping Beauty and you get to "Press the Note" on each page to hear a little excerpt of Tchaikovsky's music. These are so great and beautiful collector's items.
8. The Story Orchestra - The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky wrote the music for The Nutcracker, in addition to The Sleeping Beauty and just like the Sleeping Beauty book, this Story Orchestra version of The Nutcracker did not disappoint in the least. Add this one to your collection while studying Tchaikovsky's music during your Russian studies and you can read it again and again every Christmas.
9. Russian Tales
Add a little Russian literature to your studies with this gorgeous book of Russian Tales. A beautiful illustration is included at the beginning of each story. I like to read these aloud to my children while they color. This book is simply gorgeous and we love to hear folk tales from around the world!
10. Material World
The Material World book is really great for giving children an idea of how people live around the world. Each country includes several pages of photographs and information. They always feature a family from each country and include a photograph of that family with ALL of their belongings arranged outside their home. It's very interesting to see what types of items people own and what their homes look like. Also included are some stats about the country and information about the family and how they live using photographs of the featured family's daily life.
11. The Complete Book of Animals
To add a little science in the mix, we will be learning about animals that are native to this region like the Siberian Tiger and Bears. The Complete Book of Animals includes short snippets of information about animals around the world as well as reading comprehension questions to answer and sometimes an activity or book to read.
12. Global Art
The Global Art book includes fun art activities to go along with your country of study. Russian art activities in this book include a homemade Matryoshka Doll Box craft and a jeweled eggs craft to mimic the famous Faberge eggs.
13. Eat Your Way Around the World
While studying Russia, cook some dishes from the country to learn about their cuisine! The recipes in Eat Your Way Around the World includes dishes that are easy for kids to help with. Cooking ethnical dishes creates a great hands-on learning experience to make learning really fun. Dishes included for Russia in this book are Borscht (Beet Soup), Medianyky (Honey Cookies), and Beef Stroganoff, which is a dish I already make regularly and is one of my son's favorite dishes! My secret ingredient: ketchup! Just add a few swirls of ketchup for some great flavor.
14. Exploring World Geography Workbook
If you need to level-up your learning for a middle schooler, the Exploring World Geography book is great for that. The book includes concepts that are too advanced for elementary like: Physical geography of each continent, labeling physical features of continents (like mountains, islands, seas, rivers), a page dedicated to the rivers of the continent, a page focusing on the mountains of the continent, bodies of water, latitude and longitude exercises, climate, products and resources of the continents, vegetation, animals of continents, stats of each continent like population, major cities, major languages, major religions, traditional clothing, boundary maps, physical maps, and flags.
15. Rand McNally Classroom Atlas
I have several classroom atlases and I think I like The Rand McNally Classroom Atlas the best. Half of the book has information on the United States, but the rest of the book is really, very useful for studying each continent. It's a great resource for quickly pulling up maps of each country and continent.
16. Children Just Like Me
Children Just Like Me is a great book or introducing your children to other children from around the world. For Russia, this book features a boy named Yaroslav who is an eight year old boy who lives in Moscow. He loves to build with legos. The book shows how he dresses, what he likes to do, the apartment where he lives, how he says hello, and how he writes his name. This a great Social Studies resource for modern countries to give kids an idea of how other kids live throughout the world.
17. National Geographic World Atlas Sticker Book
We use the National Geographic Sticker Atlas of the World Activity Book as a quick activity to study the continent we are focusing on. We place the stickers that have something to do with our country of choice and read a few facts. It's just a quick and fun supplement activity.
18. Usborne Sticker Picture Atlas of the World
Another fun sticker book is this Sticker Picture Atlas by Usborne. We only use the stickers that have something to do with each country we are studying. It only takes a few minutes but it is a fun activity to learn a little extra about each country.
19. Usborne Lift the lap Picture Atlas
The Usborne Lift the Flap Picture Atlas is a hands on book, great for kinesthetic learners. My 3rd grader can lift the flaps and read this to my kindergartner as they learn about the country we are studying. For us, this is the type of book we don't typically read through all at once. We use this as a supplement to read a little extra about our country of choice. It includes fun hands-on learning as they lift the flap and read.
