Russia: Faberge, Chess, & Borscht
Want to know more about Russia? Are you a lover of travel, geography teacher, homeschooling or involved parent, student, or life-long learner? In an effort to make world geography more meaningful and memorable, I've compiled all you will need to locate Russia on a map, cook a Russian meal, watch YouTube clips on Russia, color the flag, create a Russian craft, read a great book about Russia, and more! This is part of a series of lessons I did with my family while studying various countries from around the world.
Where is Russia?
Locate Russia on this map of Asia. (This map of Asia includes all of Russia.) Use this map of Russia to label the capitol, Moscow. Mark other relevant features (rivers, mountains, famous locations, etc.) if desired. If you'd like to spend a bit more time researching the country, you can add the language, currency, type of government, religion, and/or famous landmarks. Write them on the back of the map. You can easily find all this information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia.
Fun Facts About Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world. It covers 6.6 million square miles, 11 time zones and 2 continents-Europe and Asia.
Chess is a national obsession in Russia. Other popular games include the card game Durak (Russian Fool) and the computer game Tetris, which was invented in Russia.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in the world was 96.2 °F below zero. It was recorded in the Russia towns of Verkhoyansk and in Oymyakon, which both jointly hold the record of the world's coldest place.
The Russian Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) is called Grandfather Frost. In Russian, he is called Ded Moroz. Instead of bringing presents on Christmas Eve, Grandfather Frost brings presents on New Year's Eve.
Prepare and serve Borscht, Russian Rye Bread, Russian Honey Cake, & Darjeeling tea. According to wikipedia.com, in the 1800's Russians drank their tea while holding a sugar cube between their teeth. If desired, you can try that.
*These Russian recipes taste better the next day, so if you have time, prepare your Russian meal the day before you plan to serve it.*
This is probably not something your children will request to have again for dinner, but it's worth trying once...and there's no better time to try it than when you're studying Russia!
- 2 cups shredded peeled beets
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (or use bagged Cole slaw mix)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- sour cream (for garnish)
- chopped chives or parsley (for garnish)
- Cook beets, carrots and onion in the 3 cans beef broth for 20 minutes. Add cabbage and butter, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. If you have time, let it sit for an hour or so. Reheat and serve with sour cream and chopped chives or parsley. (This tastes better the next day, so make it a day ahead of time if you're able.) (This recipe came from food.com.)
Russian Rye Bread
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
- 2 tablespoons dark honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 3/4 cup rye flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Bread Machine Directions: Place ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Basic bread cycle and start machine.
- Cut a couple small slashes about 3/4" deep on top of loaf; spray loaf with water and bake at 425F for 9 minutes, spraying loaf after 3, 6, and 9 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 400F and bake another 20-25 minutes until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom; transfer finished loaf to cooling rack. (This recipe came from food.com.)
Russian Honey Cake
One of my college friends from Russia made this on special occasions. It takes some work to make but is delicious! If you'd like something more simple, make blinis, which are pancakes topped with fruit preserves/jam.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- CREAM FILLING:
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 beaten eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup butter
- To prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly flour a cookie sheet. Precut five (5) sheets of wax paper or parchment paper into 8-inch circles. (Dimensions don't matter, but thickness of dough does.). If using wax paper, lightly grease. In a small bowl, combine sugar and eggs; set aside. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add honey, egg-sugar mixture, and baking powder; stir constantly until well blended and foamy. Remove from heat. Stir in flour until dough is not sticky (NOTE: If dough is sticky add additional flour, a little at a time). Separate dough into five equal pieces and place onto the wax paper or parchment paper circles; cover each dough section with plastic wrap to keep warm. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one section into a round 1/4-inch thick. Place on prepared cookie sheet (if using wax paper, remove the wax paper) and bake 3-5 minute or until just barely golden but not brown. (Watch it carefully.) Remove from and oven. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining (4) four sections of the dough, re-flouring cookie sheet if necessary.
- To prepare the cream filling: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine sweetened condensed milk, eggs, honey, and butter. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil; boil until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.
- To assemble the cake: On a large serving dish, alternate 5 layers of cake circles and Cream Filling, applying the cream filling liberally between layers. With the fifth layer, crumble the cake into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Let the cake sit 6 to 8 hours before serving. (This recipe came from whatscookingamerica.net.)
Russian Crafts for Children: Make Faberge-style eggs & matryoshka dolls
If you have older children, you can follow these directions from www.ehow.com to make Faberge-style eggs from chicken eggs. If you have younger children, you can let them make Faberge-style eggs by decorating plastic Easter eggs with glitter glue and craft jewels.
Create Russia stacking dolls (matryoshka dolls) by printing out the free templates at www.activityvillage.co.uk. If you’d like to have your children make "real" matryoshka dolls, you can find wooden paint-your-own-stacking-dolls sets at many craft stores. (We bought a set at Michael's.)
Our Favorite Children's Books that Give an Overview of Russia
We read a number of fun books about Russia, though I will only list our two overall favorites since there are so many great ones! If you would like to see more of our favorite picture books on Russia, check out my Russian Czars Lesson.
Our Favorite Book for Ages 6 and under
This 32 page picture book does a good job of presenting an overview of Russia in an alphabet format. It has nice, colorful illustrations on each page that appeal to even my younger children. It includes a little bit about various aspects of Russia making it perfect for getting a brief overview of the country.
Our Favorite Book for Ages 7+
This 64 page DK Eyewitness book is like a museum in a book. It is full of excellent photographs that really capture the life and people of Russia, both past and present. My younger children loved flipping through the book to look at the photographs, and my older children also loved to read about the history of Russia and what life is like there as described in the text. If you could only get one book on Russia, this would be my pick.
Pray for the people of Russia
To find out about the religious nature of Russia and specific ways you can pray for the country, go to operationworld.com.
Visit Russia on YouTube
Other countries starting with the letter R
Would you prefer to study a different country? Try one of these.
Ready to visit another country?
Go to around-the-world-in-26-letters to find links to all the countries we "visited." Each webpage features a menu, craft, books, video clips, worksheets, and more!