How to teach children Russian

50 WAYS TO TEACH CHILDREN RUSSIAN

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1 Get fairy tales and storybooks in Russian on Amazon or from your local library

Children love shared reading time and regardless of language acquisition they will always remember the time they spent with you reading books.Try to find books with good illustrations. Look at the pictures with your child, point to things they already know in Russian.

As you come across new words ask the child what they think it is. If it is illustrated, have them point it out on the page.Use different voices for different characters.If your child has a favorite Russian story encourage him/her to play different characters making up the words from memory. Help your child to use his/her imagination to change the story or change the ending.

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2 Use puppets or turn your child’s favorite plush toy into a puppet that talks in Russian

Kids love puppets and puppet play is great for motor skills. You can tell much loved stories through puppet play, either using the whole body or make a puppet theatre from a box and use hand or finger puppets. Finger puppets are also fun when singing songs.

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3 Go to the zoo and call the name of the animals together in Russian

If you have any, look at some animal books together, then go to the zoo for the day. Ask your child the names of the animals he/she has learned and point out the new ones. This is a great place to add in adjectives and colours. When you come home, encourage your child to draw pictures of what he/she saw and talk about them together using Russian.

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4 Play hide and seek by counting in Russian

Hide and seek is a great game for practicing numbers. You could start with 1 to 10 and gradually increase. When your child knows them well you could count down backwards. When ‘seeking’ your child it’s a good opportunity to repeat words without it sounding repetitive.

russian alphabet, russian phonics, learn russian, russian language,board game

5 Play board games in Russian e.g.: snakes and ladders, board games, family games

Dice games are always good for counting and also simple addition. Board games played with the whole family can be a time for relaxed learning. Just playing a simple board game such as snakes and ladders teaches a young child so much more than just language. They also learn rules of play, understanding goals and of course, that family games equal FUN!

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6 Play games by using flashcard games e.g.: Go fish, memory game

Flashcards are one of your most valuable resources in teaching language to young children. With multiples of the same cards you can play well-known games such as Go Fish or the ‘memory game’.

Very small children may struggle to hold too many cards, so play games that have the child match one card to another. Match a sound with a picture, or two cards that have the same sound, or two pictures that match, any way you choose.

Lay cards out on the floor or table and have your child touch the card as you call out words/sounds. Encourage your child to be the caller and you touch the cards. Keep it playful and fun.

 

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7 Have a progress chart that tracks the words and phrases your child mastered

A simple progress chart teaches your child clear goals and kids love stickers. Let your child know when he/she is approaching a goal, make a big deal of reaching the goals, be excited to getting the stickers out. Praise him/her for their achievement with a ‘great job’, a hug or a ‘high five’ (or all three).

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8 Listen to children’s songs in Russian together or reward your child for memorizing a short one

Listen to children’s songs in the 2nd language whenever and wherever you can. Keep CDs in the car or put a CD on quietly in the background when you are doing something else. Add actions to the songs, this helps kids remember the words. If it suits your child’s personality, encourage them to ‘perform’ songs for you. You could have a special ‘song night’.

Here is a playlist of Russian children’s songs

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9 Listen to pop songs in Russian together or reward your child for memorizing a short one

Teach your child some catchy pop songs that you both like. Something with suitable lyrics and a good chorus are easiest to remember. Sing it around the house as you do other things, when your child tries to join in, model the language and encourage them to sing with you.

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10 Find cartoons in the 2nd language on Youtube or Amazon

Cartoons are a great way to engage kids in the 2nd language. Kids can figure out the story visually without worrying about not understanding every word. It’s easy to buy DVDs from Amazon in almost any language or, alternatively, look for them on YouTube. Let your child guide you to which cartoons they like best. Watch them together and you will know which language to reinforce.

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11 Have an annual/monthly goal check list

Make a checklist of goals or ideas of where you want to be with the language learning over a year. Break it down into monthly mini-goals.

It will be help you stay focused on where you are going and also a great way to look back and see how far you and your child have come.

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12 Create youtube playlists or find playlists suitable for your child’s level

YouTube is a super resource. You can create playlists of Russian teaching videos, these days people post from all over the world.

