Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Books for Learning About Russia & Games for Learning

We read a few books about Russia today since we're combining our lessons on the Olympics with Russia.  It only seems fitting since Sochi is home to these winter games.

For the next month we'll be learning about winter sports, Russia and the Olympics.

The books we'll be using for our Russia study:

Russia ABC's

The Magic Nesting Doll

Breaking Stalin's Nose

My First Book of Russian Words

Look What Came from Russia

Babushka's Doll

At the Wish of the Fish

Luba and the Wren

Rechenka's Eggs

Today we read Russia ABC's and The Magic Nesting Doll.  We loved this story about a czar that had been put under a spell and a peasant girl who was able to awaken him using her magic nesting dolls.  I'll freely admit that I stumbled a bit with both books and the pronunciation of some of the Russian words but all in all we really enjoyed both of these stories.  Alec was particularly excited  since he owns a set of nesting animals that look just like the nesting dolls.

We decided to ditch all the worksheets and focus on learning the rest of our subjects through some fun and games today.

The boys all agreed that they wanted to start the day playing The Scrambled States of America game for geography.  We typically give Evan a few extra minutes to come up with some answers to the game since he still can't read and he needs that little bit of help to keep the game fair.  I noticed a huge improvement in his playing today.  He was often able to sound out the names of the states, he quickly found the states on the United States map and a few times beat his brothers in shouting out his answers.  It ended up being a very close game with Alec winning by one point! 
playing the Scrambled States of America game

I found some multiplication flash cards in our game closet and we set up Black Hole Multiplication:  Basically we set up all the flashcards in a spiral pattern and using a dice and a counter marker they made their way through the black hole.

Alec is actually the one that came up with the name for our game today and I just loved it; they pretended their counters were ships trying to escape the black hole.  I wish I had thought to have them get some ships to use and make it even more fun.

The boys chose whether to play from the outside in or the inside out (they couldn't agree and so they ended up playing two games; one each way).  They rolled the dice on their turn, moved their counter marker to the correct space on the "board" and if they got the equation right, they stayed in their spot, if they got it wrong they had to go back (they never got one wrong!).

The first one to get to the last card won.

While they were playing their game, Evan went to sit in the dining room and worked on his math.  I didn't have a game set up for him but I did have a nice hands on addition activity for him today.

I gave him a stack of addition flash cards and some snap cube blocks.  He made me chains to show me his addition sentences and told me the answers.  He then took the activity much further than I had anticipated.

He started making up his own chains and telling me the whole addition sentence.

Once math was over he took a bit of time to go off on his own and play.  He pretended all of the bars he had made during math were light sabers and that he had 11 Padawans that he was training to use the light sabers.  His game included something to do with our large world map and as he started combining light sabers to make longer light sabers, he subtracted the total amount of Padawans he was training.  He also kept counting how many cubes he had put together and his longest light saber ended up being a 30 cubed double- sided saber. 

Adding with snap cubes
The older boys and I played a new word game called Word Wave for spelling.    Word Wave spits out letter tiles periodically and you have to quickly find words to spell.  You put the words in front of you but your opponent can find letters to add to each word and steal your words from you.

They struggled to make anything longer than three letters but by the second game with just Alec and myself I noticed a huge improvement.  In between games I helped the boys add up their scores and I explained to them about not only looking for vowels and consonants but also to look for consonant blends that would help make longer words.

Evan and I played sight word tic tac toe.

I wrote sight words on cupcake liners, put them in each of the muffin tin cups and got a ping pong ball from our basement.  We each took turns rolling the ping pong ball into a cup and reading the word.

 If we read the sight word correctly we got to put a pom pom in the cup and the first one to get three in a row would win.  Once again he struggled to painfully sound out each sight word and I'm struggling to get him to just memorize them by sight and NOT sound them out.  I keep telling him they are sight words and many can't be sounded out but he's having a real hard time.  He has made some progress though as he had definitely memorized said, the, red, and at.

I guess we'll just keep plugging away at it and hope they eventually sink in.  The older boys thought the game looked like so much fun that they wanted to play too.  They played several rounds and then made up their own game with the pom poms and the muffin tin. 

Sight Word Tic Tac Toe with muffin tins

Linking Up With:



  1. This is awesome! It's so hard to find resources and books on Russia for kids. Stopping by from the #DiverseKidlit linkup!

    1. Thank you! It did take a bit of time to compile a good list.

  2. Thanks for the booklist and activities, and for sharing in the #diversekidlit linkup. I've pinned this for my readers.

  3. As a child I always used to feel sorry for American children, having to memorize so many state names and capitals - we're so lucky to have considerably fewer to learn here in Canada! ;-)

    1. LOL! There are quite a few that's for sure. I know a few capitals but my husband does know all 50; a skill I never quite mastered.

  4. Great book set! I always liked sharing "The Littlest Matryoshka" with my third graders (though it's more about the dolls' immigration to the US). Thanks for sharing with #diversekidlit!

    (You may want to update your book covers, as many of the images no longer appear.)

    1. Thanks... and funny, because I can still see them all! Good to know though, thanks.