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Friday, December 6, 2013

Nesting Dolls for Education

Nowadays we are used to the fact that there are basically tons of different educational games and toys for children of all ages, and they all come with a whole bunch of instructions and manuals. There are no manuals teaching you how to use matryoshkas, so when many people see Russian nesting dolls for the first time they usually think that these dolls are good only as a nice souvenir, a unique part of interior decoration. Actually, for many years nesting dolls have been used to educate children and teach them different concepts and skills. So we decided to come up with a list of ideas that you could use with your children.

How can you use the dolls to teach your child?

● You can teach the concepts of big and small

The first way to do that is just to show the dolls to your child and introduce the concepts saying which matryoshka is big and which is small. 2 or 3 matryoshka dolls will be enough at first. On a later stage, you can teach your child to compare many matryoshkas and place them by size: from the smallest to the biggest or vice versa.

● You can teach the concepts of size together with some fine motor skills training

And you can do that just by letting your child practice putting the nesting dolls together so that the picture on the upper and the lower halves of the dolls match. Some dolls are easier to open and close, some are more difficult. But that’s definitely a fun way to learn! Small kids love this exercise. And when they have mastered this skill you can let them put the whole set of dolls together. Children love reassembling the nesting doll sets and then taking all the small dolls out again. It’s fun!

If you have several sets of nesting dolls you can come up with a more advanced exercise for your child. Here’s what you need to do: take apart all the dolls in your sets, mix them together and let your child find the matching halves of dolls and then reassemble the sets. And if your child is really good at that you can have him or her do it as quickly as they can with you watching the timer or you can have several kids competing with one another. Just don’t forget to prepare the prizes!

● You can teach your child to count

How many matryoshkas are there? Teach your child to count from 1 to 5 first, then from 5 to 1. Then you can increase the number of dolls step by step, depending on how many nesting dolls you have.

How can you use the concept of matryoshkas to teach your child?

Boost your children’s creativity: draw an outline of a matryoshka doll on a piece of paper and have them come up with their own design. Depending on the age of your child you can make the task easier or harder, maybe let your child use scissors to cut out different ornaments from colored paper and then glue them to the doll. Basically, you can do anything: it’s time to be creative!

Teach colors and shapes: draw several nesting dolls and paint them in different colors.
You can make a small pocket on the dress of your nesting dolls where your child will put in different shapes. Then make several geometrical shapes of different colors and ask the child to find shapes of certain colors that match the color of each nesting doll. Or you can ask them to pick only red circles, or blue triangles etc.

● Ask the children to draw a nesting doll all by themselves. Making an outline of a doll like that isn’t that easy! But when they do it they can decorate their doll the way they like!

● You can teach them about the history and types of matryoshka dolls and help them decorate their matryoshka in the style of Semyonov, or Sergiyev-Posad, or Polkhovsky Maidan, or Vyatka.

The list is by no means exclusive! Let your creativity rule. You and your children will definitely enjoy it!

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