They might be short tutorials, or craft ideas you can incorporate into your language learning, or children’s songs you can sing together. Look for playlists already put together by others with the same goal.

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13 Join online support groups (forums, facebook pages, twitter lists, multicultural blog groups etc.)

Join some online groups to exchange ideas and information. Support is invaluable too. Teaching Russian can hit some hurdles, it is important to be able to connect with people who are having the same difficulties or have successfully navigated these hurdles. Facebook and Twitter are great for immediate connections. Online chat groups or forums can give you a sense of community and common goals.

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14 Visit the website of Russia’s ministry of culture

Have a look at the website and find interesting information about Russia. Read about traditional food, dances and costumes. Look at statistics such as population. Find some fun facts about the climate, holidays and customs. Talk about them with your child and follow their lead on which parts they are interested in. You can also get all this information and more here

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15 Go to public libraries and check all the available resources in Russian

Libraries are an excellent resource. If they don’t have things things in Russian ask the librarian if it is possible to order them. Also check out the noticeboard and see if there are any kids groups speaking Russian in the area. You might make some new friends too.

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16 Make use of language learning DVDs for kids

Language DVDs come handy , especially fro busy parents, as they repeat useful words and phrases in a fun and interesting way Check them out, Look for something that is specifically for kids, that uses games and songs and has well-structured levels.

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17 Play CDs when driving your child to school

Always play CDs in Russian when you are in the car. It could be songs or a kids’ language learning CD, whatever your child likes. Do it consistently so your child comes to expect the 2nd language in the car.

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18 Play streaming radio in the background at home or make use of Spotify, Lastfm, etc.

Nowadays, there are a lot of resources that help you play streaming radio through personal electronic devices and laptops, etc. All you need is tuning into one of the local radio stations and have the radio or the song list play in the background all day long. Even if your child does not understand what has been spoken or the lyrics of the songs he/she will get used to the new sounds and intonation patterns.

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19 Make use of worksheets for beginners

There are a great many websites offering worksheets for beginners. Many are free and some you can pay monthly or a yearly fee. Kids love worksheets. Some may be simple coloring sheets (kids LOVE coloring), or sheets that help fine motor skills through pencil manipulation. Buy some stickers and put one on each sheet your child completes.

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20 Make use of Flashcards

There is no end to the fun to be had from playing games with flashcards even if you child is still too young to play a game that has structure and rules. You can make your own ‘games’ call out a card, have your child touch it/pick it up. ‘Hide’ the cards around the room and have your child find them and say what they are etc.

You can also put the flashcards up around the room. Change them each week in categories (animals/flowers/ fruit/etc. Look at them and say them often with your child. Ask them, “What’s this? / What’s that?”

Put them on your fridge with magnets or let your child do this.You call out the words and have them put them on.

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21 Get a picture dictionary to get started

A Children’s picture dictionary is a wonderful resource. Follow your child’s curiosity with it. Let him/her choose what he/she wants to know on any given day. Ask him/her more information about the words they do know. “What color is it?” “ Is it big or small? “ “Where does it live?” “What does it do?”

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22 Consider getting an alphabet book

Introduce your child to the shapes of letters with a simple alphabet book. This is especially useful if the Russian alphabet is different to that of the 1st language. For young learners, get a very simple, ‘starter’ book, also great for fine motor skills and pencil control.

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23 Think about kinesthetic learning (learning by doing). Coloring books, sketchbooks or DVDs that children watch and dance are great!

The research is in that kids learn best by doing (don’t we all?).

Anything that gets kids moving their bodies or their hands helps them to learn. Watch DVDs together, make up dances, put on ‘shows’, even dress up. Encourage your child’s inner artist with a sketchbook. Color, paint, draw, and talk about the colors and your child’s pictures in the 2nd language. Coloring in pictures is a very relaxing activity (you should do it too!) Kids tend to be very relaxed when they are coloring, a good time to make some general chitchat in Russian.

Mix paints and talk in Russian about how colors are made.

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24 Consider getting a reading pen

The very latest translation tool. A ‘reading pen’ scans and translates. The translated text appears on a small screen on the pen and can also provide audio pronunciation of words or full sentences.

