приветствовать! Or, welcome! This post launches my Russia for Kids series that I’m so excited about. It’s all things Russia. Well, sort of. It’s an introduction to Russian Culture for kids, a foundation. One post will never be enough to learn about a culture, so delve deeper with Russian children’s books, some of the tips listed throughout this post, and check back for even more.
I think a key component to learning about another country is to compare it with something you already know. Because of this, I’m focusing on 10 Russia Culture facts that coincide with things children are familiar within their own country.
Also, please note that many of the topics discussed in the fun culture facts about Russia for kids section of this post are included in the free printables download of Russia Culture activities at the bottom of this post.
10 fun facts about Russian culture for kids
1. Russia is the largest country in the world.
At 6.6 MILLION square miles, Russia is the largest country in the world by land size. Compare that to the second-largest country in the world, Canada, which sits at 3.9 million square miles. Or the United States (which according to some sources is the third largest, and other sources has it at the fourth largest) which is 3.6 million square miles.
Russia is a huge country. It also covers 11.5% of the earth.
2. Russia is the ninth largest country in population.
The population of Russia is 145.9 million people, which is far below the most populous countries of China (1.43 billion people) or India (1.37 billion people. The United States is the third most populous country at 329 million people.
What’s even more interesting is that because Russia is so large, it’s not as crowded as other places. For example, the most densely populated country, Macau, has 21,000+ people per square kilometer. Russia only has 9 per square kilometer. The United States has 35.
The most populated city in Russia is its capital, Moscow. It’s is the 21st most populated city in the world at 12. 5 million people.
The second most populated city in Russia is also the 49th most populated in the world – St. Petersburg. Over 5.4 million people call it home.
Many of these facts come from World Population Review.
3. Russia’s landscape is made up of 5 natural zones and 6 topographical zones.
These zones help explain why Russia isn’t more populated they are:
- The tundra – treeless, arctic area
- The taiga – forest
- The steppe – plains
- The mountains
- The arid – dry
The 6 topographical zones are often referred to in the following:
- Ural Mountains: separating Europe and Asia
- Western Siberian Plain: home to some of the world’s largest swamps
- Central Siberian Plateau: composed of several plateaus
- Sayan and Stanavoy Mountains: where the world’s largest lake, Lake Baikal, is located
- Caucasus Mountains: Alps-like mountains and location of the highest point in Europe, Mount Elbrus
- Northeast Siberia and Kamchatka: known for its volcanoes, both active and inactive
4. Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest and deepest lake. And, to me, the world’s most fascinating.
Here are some interesting Lake Baikal facts:
- Lake Baikal is estimated to be 25 million years old.
- It holds almost 20% of the world’s fresh water supply.
- The water is so clear, you can sometimes see up to 130 feet down.
- It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Fun youtube videos to watch with kids about Lake Baikal
5. UNESCO loves Russia. There are almost 40 Russian sites inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The first two cultural sites to be inscribed were in 1990. The Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, which has been the political center of Russia since the 13th century and is one of the most recognizable sites in Russia, is the more popular one. The other, Kizhi Pogost, is a set of churches from the 1800s built on an island in Lake Onega.
Including Lake Baikal, there are 11 natural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The most recently added natural site is the Central Sikhote-Alin. This is a mountain range with an interesting collection of flora and fauna.
Read about these here.
6. Russia has one UNESCO City of Literature, the city of Ulyanovsk.
Considering this is a website dedicated to travel books for kids, I think it’s always important to point out UNESCO Cities of Literature. Ulyanovsk sits closer to the border of Kazakhstan and is almost 12 hours away from the Russian capital of Moscow.
Many famous Russian writers have called the city home. There are book-related sites and events that are updated on their website. One cool event is the annual Literary Tram. Riders tour the city while listening to texts of famous authors.
7. The Russian alphabet uses the Cyrillic script and has 33 letters.
Here they are:
The Russian alphabet uses a Cyrillic script. While some of the letters seem very similar to the letters we’re used to, their sounds are actually quite different than what we’d expect.
Take a moment to listen to the song below and see how many letters actually make the same sounds we’re familiar with in English.
8. The Russian National Anthem, State Anthem of the Russian Federation, uses the same melody as the USSR National Anthem.
They use the same melody, but, of course, different words. The anthem is played at the beginning and end of every broadcasting day on both the television and on the radio. It’s also played after the president’s New Year’s Eve address.
