Talk about differences, and let the children write descriptive sentences/poems about some of the different color shades in the book



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Overview of Text Set Collection: Integrated Activities for Culture Study
Day/Session One: Introduce cultural topics study by introducing Shades of People.

Literacy: Talk about differences, and let the children write descriptive sentences/poems about some of the different color shades in the book.

Art: Have multicultural skin tone crayons, paint or construction paper and different shades of yarn for them to make their own faces or groups of faces.
Day/Session Two: Read together Same, Same, Different, Different.

Math: Have students draw Venn diagrams in groups, for different pages of the book, to show what the two boys have or do that’s the same, and what’s different. For older students, have them calculate the time differences in the two locations.

Social Studies: Have children locate India on a map or globe and draw an outline of it as well as one of the USA. Discuss how people travel from one country to another, and sometimes come to live in another country. Invite class members who have traveled from another country to come to America to live to tell what that country is.
Day/Session Three: Introduce Countries of the World: Russia

Review the facts that some members are from other places, specifically Russia, and that the whole class now will have an opportunity to become knowledgeable about this beautiful place. Introduce Countries of the World: Russia, telling the class that the book will be available for them to read/look at individually for several days. They should use sticky notes to identify sections or pictures they liked or want to know more about.



Social Studies: Ask the student from Russia to help identify on a map, the Smart board or computer where Russia is located. Point out the oceans and countries surrounding the area.

Literacy: Introduce The Tzar’s Bird by explaining that this story is set in Russia and is a folk tale (may need to review what a folk tale is). Read aloud. Invite students to tell their favorite parts of the story. Review new vocabulary, talk about how context helps you to figure out the meanings.

*This same activity can be done with Rechenka’s Eggs or Babushka Baba Yaga.


Day/Session Four: Review what the class knows about Russia by doing a KWL chart. Expand the “what I would like to know” column.

Literacy: Present the book Tchaikovsky Discovers America. Discuss the historical themes of this fictional event. Students can write about a fictional, historical event of meeting a famous person of their choice. Discuss the impact that Tchaikovsky has had on music.

Music: Play music from the CD of Tchaikovsky’s music. Do students recognize it? What connections can they make?
Day/Session Five: Review by adding on and finishing the KWL chart.

Refer to Countries of the World: Russia, and read some selections that children may have marked individually with sticky notes, which they found interesting or wanted to know more about.



Culminating Activity: (Could be spread out over several days.) Have each child make collage and write words, sentences or poems about Russia. Assemble the finished pieces into a book to present to the child from Russia, as a thank you for helping them learn more about the world.

For older students and advanced readers

Literacy: Read (in book clubs) the fictional story of Breaking Stalin’s Nose. Student can discuss in their clubs some of the following:

  1. What is the setting? How is this important to the boy’s story?

  2. What is the timeline of the story? How does this play a key role in the development of the plot?

  3. Can you make connections between this story and another text?

  4. What do you predict will happen to Sasha when his father is taken?

  5. How is the teacher in the story like/unlike teachers you know?

  6. How are Sasha’s classmates like/unlike your own classmates?

  7. When the boys are playing before school, they begin to pick on one boy, calling him names. What are the meanings of the names and why do you think they are playing this game? If you were in this situation, what would you do?

  8. What choice do you think Sasha will make when the statue is damaged?

  9. How do you think this story will end?

  10. Reflect on the story: What did you like? Dislike? Were your predictions correct? If not, how did you revise them. Can you make a text-text or a text-self connection? Would you recommend this book to a friend? If so, what would you tell them about it?



Russia Text Set
Kalman, E. (1994). Tchaikovsky discovers America. Ill. Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN – 0-531-06894-3, unpaged. CD ofTchaikovksy’s music.

This book is based on a fictional Russian immigrant experience blended with a historical account of the American visit of the famous Russian composer, Peter Tchaikovsky. Eleven-year-old Jenny Petroff, from a Russian immigrant family, journals about her encounter with Tchaikovsky on his 1891 journey to America. They share a shyness and a love of music and ballet and he tells her about his fascination and love of America but his longing and homesickness for his beloved homeland, Russia. This is a lovely story of adapting to the reality of the present and future, but honoring the memories of home and heritage and identity and past. The illustrations capture the time and the spirit and support the text well. This is a delightful read and particularly nice accompanied by the masterful strains of Tschikovsky’s music!



Muth, J. J., (2002). The Three Questions. New York: Scholastic. ISBN: 978-0-439-19996-4.