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25 Find some talking or singing plush toys

There are so many talking toys on the market these days. Try one that says greetings in Russian (or multiple languages) or one that sings traditional songs/nursery rhymes from Russia.

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26 Make use of culture books prepared for little kids

Ready made ‘culture books’ are great for learning about different countries. Read them together, ask questions and encourage your child to ask lots of questions too. After reading one, you could make a simple one together using pictures from magazines, or encourage your child to draw pictures too. Gather information together at the library or from the internet.

27 Decorate your child’s room with learning posters (colors, numbers) or pictures from Russia (flag, the cities, etc.)

Get some large colorful posters to decorate your child’s room or the learning space you use. Point things out and ask questions, swap roles and have your child ask the questions too, this also helps model the pronunciation. Ask which is your child’s favorite poster and why?

Follow their lead on the things that interest them.

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28 Follow a simple syllabus prepared for kids

Use the simple syllabus prepared in your language learning system or make one yourself. Let your child know what it is so he/she can see what they will be doing. Children tend to do better when they know what is coming and what is expected of them.

29 Use stickers as rewards (stickers that say congratulations, wonderful, etc. in the 2nd language)

Kids love stickers! Use them liberally. Take praising your child as an opportunity to use the 2nd language. If you can find stickers with words of praise in the 2nd language use those and repeat the words a lot. Use a couple of words at first and add more as your child knows them.

30 Get some printed items related to the 2nd language: T-shirts, mugs, children’s silverware, etc.

If you have the opportunity to visit the 2nd language country buy goods with the language on. T-shirts, mugs and pens are useful as well as educational. Look for postcards, posters or bumper stickers with popular expressions on. Post these around your house.

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31 Arrange play dates or playgroups with other parents who want to teach their children Russian.

Try to find other parents encouraging their children to learn Russian, arrange to play together, go on picnics to the park or take a trip to a zoo or aquarium, great places to practice the language. Making new friends is of great benefit to you too!

 

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32 Video chat with friends and relatives who have a child that speaks Russian

Encourage video chat with other children you know, that speak Russian. It’s easy using Skype or Google Hangouts or something similar. Be nearby to help the conversation along. Be encouraging and resist the temptation to correct your child’s mistakes.

 

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33 Invite Grandma and Grandpa (who can speak Russian) to stay over

Spending time with grandparents is valuable to all parties anyway but spending time with grandparents who speak Russian is great for strengthening bonds and hearing natural language. Your child will come to associate Russian with feelings of love and security.

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34 Hire a short-term or full time nanny or caregiver that speaks Russian

If it is possible, consider hiring a nanny/caregiver/babysitter who speaks Russian. Even a few hours per week would make a difference (and give you a little free time!).

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35 Cook Russian recipes together with your child

Kids always want to be a ‘little helper’ in the kitchen. Cook some simple dishes from Russia together. Us the 2nd language for instructions, wash, cut, wipe, mix…. Name the ingredients in a natural way as you cook. Here are some Russian recipes

36 Go to community centers, cultural centers and temples with your child

Local places of interest are stimulating for your child and cultural centers often have exhibitions or music/dance performances. Look out for anything from Russia. Community centers are a great place to meet people, look at notice boards for anything from people interested or connected in some way to, Russian. You could even offer to do something yourself, give a talk about the country or a traditional dance etc.

37 Visit Russian supermarkets and Russian restaurants with your child

Go around a Russian supermarket and point out the foods from Russia. If your child is unfamiliar with them, ask questions. “How do you think it tastes?” “ Do you think this is hard/soft/crunchy/sweet/etc.?” If possible eat in ethnic restaurants. Talk about the food, how it is prepared, where it comes from.

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38 Have a word of the day activity

Pick a ‘word of the day’, you or your child could choose it, or have your child pick it at random from a pile of word cards. If the word is a noun, look for it around the house and when you go outside. Talk about where it might be found. If it is a verb, find ways to do the action either really or mime it, see if you can spot other people doing it? Or use adverbs and spend some time doing everything in the manner of the adverb, slowly/quickly/happily/etc.