You can listen to it below:
9. There are 8 national holidays in Russia.
And they are as follows. As you see some are similar times to how we celebrate them, some are slightly different.
Some of the holidays have links to YouTube videos of the celebrations or more information about how the holiday is celebrated.
|January 1-10||New Year’s Holidays|
|January 7||Russian Orthodox Christmas|
|February 23||Defender of the Fatherland Day / Men’s Day|
|March 8||International Women’s Day|
|May 1||Spring and Labor Day|
|May 9||Victory Day|
|June 12||Russia Day|
|November 4||Day of the National Unity|
10. Famous Russians and children’s books about them.
Let’s take a look at some of famous Russians and some of the books written about them.
Marc Chagall was considered Russian-French, although he was born in Belarus. He worked in various styles and his artwork is available in many major art museums around the world.
This Caldecott Honor Book highlights the life of Moscow-born, abstract artist, Vasya Kandinsky. He’s especially appreciated by the Guggenheim Museum.
Russia-born Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space. The date of his flight, April 12, is Cosmonaut Day in Russia and other former USSR countries. The UN has also declared it the International Day of Human Space Flight.
Leo Tolstoy was a Russian-born author known for some of the world’s greatest literature. One of his best-known books is War and Peace. The book to the side, The Three Questions is not a book about Leo Tolstoy, but a picture book based on a story by Leo Tolstoy.
Peter Tchaikovsky was a Russian-born composer who wrote the music for what would become some of the most famous ballets of all-time, including Swan Lake and the Nutcracker. See below for a spotify Tchaikovsky play list.
There are so many more great Russians, than the above list of books would imply. So, I’m going to direct you to a few lists to help you find stories that might interest your family:
Tips for experiencing hands-on Russian Culture for kids
Obviously traveling to Russia is the quickest way to learn about Russia. But it’s not the easiest.
Sharing the facts above, reading children’s books set in Russia, and using the printable at the bottom of the page are other ways to help. But, it’s not enough.
So, to give a more hands-on experience without hopping on an international flight, try these ideas:
Purchase some fun Nesting Doll items
I love searching on Etsy for fun cultural finds. Here’s a link to their selection of Nesting Doll items.
Check out Russian Museums
Check out local museums. Many museums across the country have Russian artists on permanent or temporary exhibit. There are also museums dedicated to Russian art. Here are some in the U.S.:
- The Museum of Rusian Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts
- MoRA: Museum of Rusian Art in Jersey City, New Jersey
- Russian Cultural Center in Washington D.C.
- Museum of Rusian Culture in San Francisco, California
- Russian Heritage Museum in Brooklyn, New York
Join a Russian Organization or attend a Russian Festival
Many major cities have cultural organizations celebrating a specific country. Search for one in your community. They’ll often host events.
One particularly large organization is the Russian American Foundation. They’re based in NYC, and, while the focus on NY-area events, they may be able to help find something closer to home.
Hot Tip: Check out the list of Russian holidays above. They’re a good guideline as to when organizations may host celebrations.
Try Russian food via restaurants and shops
Another thing you may be able to find locally is either a Russian restaurant or shop. You may need to widen your area of focus to Eastern Europe cuisine, but within that circle, you should be able to find a Russian meal to try. I know our local European grocery store offers a variety of Russian options.
Cook Russian food with kids
If you can’t find a reliable local restaurant option, cook the food at home. I think this is a wonderful way for kids to learn about other cultures – through their stomach via hands-on cooking.
Here are some Russian cookbooks:
Russian Culture for Kids Printable
I created this free download to coincide with the 10 Russian culture facts for kids section of this post. Just another way to give children more opportunities to learn about Russia. (Click on the image to download)
More sources for Russian culture
There’s so much more about Russia culture for kids that I know I’m missing. Please take the time to learn about Russian ballet, sports in Russia, or add a stop to one of the most Russian places in the U.S on your next trip. Don’t forget to check out children’s books set in Russia and bookmark Russian children’s books where I’ll update all my Russia culture posts in the coming months.
What are your thoughts?
What cultural things did you find interesting in Russia? Have you travelled there with your kids? Let me know in the comments.
Do you want to join other like-minded families who are interested in learning about other cultures via books and travel? Join our Facebook Group. I approve new members daily. It’s still small but growing.