This book is based on a story of the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy and is told in a child-appropriate format. Nikolai wants to be a good person and asks himself three questions that will help him know what to do: What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? He seeks counsel from the wise old turtle. The turtle helps him to experience the answers to his own questions. The tale is told simply but with depth, and could create thoughtful discussion. Muth’s watercolor paintings are just right for the images of the actual story and the ethereal nature of the thinking.



Polacco, P. (1993). Babushka baba yaga. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0-698-11633-X.

This book is based on a common character of Russian folklore, characterizes this usual disreputable creature of the forest with positive traits. Baba Yaga longed to be a babushka (grandmother) and so cleans the forest from her skin, covers her pointy ears with a scarf and is accepted as a babushka. Poor Victor had no babushka to love and care for him so Baba Yaga moves in and cooks and cares for the family and they love her in return. Then one day the terrible stories about baba yagas are told to the children and she has to return to the forest. When a pack of wolves threaten Victor in the forest, he is saved by Baba Yaga and she returns, much-loved and a hero. The lesson is summed up by one of the babushkas, “Those who judge one another on what they hear or see, and not on what they know of them in their hearts, are fools indeed!” A couple of scenes might be scary for the very young.

Possible website: http://www.patriciapolacco.com/books/babayaga/index.html

Polacco, P. (1988). Rechenka’s Eggs. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN 0-399-21501-8.

All winter Babushka paints her beautiful eggs that win first prize each year at the Easter Festival. One day she rescues a goose who has been shot by hunters and names her Rechenka, who gives her a breakfast egg each morning. When Rechenka accidentally breaks the eggs that Babushka has painted, the most beautiful eggs Babushka has ever seen are found in Rechenka’s basket for the next eleven days! Babushka goes to the Festival, but knows she has to let the wild creature to free. When she returns home with the grand prize, her friend is gone, but an ever so small sound from Rechenka’s basket awakenes her from her sleep. The last egg is the most extraordinary gift of all! This tale of caring and sharing and putting other’s needs before your own is told simply and beautifully and Patricia Polacco’s illustrations are nothing short of exquisite and perfect for the telling of this tale.



Russell, H. (2008). Countries of the world: Russia. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 64 pgs.

This National Geographic book describes the geography, plants/animals, history, people/culture, and government/economy. There are wonderful photographs and maps that illustrate each of the sections. The writing is also engaging: “Russia’s landscape has a variety of contrasts, from deserts to frozen coastlines and from towering mountains to immense marshes” (p. 10).



Tompert, A. (1988). The Tzar’s bird. New York: Macmillan. ISBN: 0-02-789401-0.The

This morality tale begins with a prince who is given, by the gruesome Baba Yaga, a Firebird to care for. At first the prince builds a perfect environment where he lives alone with the Firebird. But as the years pass the king stops taking care of the bird and so Baba Yaga takes it away, threatening to send him to the “Outermost Edge of the World.” The terrified prince runs away, fainting in exhaustion, and wakes to find himself in a paradise with Baba Yaga and the Firebird. Because of these experiences Baba Yaga tells him he is now qualified to rule the people.



Yelchin, E. (2011). Breaking Stalin’s nose. New York: Henry Holt.

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six–devotion to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism. But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything goes awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night. This moving story of the shattering of a ten-year-old boy's world is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.



Rotner, S. & Kelly, S. (2009) Shades of People. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.

Cocoa, tan, rose, and almond--people come in lots of shades, even in the same family. This exploration of one of our most noticeable physical traits uses vibrant photographs of children and a short text to inspire young children both to take notice and to look beyond the obvious.



Kostecki-Shaw, J. S. (2011) Same, Same but Different. New York, NY: Henry Holt.

Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different! Through an inviting point-of-view and colorful, vivid illustrations, this story shows how two boys living oceans apart can be the best of friends.



Russia Fiction Lesson

Polacco, Patricia, (1988). Rechenka’s Eggs. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0-399-21501-8, 32 pp All winter Babushka paints her beautiful eggs that win first prize each year at the Easter Festival. One day she rescues a goose who has been shot by hunters and names her Rechenka, who gives her a breakfast egg each morning. When Rechenka accidentally breaks the eggs that Babushka has painted, the most beautiful eggs Babushka has ever seen are found in Rechenka’s basket for the next eleven days! Babushka goes to the Festival, but knows she has to let the wild creature to free. When she returns home with the grand prize, her friend is gone, but an ever so small sound from Rechenka’s basket awakenes her from her sleep. The last egg is the most extraordinary gift of all! This tale of caring and sharing and putting other’s needs before your own is told simply and beautifully and Patricia Polacco’s illustrations are nothing short of exquisite and perfect for the telling of this tale.