39 Play Russian online language games (memory, click&tell, etc.) with your child

There are plenty of free online interactive language games for children. Find one that appeals to your child and encourage them to do a little every day. You can check out 3 different kinds of free Russian online language learning games here

 

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40 Try Skype lessons for children (may not be advised for infants and toddlers)

Many teachers are offering language lessons via Skype. Ask around and see if anyone can recommend a teacher to you. Sit in on the lesson too so you know what language to reinforce between lessons.

 

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41 Read bedtime stories in Russian to your child

Books, books, books. Kids love books and stories. Read stories in Russian before bed. Often when kids have heard a favorite story many times they know the words. Encourage your child to help tell the story.

42 Play Russian children’s games

Many children’s games are the same the world over, play kids games your child already knows in their 1st language but play it in the 2nd language. Paper, rock, scissors has many variations; play it in the 2nd language. Hopscotch, skipping games, clapping games etc. can all be played in any language. For more ideas have a look at the games in the different ‘countries and cultures’ at Dino Lingo (to the right of this post).

43 Get comic books & children’s magazines from Russia

Ask if a friend or relative overseas can send you comics or children’s magazines in Russian. Children’s magazines usually have lots of fun facts in them that you can talk about and further research. They also have quizzes and puzzles that are lots of fun to do.

44 Go to a national parade of the target culture

You could try to find where there is a large community of people from the target culture. They will no doubt have special events to celebrate the holidays of their country of origin. Take your child to their parades and festivals.

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45 Have a personalized notebook specially used for learning the2nd language(Don’t forget to use it to have your child draw whatever you say in the 2nd language

Let your child choose the notebook at the shop and decorate it anyway they want to make it special. Say words in Russian and have them draw pictures, or even write the word or the first letter, depending on what level they are at. Go back over the pictures every few days. Talk about the pictures and praise your child’s drawing skills.

46 Do local crafts

If you are a native speaker of Russian think about the crafts you did as a child and do them with your child (think also about how happy you were doing this activity with your own mother/father or your friends). Don’t worry if you have forgotten how, look on the Internet to refresh your memory. Perhaps you could send something your child makes to grandparents or relatives overseas.

47 Use chatting apps (WhatsApp, Line, etc.) to talk with friends and family who have same-aged children

Chatting apps are mobile and easy to use. Chat with friends in the 2nd who have children about the same age. Encourage your child to chat with them and their kids too. Ask their kids about themselves, their day etc. and encourage your child to talk about themselves.

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48 Sing lullabies in the 2nd language to put your baby asleep

Lullabies are so soothing for baby and parent. Sing some Russian lullabies to help your baby sleep. You can buy wind-up crib music at a baby store. Play the music and sing in the Russian. Establish is as a routine and enjoy the time holding your baby and knowing you are soothing him/her.

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49 Consider homeschooling by getting an online curriculum

More and more people are turning to homeschooling these days and there are plenty of resources online. Do some research and find something that suits you and your child. Depending on the school hours where you live, it may be possible for your child to attend the local school and follow a homeschooling curriculum.

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50 Send your child to a summer camp where he/she can study Russian in a short time.

Summer camp is a great experience for children. It is often their first extended time away from home and a chance to make lots of new friends and try a variety of activities for the first time. ‘Language’ camps for kids usually incorporate study with lots of games/crafts/activities related to the 2nd language culture. Look online or on the notice board in community centers and other public buildings.

 Russian Children’s books

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Russian Travel Destinations – Russian Culture for Kids

 

 

The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. The population of St. Petersburg is 5 million (as of October 2012). View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage.
Moscow is the political, scientific, historical, architectural and business center of Russia. Moscow is Russia’s capital city and is the largest city in the country. As of 2010, Moscow’s population was 10,562,099, which also makes it one of the top ten largest cities in the world. Because of its size, Moscow is one of the most influential cities in Russia.

 

Yekaterinburg (also spelled Ekaterinburg) is the tourist’s city, jam-packed with libraries, theaters and museums, plus seemingly out of place monuments that pay homage to entities like Michael Jackson and a keyboard. Yekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia (after Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and Novosibirsk). The population is about 1,425,000 (2012)
Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, situated in the European part of Russia on the banks of the Volga and the Kazanka Rivers. Kazan population is about 1,161,000 (2012). No matter your spiritual inclination, you simply must visit the Temple of All Religions, a Technicolor cultural center built by artist Ildar Khanov. Though still a work in progress, the “temple” is a feast for the eyes—and the spirit.

