Although Russia may have its own distinct traditions and activities, children everywhere enjoy playing games, making crafts and using their imaginations. In Russia, there are several activities, some centuries old, that satisfy a child's creative nature.
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Cossacks & Robbers
There's a form of this game in just about every country. For American kids, it's called "cops and robbers," but Russian children know it as "Cossacks and robbers." Cossacks were military men from old traditional Russia who were basically in charge of keeping the peace. The purpose of this game is for all those who are robbers to hide and avoid being caught--that is, tagged--by a Cossack. The game is over once all the robbers are finally caught. During the Soviet years, some children were encouraged to refer to the game as "communists and fascists" instead.
Matryoshka dolls have been a recognisably Russian craft for centuries. Usually made from wood, they consist of a hollow doll that can be opened into two pieces from the middle, revealing another smaller doll inside. Depending on the set, as many as six or seven successively smaller dolls are revealed. What makes these dolls a great craft for children is that they all begin with the same type of hollow shell, leaving it up to the painter to create different characters for each doll.
Making paper babushkas, as opposed to painting Matryoshka dolls, is a simpler and less time-consuming craft for Russian children. The babushka, a famous Russian figure, can best be described as an older peasant woman with a headscarf. As with the paper doll in America, Russian children cut out the shape of a babushka and colour her scarf, hair and clothes with crayons or paint.
Russian Tea Party
Kids everywhere, especially little girls, relish throwing make-believe tea parties. Russia especially has a historic tradition of ornate, formal tea parties, so this can be an especially exciting activity for Russian children. Not only do they get the chance to act formal and sophisticated, they can also decorate their paper cups to look like fancy porcelain ones. Paper babushkas and Matryoshka dolls can add to the decor.
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