Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Our most recent FIAR row (and our last for Volume 1) was Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk.  Amazon's synopsis of it reads, "Max, a celebrated dancing bear in the Moscow Circus, should have been carefree and contented.  But how could Max be happy when his friend, Boris, was miserable in his hospital job among the grouchy lions and teasing monkeys?  True friend that he is, Max resolves that Boris shall have a new and fulfilling career.  He, Max, will teach Boris how to dance."  It was a cute book and gave us the opportunity to learn more about Russian culture and dive into some fun activities!
(She loves to read the books to me!)
After our reading, we located Russia on our world map and globe, then read more about the country in this DK's Children's World Atlas by Dr. Kathleen Baker ("Russia and Kazakhstan," pages 78-79).
We used some of the great printables on Russia at
We did some more reading about Russia in The Usborne Book of Peoples of the World by Gillian Doherty and Anna Claybourne ("Russia," pages 70-71) ...
... A Visit to Russia and Ukraine by Mary Packard ...
... and Highlights' Top Secret Adventures' Guide to Russia by Mike March.
We then watched a fun travel video for Russian, narrated by kids, at (below) ...
... and a short video about St. Basil's Cathedral at (below).

We placed our story disk for this book on Moscow.
When Maggie's grandparents went to Russia, they brought her back this little wooden doll.  It was a perfect time to pull it out again!
Of course, Russia is known for its nesting dolls, or Matryoshka.  Here is an illustration from Another Celebrated Dancing Bear, with nesting bears.
I bought this little Matryoshka-like sewing kit at Michael's in the clearance section, just for this study.
We had fun sewing it together.
So sweet!  We hung it near our geography shelf.
Mags also had fun playing with these two little books I bought through Dover, Anastasia from Russia: Sticker Paper Doll and Russian Nesting Dolls Stickers.
In Another Celebrated Dancing Bear, Max and Boris have a snack of tea and toast with strawberry preserves.
We did the same!
Also in the book's illustrations, we noticed the onion domes that are characteristic of Russia, like the ones at St. Basil's Cathedral.
I challenged Mags to complete the dot to dot page of St. Basil's Cathedral in this Extreme Dot to Dot: Around the World by Mindware (page 11).  This particular puzzle has 950 dots!
It took her some time, but she rose to the challenge and finished it!  She was very proud!
At the suggestion of the FIAR manual, we printed and colored the onion domes in the Appendix.  We then chose a purple piece of construction paper to glue them onto (like an early night sky), and she drew in the remainder of the buildings in black crayon.
 It turned out great!
The book's title and content reference the famous dancing bears of the Moscow Circus.  Here are a few illustrations from the book.
We decided to find a video on YouTube of the real Russian circus bears.  We found this video of a Russian bear biker at (below) ...
... and this one of a Russian bear jump roping and dancing at (below).
We then read more about bears from our February 2017 issue of Zoobooks magazine, Bears.
In this issue, there was a picture of an Asian dancing bear.  We were sad to learn that cubs are taken from their mothers very early for training for this life.  It made us look at the dancing bears in a very different way.
It was time for an art project.  Before we started, we turned on this video, "The Best of Tchaikovsky" at (below), to listen to some Russian music while we worked.
The illustrations for Another Celebrated Dancing Bear were actually etchings.  I found a neat etching project using foil at  To start, we taped a piece of foil down onto a thin piece of cardboard.  Then, we mixed a small amount of dish soap into some black paint before painting our entire piece of foil.
It took a few hours, but we let it dry completely.
Once it was dry, Maggie used a toothpick to etch into the paint.  The result was very sparkly!
We couldn't study Russia without some Russian food!  We set out to make the "Cabbage Soup" and "Russian Buns" from The Five in a Row Cookbook (page 30) for dinner one night.  Here is Mags, prepping our rolls for baking!
Our cabbage soup!
Both looked and smelled delicious!
Dinner was a hit!  Maggie LOVED this soup.  She wouldn't stop talking about it.  I guess I'll be making this one again!
Another printable that we got from was this "What time is it in Moscow?" printable.
Using The World Clock at to find our answer, we learned that Moscow is seven hours ahead of us.
The book showed us that Russia sees a lot of snow.
The Russian "Teacakes" recipe in The Five in a Row Cookbook (page 30) was a perfect snack to go along with this snowy row!  Here is Maggie, rolling the teacakes.
 When they were done and covered in powdered sugar, they looked just like pretty little snowballs!
 They were really yummy, too!
Our last focus for this book study, then, was temperature.  Not only does Russia see cold, freezing temperatures, but Max heated his samovar in the book to boiling for tea.  This was a great opportunity to talk about boiling point and freezing point.  We used The Usborne Science Encyclopedia (page 111) to better understand these terms and the differences between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
We grabbed up this cute thermometer manipulative at Dollar Tree just this week.  Here, Mags is showing you that 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the same as 100 degrees Celsius, boiling point.
We decided to also put together the cute thermometer craft we found at, using a clear drinking straw and a red pipe cleaner glued onto a printout of a thermometer.
This little project was adorable!
Finally, we decided to have some fun with freezing point.  Using the instructions in our Time for Kids: Super Science Book (pages 60-61), we set out to make our own ice cream!
We got together everything we would need -- a large Ziploc bag, a small Ziploc bag, half & half, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, ice, newspaper, tape, and the things needed for measuring.
First, we mixed our ice cream ingredients (1 tsp sugar, 2 oz. half & half, and a dash of the vanilla extract).
Next, we filled up our large bag halfway with ice.  To the ice we added 1 cup of salt and then placed our ice cream bag into the center of the ice.
Once all was well sealed, we wrapped our bags into several sheets of newspaper (to keep our hands from freezing) and taped it all closed.
Time to shake!
We decided it was warmer and easier to shake it in a towel.
When our arms got tired, we laid it on the counter and rolled it hard, back and forth, to continue the shaking movements.
After 10 minutes, we had ice cream!
That's a happy face!
It was delicious!
Another great row is under our belts!  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear was a fun one and it wrapped up our study of Volume 1.  (We finished all of Volume 2 last week with A New Coat for Anna.)  Now, we have just six books left in Volume 3 which we will finish up this year.  Check back!

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