 

 

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Russian Songs for Children – Russian Culture for kids

1. London Bridge is Falling Down

Домик наш сгорел дотла, сгорел дотла, сгорел дотла,

Домик наш сгорел дотла,

Милый друг мой;

Будем строить новый дом…. новый дом  новый дом

Будем строить новый дом….

Милый друг мой;

Старый дуб в лесу сруби…

Дом из досок сколоти…

Деревянный дом сгорит…

Милый друг мой;

С речки глины принеси…

Из кирпичей ты дом сложи…

Ветер домик разнесет

Милый друг мой;

Из камней построим дом

Вместе будем жить мы в нем

Будет прочным этот дом…

Милый друг мой;

Не страшны ему ветра…

Не боится он огня…

Будет он стоять сто лет…

Милый друг мой;

 

2. Baa Baa Black Sheep

Эй, овечка,

Дашь ли ты мне шерсть

Да, сэр, да сэр, три мешочка есть

Один для хозяйки,

Второй тебе

Третий сынишке бе бе бе.

 

 3. If You’re Happy and You Know It

Если день твой был хорошим хлопай так (хлоп-хлоп)

Если день твой был хороший хлопай так (хлоп-хлоп)

Если день твой был хорошим то похлопай ты в ладощи

Если день твой был хорошим хлопай так (хлоп – хлоп)

Если весело с друзьями топай так (топ-топ)

Если весело с друзьями топай так (топ -топ)

Если весело с друзьями то потопай ты ногами

Если весело с друзьями топай так (топ-топ)

Если день твой был веселым крикни ХЭЙ! (Хэй Хэй!)

Если день твой был веселым крикни ХЭЙ! (Хэй Хэй!)

Если день твой был веселым,улыбнись и не будь соней

Если день твой был веселым крикни ХЭЙ!

Если день твой был хорошим делай так (хлоп-хлоп , топ-топ , Хэй Хэй!)

Если день твой был хорошим делай так (хлоп-хлоп , топ-топ , Хэй Хэй!)

Если день твой был хорошим топай пой хлопай в ладоши

Если день твой был хорошим делай так (хлоп-хлоп , топ-топ , Хэй Хэй!_

 

4. Itsy Bitsy Spider

Паучок дурачек по трубе гулял

Вдруг полился дождик и в лужу он упал

Солнышко вышло и тучки прогнало

Высушило лужи и паучка спасл

 

