Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Visit to Russia

We are taking a Round the World trip this summer at preschool storytime. Our first stop last week was Australia, and I didn't blog about it. (Sorry.)  This week we went to Russia. We learned to say Hello in Russian: Privyet!

Our two picture books were The Gigantic Turnip, by Alexsei Tolstoy, and Clay Boy, by Mirra Ginsburg. The turnip story is an old familiar favorite which has been published in several different versions. This just happens to be the one that we have in the Orland Library. Clay Boy is the story of a little clay figure (rather like the gingerbread boy) who comes to life and eats everything in sight. It's a little bit scary, but it has a satisfying ending.

The fingerplay we did is a favorite Russian clapping rhyme called Ladushki. You can find several versions on YouTube. It goes like this (and I actually attempted to sing it in Russian before we switched to English):

Ladushki, ladushki    
Gde byli?
-U babushki.
Chto eli?
- Kashku.
Chto pili?

Ladushki, ladushki 
Where did you go?
To grandma’s.
What did you eat?
Kasha. (or you could say: porridge.)
What did you drink?
Root beer.
We played a game with this rhyme by  asking the children what they like to eat when they go to grandma's house. We sang the first half the same, and then sang new answers to the questions, e.g.: What did you eat? Pizza. What did you drink? Apple juice, and so on.

Our other song is called May There Always Be Sunshine. I sang that one in Russian too, a little more successfully than Ladushki, then taught them the English words.

May there always be sunshine, 
May there always be blue skies, 
May there always be Mama,
May there always be me.   

This song is a great favorite of mine. It's our closing song every week at Babies & Books, the storytime for the under-two set and their parents.

And last but not least, I told the children a story using a set of Russian nesting dolls, also known as matryoshka dolls. Here's the story, with thanks to storyteller Anne Pellowski:

The Story of Naughty Masha

Use a set of Russian nesting dolls (Matryoshka dolls) to tell the story.  My set has five dolls, so my story has a grandmother, an auntie, a mother, a little girl (Masha), and a baby sister.  If you have more dolls, add a great-grandmother to the story, and one or more big sisters, and more destinations where Masha might have gone.  This story is based on Naughty Marysia in The Story Vine, by Anne Pellowski.

Once upon a time in Russia there was a little girl named Masha. Most of the time she was a good little girl, but sometimes she was naughty. She lived with her grandmother, her auntie, her mother and her father, and her baby sister. She liked to play tricks on her family, and sometimes that got her into trouble.

One day Masha’s Grandmother said to her, “Masha, take your baby sister outside to play in the sunshine. But stay close to the house. Don’t go into the woods, or down to the river, or over to the fields. Stay close to home where we can see you.”

Masha said she would stay close by and then she took her baby sister outside to play.

A little while later Grandmother looked out the window and didn’t see Masha anywhere. She looked this way and she looked that way, but she couldn’t see Masha. “That naughty Masha!” she said. She must have taken the baby and gone into the woods to play. I’ll have to go find her.”  And Grandmother went off to the woods to look for Masha. 

(Manipulate the largest doll as you say this. When you introduce Auntie, open the doll and take out the next one, then set the grandmother doll off to one side of the table. Do the same thing for auntie and mother as the story proceeds.)

A little while later, Auntie looked out the window and didn’t see Masha anywhere. She looked this way and she looked that way, but she couldn’t see Masha. “That naughty Masha!” said Auntie.  She must have taken the baby and gone down by the river to play. That’s not safe! I’ll have to go find her.”  And Auntie went down by the river to look for Masha.  (Manipulate the doll as before, then open it to introduce Mama.)

A little while later, Mama looked out the window and didn’t see Masha anywhere. She looked this way and she looked that way, but she couldn’t see Masha. “That naughty Masha!” said Mama.  “She must have taken the baby and gone across the fields to see what Papa is doing. She knows she’s not supposed to pester Papa when he is working. I’ll have to go find her and bring her home.”  Then Mama went across the fields to look for Masha.  (Open Mama and take out Masha. Set Mama aside.)

As soon as Mama was gone, Masha popped out from behind the rain barrel where she had been hiding.  “I fooled them all!” she exclaimed. “They never saw me. Now I think I’ll go into the kitchen and find something to eat.”

But just then Grandmother, Auntie, and Mama all came back. “There you are!” they said. “Where have you been? And where is baby sister?”

“Hiding under my skirt,” said Masha, and she brought out baby sister. (Open the next to the last doll and bring out the baby.) “And here she is!”  Then Grandmother, Auntie, Mama, and Big Sister Masha all gathered around Baby Sister and gave her a big hug.

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