20. Window on the World
The Window on the World book is priceless if you are teaching from a Christian worldview. The book features one country at a time and talks about their beliefs as a nation as well as a little bit about the history of their religion. It really helps you to appreciate how freedom of religion is not guaranteed throughout the world. It also opens your eyes to the types of beliefs people have. It gives ideas for praying for each country - including what you can thank God for the good things that are happening in each country, and also what you can ask God to do for each country to help their faith to grow. If you are a teaching in a Christian homeschool or classroom, this book is an excellent addition!
21. Children's Atlas of God's World
Children's Atlas of God's World is another really fantastic resource! This book includes gorgeous geography and facts about the geography and culture of each country of study.
22. Five in a Row - Another Celebrated Dancing Bear
The Five in a Row curriculum is a classic for early education. The basic concept behind Five in a Row is that you read a classic storybook and you study features of the story in depth as a unit study style of learning. Such wonderful memories are created with this type of unit study. Another Celebrated Dancing Bear is a tale about a bear from the Moscow circus. Max, the circus bear, teaches his miserable friend, Boris, who is jealous of Max, how to dance for the circus! The Five in a Row curriculum studies various topics that have to do with the storybook including the geography and culture of Russia, occupations Social Studies study, hospitality, relationships, vocabulary, characterization, drama, titles in Language Arts, etchings, color in art, architecture, hours on a clock, seven days in a week, and the science behind the boiling point and freezing point. Basically, you take a classic story, read that story five times in a week, and study the various social studies, language arts, math, and science topics that have to do with that story. This is an excellent Five in a Row storybook study addition to add to your Russian studies!
23. Living in Russia Early Reader
If you have an early Reader around Level 2 or 3, the Living in Russia Level 2 Reader is great for them to practice their reading and at the same time learn about Russia.
24. Noisy Paint Box Book
Kandinsky was the artist that we studied for our Russia Unit Study. This Noisy Paint Box book helped learning about Kandinsky come alive for my elementary age kids. Rather than reading a boring biography, this historical fiction picture book allowed them to discover Kandinsky in a very unique way. After reading about how Kandinsky actually was able to "see" sound, we had our own little exercise of listening to a song of choice and we painted our own paintings of what we thought that sound would look like. It was a very fun hands on learning activity about the first abstract artist, Kandinsky!
25. Ivan the Informer Read-Aloud
If you are looking for a read-aloud novel about Russia that is suitable for young children, Ivan and the Informer is an excellent choice! My kindergartner was able to listen to this book, follow along, and none of the content disturbed him, and he can be very sensitive to that type of thing. The story is about a young Christian boy living in Russia experiencing persecution under the rise of Russian Communism. This novel paints a picture of the ways Christians suffered for their faith in Russia and helps teach us to appreciate our religious freedoms. It also instills the importance of doing what is right even when it is difficult.
26. Angel on the Square Read-Aloud
Another Read-Aloud option for a Russia Unit Study is Angel on the Square. This book is about a young girl who is the daughter to the lady in waiting of the last Empress of Russia in 1914 as Russia undergoes the fall into communism and becomes the USSR. From the viewpoint of a wealthy family, you follow along in the story and get to know the last Russian Czar and his family and you sympathize with what they experience as the Czar is overthrown and sent into exile, but at the same time you also sympathize with the poor and oppressed people of Russia. You get an understanding of both viewpoints and you learn, in a captivating way, about how Russia became the USSR and what it must have been like for both the poor and the wealthy at this time. This book was absolutely superb.
I hope you have enjoyed these resources for a Russia Unit Study! We spent a little over a month studying Russia, because there was just so much to learn. We had so much fun and learned an immense about the country's culture, arts, geography, and history.
If you like this post and want to ask a question or submit a suggestion, comment below. I would love to hear about activities, games, or books that you have used for your own Russia Unit Study and that have been effective in your own homeschool!
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