5. Old Mcdonald Had a Farm

На старой ферме дедушка ИаИаО

И у него коровушка Му Му Му Му МУ

МуМу здесь и МуМу там

Му здесь Му там

Повсюду Му Му МУ

На старой ферме дедушка ИаИаО

И у него барашки БеБереБебе

Бее Бее здесь и Бее Бее там

Бее здесь

Бее Там

Повсюду бее

МуМу здесь

и МуМу там

Всюду Му и всюду бее

На старой ферме дедушка

Иа Иа Йо

И у него там курочки Бак Бак Бак Бак Бак

бак Бак здесь

И бАк бак там

Бак Здесь Бак Там

Всюду бакбакбак

На старой ферме дедушка ИаИаЙо

И у него свинюшки там ХрюХрюХрю

Хрю Хрю здесь

Хрю Хрю Там

Хрю здесь

Хрю там

Всюду Хрю Хрю Хрю

Бее Бее здесь и Бее Бее там

Бее здесь

Бее Там

Повсюду бее

МуМу здесь

и МуМу там

Всюду Бее и всюду муу

На старой ферме дедушка Иа Иа Йо

И у него там гуси ГаГаГаГаГа

ГаГа здесь и ГаГа там

га здесь Га там

Всюду га га га

Хрю Хрю здесь

Хрю Хрю Там

Хрю здесь

Хрю там

Всюду Хрю Хрю Хрю

Бее Бее здесь и Бее Бее там

Бее здесь

Бее Там

Повсюду бее

МуМу здесь

и МуМу там

На старой ферме дедушка Иа Иа Йо

И у него там уточки Кря Кря Кря Кря

Кря Кря здесь

и Кря Кря там

Кря здесь

Кря там

И повсюду кря кря

На старой ферме дедушка ИаИаЙо

И у него свинюшки там Хрю Хрю Хрю Хрю Хрю

Хрю Хрю здесь

Хрю Хрю Там

Хрю здесь

Хрю там

Всюду Хрю Хрю Хрю

Бее Бее здесь и Бее Бее там

Бее здесь

Бее Там

Повсюду бее

МуМу здесь

и МуМу там

Всюду Бее и всюду муу

На старой ферме дедушка Иа Иа Йо

И у него там гуси ГаГаГаГаГа

ГаГа здесь и ГаГа там

га здесь Га там

Всюду га га га

Хрю Хрю здесь

Хрю Хрю Там

Хрю здесь

Хрю там

Всюду Хрю Хрю Хрю

Бее Бее здесь и Бее Бее там

Бее здесь

Бее Там

Повсюду бее

МуМу здесь

и МуМу там

На старой ферме дедушка Иа Иа Йо

И у него там уточки Кря Кря Кря Кря

Кря Кря здесь

и Кря Кря там

Кря здесь

Кря там

И повсюду кря кря

 

6. Pat a Cake Pat a Cake

Испеки нам тортик  . пекарь скорей

Станет всем нам веселей

Положи в печку и уже через час

Будет праздник для всех нас

Испеки нам тортик  . пекарь скорей

Станет всем нам веселей

Крема добавь и сиропом залей

Испеки нам тортик  . пекарь скорей

 

7. Row Row Row Your Boat

Шлеп Шлеп веслами

Лодочка плыви

Вниз по речке

В сказку нас неси

 

8. Six Little Ducks

Маленькие уточки плавают в пруду

Маленькие уточки играют в чехарду

А один с перышком ты посмотри

Крякает и плавает впереди

Кря кря кря

Посмотри

Крякает и плавает впереди

Маленькие уточки вниз по реке

Погулять поплыли налегке

А один с перышком ты посмотри

Крякает и плавает впереди

Кря кря кря

Посмотри

Крякает и плавает впереди

Маленькие уточки устали гулять

И пошли домой отдыхать

А один с перышком посмотри

Крякает и бежит всех впереди

Кря кря кря

Посмотри

Крякает и бежит всех впереди

 

9. The Wheels On the Bus

Едет автобус бип бип бип

бип бип бип

бип бип бип

Едет автобус бип бип бип

Цеелый день

Водитель в автобусе Фью Фью Фью

Фью Фью Фью

Фью Фью Фью

Водитель в автобусе Фью Фью Фью

Цеелый день

Дети в автобусе Ха ХА Ха

Ха ХА Ха Ха ХА Ха

Дети в автобусе Ха ХА Ха

Цеелый день

Мамы в автобусе Ш-Ш-Ш

Ш-Ш-Ш Ш-Ш-Ш

Мамы в автобусе Ш-Ш-Ш

Цеелый день

Колеса автобуса крутятся

Крутятся

Крутятся

Колеса Автобуса крутятся

Целый день

 

10.Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

В небе звездочка горит

И с луною говорит

На тебя с небес глядит

В колокольчики звонит

Колыбельную поет

И тебя в кровать зовет

 

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Russian Children’s Stories

Alexander Afanasyev (1826-1871) was a Russian author who collected and published over 600 Russian folktales and fairy tales, the largest collection of any person in the world!  He also published Russian Fairy Tales which was an 8 volume collection of tales based on the famous Grimm Brothers’ collection.

A famous character from many Russian and other Eastern European fairy tales is Baba Yaga.  She is an old witch that is said to live by the forest in a house that stands on a pair of giant chicken legs.  She is shown as being scary in stories. Often she is the villain, but in some stories she is helpful to the hero, too.

Other popular Russian children’s stories include those that are translated into English:

“Masha and the Bear” by M. Bulatov
“The Little Scarlet Flower” by Sergei Aksakov
“The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights” by Alexander Pushkin

There is also the collection of tales illustrated by Ivan Biliban:

“The Tale of Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire-bird and Grey Wolf”
“Vassilisa the Beautiful”
“Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka – The White Duck”
“The Frog Princess”

There is a popular “Oz” fantasy series in Russia. These books are based on L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and translated by Alexander Melentyevich Volkov.  The Wizard of the Emerald City and Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers are two of the first books in the series of five.

