Sunday, September 17, 2017


The first country we tackled in Europe was Russia, one of the few countries that is actually on two continents!  I find this so interesting.  We used our Galloping the Globe guide (as we do with every World Geography lesson) to keep us on track.
We had already previously studied Russia a bit when we rowed our Five in a Row (FIAR) book from Volume 1, Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk.  That post can be found at  Here are a few pictures from that post.

We had sewn this sweet, little Matryoshka doll together ...
 ... created a picture featuring Russia's signature onion domes ...
... and made and snacked on delicious Russian teacakes!  (These were so delicious.)

Day 1 - Russia (General Geography, Native Animals and Plants)

For this study of Russia, we started by stamping our travel trunk and coloring the country on our Europe map in our binder.  (We color each country a different color as we study it.)  And I just love this travel trunk idea.  I can't wait to see it all filled up!
We then started working on our our two country reports (something we do for every country we delve into), using Usborne's Flags Sticker Book to fill in the space for Russia's flag.
Here is a picture of our completed sheets after the week.  (We learn about and add a bit each day.)
We read about this vast country on pages 78-79 of DK's Children's World Atlas ...
 ... and looked at the icon maps on pages 7 and 10-11 of this Usborne Lift-the-flap Picture Atlas.
I mean, how great is this book??  Maggie loves it.
We then read and colored the "Russia" map from Dover's Around the World Coloring Book by Winky Adams.  (These are great and we add each map to our binder when we're done.)
Next, we completed glossary pages for "crater" and "tundra" (I love seeing her pictures) ...
... before studying the animals native to Russia.  We read pages 74-75 of Usborne World of Animals, noting the brown bears we had learned about before.
We then reread Another Celebrated Dancing Bear ...
... before putting together the brown bear mask from this Wild Animals 3D masks activity book.
(These are so easy to put together and look so realistic!)
To wrap up Day 1, we cracked open our Top Secret Adventures' envelope for Russia ("Case #07042: The Menace in Moscow") and got to work!
These may just be her favorite part of World Geography.  She LOVES earning her country key chains for cracking these cases!  And I love how thorough they are.

Day 2 - Russia (Famous People and Landmarks)

For our second day studying Russia, we focused on the famous people and landmarks of that country.  To start, we learned about Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, and Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space, what Russia calls a "cosmonaut").  We also reviewed what we knew of Peter Tchaikovsky, who we studied with Another Celerated Dancing Bear.  While we read about these people, we listened to Tchaikovsky's works on YouTube at (below).
All of these people were added to our country reports.

After that, we read about Moscow and St. Petersburg in this Pocket Books: Cities of the World (pages 90-91) ...
 ... and about St. Basil's Cathedral on pages 23-26 of Buildings, Bridges, and Landmarks: A Complete History.
 We then read about "Mount Elbrus" on page 50 and Lake Baikal on page 92 of this Pocket Books: Natural Wonders book.
All of these places were added to our country reports and Maggie decided she would complete her project for presenting at our co-op on Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world and home to the world's only freshwater seal, the Nerpa seal (also called the "Baikal seal").  We wrapped up Day 2 by doing some more work on her Top Secret Adventures' case.

Day 3 - Russia (Culture, Project Prep)

Our study of Russia was shorter than some of our other country studies for two reasons.  For one, we had studied it prior.  Two, we had our family vacation planned this week, so we had to fit a lot into three days.  On Day 3, we studied Russia's culture, as well as put together our presentation for co-op.  To start, we read pages 30-31 of Children Just Like Me ... 
... and A Visit to Russia and Ukraine by Mary Packard.
We then read pages 148-149 of Window on the World and prayed for the Russian people.
 We read about Russian food on pages 58-60 of Eat Your Way Around the World and updated our country reports.  (Maggie was repulsed when she read about borscht, appalled that anyone would ever make a soup out of beets.)
We enjoyed the Russian dolls my mom gave to Maggie ...
... and then dressed the Russian paper doll using this Dover Anastasia from Russia: Sticker Paper Doll sticker book.  (These are so sweet.)
We then completed our Top Secret Adventures' case for Russia and Maggie earned her next key chain.  Just look at that grin!
She can't wait to fill her ring up!
Finally, it was time to complete her presentation on Lake Baikal.  Here she is drawing a picture of the lake with the Nerpa seal sunbathing alongside it, on the front of her project sheets.
Lake Baikal is the eighth largest lake in the world.  We took those eight lakes, researched their depths, and created a bar graph so we could compare and contrast visually.
Here is the front of her project sheets ...
 ... and the inside.  This activity was fun!  (These, too, went into her binder after our co-op.)
We then read a couple of Russian stories -- "Baba Yaga, the Witch" out of Usborne's Stories From Around the World book ...
... and "The Cosmonaut" on pages 43-49 of an old literature text I have called Children Everywhere (copyright 1981).

We then completed our country reports and added them to our binder.

Day 4 - Russia Co-op

We went to a friend's house for our Russia co-op.  Here Mags is presenting her project to the other children.  (The other projects included reports on the Trans-Siberian Railway and St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.)
My friend taught the children about the importance of turnips in Russia and why this crop does well in this cold country.
We then read a fun Russian story together, A Little Story About a Big Turnip, retold by Tatiana Zunshine and illustrated by Evgeny Antonenkov.
So, of course, we had turnips with lunch, along with Beef Stroganoff (so good) ...
... mashed potatoes, and salad Olivier.
Yum!  My friend did a great job!
We love co-op days!
For dessert, we were served rasberry kissel!
And Maggie learned how to play chess at co-op, a Russian favorite!
It was another great country study!
Next up?  We head to the United Kingdom with a little mini-unit on Scotland!


  1. Oh how fun! I love circling back to things we have studied before and taking a fresh approach from a new viewpoint. Layers of learning! We loved Dancing Bear. :-) I think I remember a FIAR book about turnips too, but it was out of print and I never could get my hands on that one.

    Your co-op looks like a blast. How great to come together with other families for hands on fun.

    I'm not familiar with the Top Secret Adventures, but that looks like a wonderful resource!!

    1. Hi, Brooke! Yes, layers of learning! The turnip book you are thinking of is Down, Down the Mountain, I think? And I think Emma would LOVE Top Secret Adventures. It is a monthly subscription through Highlights magazine. I signed up a couple of years ago and just set them aside for this year. Maggie absolutely loves them. You crack the case (who stole what and hid it where) by going through puzzles in a workbook. Maggie loves them for the reward of finishing and earning the key chains. I love them because they are very educational. Each puzzle teaches her something new about the country we are in. They are quite clever! Thanks for checking in with us! Happy homeschool year!