We have included Rechenka’s Eggs to highlight an author of Russian descent and to share a well-written and delightful story set in Russia.

Possible questions/strategies:

Common Core Standard Alignment

Before reading:




  • What do you notice about the title? The illustration?

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.*



  • What do you think the book might be about? (What do readers do before they ever open the book?)




Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



During reading:




  • What do you think is going to happen?

  • Has your prediction been confirmed or changed? What information from the text supports your thinking? (How do you know?)

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



  • What do you notice about the illustrations?




After reading:




  • What surprised you in the book?




  • What was your favorite part of the book?




  • Retell or summarize the story.




Key Ideas and Details

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.



  • Write or tell the sequel. What do you think happens next?




Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



  • Has anything happened to you that reminds you of this story?




  • Does this remind you of any other story that you know? How so?

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.




  • Illustrate your favorite part of the story.




  • Illustrate (or write) what you think is the most important part of the story. Why?

  • What do you think is the big idea the author wants you to take away from this story? (theme)

Key Ideas and Details

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.




Rereadings




  • Using context, what do some of the vocabulary words mean? (i.e. faltered, crumpled)

  • How did the author help you to understand the Russian words she used? (Babushka lived alone in a dacha, a little house in the country,…)

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and

figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.



Websites of POSSIBLE interest:

Info. about pysanky eggs:

http://www.mistymills.com/eggs.html#whatare



Associated with Easter, but could be adapted for generic purposes:

http://www.creativekidsathome.com/activities/activity_130.shtml



http://www.patriciapolacco.com/


Russia Non-Fiction Lesson

Russell, Henry, (2008). Countries of the World: Russia. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. 64 pgs. This National Geographic book describes the geography, plants/animals, history, people/culture, and government/economy. There are wonderful photographs and maps that illustrate each of the sections. The writing is also engaging. Here’s an example: “Russia’s landscape has a variety of contrasts, from deserts to frozen coastlines and from towering mountains to immense marshes” (p. 10).

Possible questions/strategies:

Common Core Standard Alignment

Before reading:




  • What do you notice about the title? The cover illustration?

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.*




  • What do you think the book might be about? (What do readers do before they ever open the book?)

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



During reading:




  • What do you know about Russia?

  • What interesting things about Russia do you notice as you read?

  • What things do you notice that are different from the U.S.?

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



  • What do you notice about the pictures and maps?




After reading:




  • What surprised you in the book?




  • What was your favorite part of the book?




  • How would you sum up the geography of Russia? The plants and animals? The history? The people and culture? The government and economy?




Key Ideas and Details

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.



  • How would your life be different if you lived in Russia? How would your life be the same?

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



  • Does anything in this book help you to understand folk tales about Russia like the Tzar’s Bird

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.




  • Illustrate one thing you learned from the book.







  • Illustrate (or write) what you think is the most important part of this book. Why?

  • What do you think is a big idea about Russia the author wants you to take away from this book? (theme)

Key Ideas and Details

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.




Rereadings




  • Looking at the pictures and maps see if you can figure out the meanings of some of the vocabulary words mean? (i.e. steppe, tundra)

  • How did the author help you to understand some important information about Russia?

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and



figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Russia Fact Sheet (2012)


Population: 143 million (2012)

Ethnic Groups: Russian 81%, Tatar 4%, Ukrainian 3%, other 12%
Capital: Moscow (pop. 8.3 million)
Area: 6.5 Million square miles

Terrain: Broad plains with low hills west of Urals (included in Europe); vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern boarder
Languages: Russia (official); more than 140 other languages and dialects
Religions: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhist, other
Currency: Russian Ruble (RUR)
Economy: Major industries: mining (coal oil, gas, other metals), machine building, ship building, tractors, construction equipment

Agriculture Products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits; beef, milk

Natural Resources: petroleum, natural gas, timber, furs, precious and non-ferrous metals
Literacy: 98%
Location: Northern Asia, bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Sea
Leader of Russia: Vladimir Putin
Climate and Physical Features: Northern continental, from subarctic to subtropical
Resources:

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/russia.htm
International Children’s Digital Library: en.childrenslibrary.org For digital books in different languages


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