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Russian History – Russian Culture for kids

The early history of Russia is similar to many other countries with people moving to Russia and the start of kingdoms.  Russian became a large country when several cities merged into an empire. In the ninth century, a Scandinavian group of people (the Varangians) crossed the Baltic Sea to land in Eastern Europe. Led by Oleg, they took control over Kiev and helped make a trade route between Scandinavia and Russia that continued for over 300 years.

Oleg’s grandson Vladimir I was the ruler of this kingdom in 989, followed by Ysaroslav. When Ysaroslav died, there were many battles for power in Russia by different invaders.  The Mongols destroyed the major cities and made an Empire of the Golden Horde. Next, the Swedes and Livonians tried to take over Russia. Moscow became stronger.  Ivan IV helped make Russia a unified state.  His son Fyodor ruled, followed by Godunov who was made the King.  Poland took over next, and then the Romanov Dynasty for 300 more years until the Russian Revolution ended the role of the King.

Peter the Great tried to overtake the government and westernize the country.   He wanted to move the capital from Moscow to a new city on the Gulf of Finland.  He created St. Petersburg as this new capital.  Peter died in 1725 and Russia went through a number of rulers.

Finally, Catherine the Great came into power in 1761 and continued the changes.  She built museums, founded colleges and libraries.  She was succeeded by her son Paul I whose son succeeded him as Alexander I.  Napoleon, with half a million soldiers, tried to take over Russia. He had to retreat and Russia grew into a powerful country.

In the nineteenth century, Nicholas I and then Alexander II ruled.  Russia expanded its territory and power.  Nickolas II became the ruler when Japan attacked.  In 1912, the Social Democrats split into two groups:  the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The First World War occurred and with it, there were food shortages and an economic collapse.  Nicholas gave up the throne to his brother who also gave up this position.  There was now a provisional government under Prince Lvov and then under Alexandr Kerensky.  Finally, Lenin who led the Bolsheviks overtook the government. WW I ended, but for three years Russia fought with other groups of people within the country who wanted control.  In 1920, the Bolsheviks won.  People felt optimistic as there were some changes for the middle class and more freedoms for everyone.

Lenin died in 1924 and there was a struggle for power in the Communist Party.  Eventually, Stalin became the leader.  He began state-run farms and had the government control most parts of life including art and literature. People were not allowed to worship as they wanted.

World War II started and Russia was attacked in 1941.  Germans took over part of their land, but eventually the Russian army held the Germans from overtaking their capital and in 1944, the Russians pushed the Germans back to Poland.  Berlin fell and WW II ended.  The Soviet Union became even stronger with more territory and was the second great world power in the world, next to the United States.

Much of the country’s resources were put into the military and the Russian people’s lives suffered.  They were hungry and there were many freedoms taken away from them.  In 1953, Stalin died and Khruschev took over until he was ousted in 1964.

In the 1970s, Leonid Brezhnev became the next leader who tried to improve the living conditions for the people and to reach out to other countries to become friends. Yuri Andropov and then Konstantin Chernenko led next, until Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 became the ruler who stressed openness and restructuring. Open elections were held in 1989, and in 1991 there was a rapid series of revolutions leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Yeltsin became the new leader and by the end of the year, the Soviet Union was voted out of existence to be replaced by a Commonwealth of Independent States.  Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Flag on top of the Kremlin was replaced by the Russian tricolored flag.  The current President of Russia is Vladimir Putin who has helped Russia become stronger economically and has helped to gain more freedom for the Russian people.

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Russian Common Names – Russian Culture for kids

Russians have three names.  These are the first or given name (имя), the surname or family name (фамилия) and patronymic (отчество).  A patronymic is formed from the father’s first name with the help of the endings –ович and -евич for boys, and -овна and -евна for girls. For example, if Anatoly’s father is Viktor, he will be called Анатолий Викторович.

Common Boys’ Names and Variations

  1. Alexander (Sasha)

  2. Maxim (Max)

  3. Ivan (Vanya)

  4. Artyom (Tyoma)

  5. Dmitry (Dima)

  6. Nikita (Nik)

  7. Mikhail (Misha)

  8. Daniil (Danya)

  9. Yegor

  10. Andrey

Other common boys’ names are Vladimir, Sergei, Aleksei, Nikolai, Yury, Vasily, and Pyotr. Popular choices also include Ilya, Igor, Gennady, Boris, Evgeny, Pavel, Vadim, and Viktor are also quite popular.

Today, Old Slavic and old-fashioned Russian names are increasing in use.  These names are Makar, Zakhar, Prokhor, Valentin, Kuzma, Timofey, Nazar, and Taras.

Common Girls’ Names and Variations

1.   Elena (Lena, Alena, Alyona)
2.   Svetlana (Sveta)
3.   Olga (Olya)
4.   Tatiana (Tanya)
5.   Natasha (Natalya, Nata)
6.   Marina
7.   Irina (Ira)
8.   Anastasia (Nastya)
9.   Anna (Anya)
10. Oksana (Ksyusha)

Most Russian girls’ names come from Greek names and often have a name in English that is similar to it.  For example, Elena is “Helen” in English; and Natalya is “Natalie”.

Three girls’ names have the same meaning  for the name as the word in Russian. These are Nadezhda (hope), Lyubov (love) and Vera (faith).

In Russian, some names are used with suffixes that give the name a special “soft” meaning.  It’s not a nickname but a shorter/softer/affectionate form of the name. For example, the Russian name Elena:
Full form – Elena
Short form – Lena
Short/soft form – Lenka
Short/affectionate form – Lenochka
Full/affectionate form – Elenochka
Other forms –  Lenusya, Lenusik, Lenchik, Lenok, Alyona, Alyonka, Alyonushka, Alyonchik, Alena

All these forms have the root “len” which changes to “lyon” (pronounced as “l’on”) in “Alyona”.  “Elena” and “Alyona” appear to be different names, but in Russian they are seen as the same form.

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The Russian Language and Alphabet – Russian Culture for kids

Russian is the official language of Russia. Today, almost all (97%) of the public school students who live in Russia receive their education in the Russian language. 27 other languages are considered main languages throughout the different regions of Russia.  There are over 100 total languages spoken in the country of Russia, alone!

Russian is a Slavic language like Polish or Ukrainian.  Russian is the most widely-used Slavic language in the world.  This language uses a Cyrillic alphabet. The name “Cyrillic” is in honor of Cyril (a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church).

The Russian alphabet has 33 letters, 11 vowels, 20 consonants and 2 pronunciation signs.  This is how the Russian alphabet looks when you write it:

А, Б, В, Г, Д, Е, Ё, Ж, З, И, Й, К, Л, М, Н, О, П, Р, С, Т, У, Ф, Х, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я

15%, about 1 out of every 7 people in Russia, speak a foreign language in addition to Russian.  Most of these people speak English.  The other foreign languages spoken are German, French and Turkish.

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Russian Games and Toys – Russian Culture for kids

Matryoshka dolls are traditional Russian nesting dolls. A set of Matryoshka dolls consists of one hollow wooden doll that can be pulled apart to hold another doll of the same kind inside. That doll has another doll inside, etc.  These dolls are usually brightly painted. There can be 6-10 dolls that all fit inside the largest doll.

P’yatnitsa is a popular Russian card game.  It is just like the card game War.  It is usually played with two players.  All of the cards are dealt face down.  Both players turn their top cards over, face up. Whoever has the highest-ranking card collects both cards, returning them to the bottom of their stack. The player who runs out of their cards first, loses the game.

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Russian Cuisine – Russian Culture for kids

A traditional Russian meal consists of fish, potatoes, vegetables and bread.   Borscht, a soup made from beets, is a well-known traditional Russian food.

Tea and tea ceremonies are an important part of Russian culture.  Samovars are Russian tea water heaters. The samovar keeps the tea water hot, and then a spout is used to pour the hot water into a tea cup.  In Russian, the word samovar means “boils itself”.

Russian tea ceremonies make tea from a tea concentrate called zavarka.  A small amount of zavarka is first added to a cup along with hot water from the samovar.

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