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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

21 + Best places to visit in St Petersburg, Russia with KIDS. Grouped by location for easy trip planning.

Have you ever been to St. Petersburg? If not, keep on reading and start planning your next trip!

St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia, with the big old center cut by multiple canals and by Neva river, and connected back with a multitude of beautiful historic bridges.

Some call the city a northern Venice for the amount of water that surrounds it.

It is definitely a romantic destination for couples, but I would not rule out visiting it with kids and enjoying the city's beauty all together as a family.

That’s exactly what I did with my almost 4 and 6 years old kids this summer.

St Petersburg, the cradle of my childhood, how much has you changed! Who could imagine that the city with the golden domed skyline has to offer even more fun things for kids to see and explore. We did our best to see them all.

Since most of the things to see in St-Petersburg are located in the city center, I would like to start by showing you parts of the city that you probably won’t see.

Those are the typical houses and playground far from the center. (If interested, I write more about this playground here)

Every year more and more tall modern buildings pop up here and there.

I am glad that St. Petersburg is able to preserve the historic uniformity and style of the old beautiful center. By walking on the streets in the heart of the city, you can feel the history all around, the past and the present living side by side, historic facades reflecting in shiny store windows, cars zooming by the old cathedrals and palaces, boats on canals and rivers.

You see old beautiful buildings attached one to another. You might think that kids, who live in the center have no playgrounds. They do! They are hidden from the public eye inside of the internal squares.

And if you are curious about schools, this is a typical school building in the city’s suburbs. It is very simple and very functional.

To really enjoy the city I strongly recommend you to look for a hotel or a room to rent in the historic center close to Nevsky prospekt.

Look at the map that I have created for you with the attractions grouped by area so you will have an easy time with planning your accommodation and your day.

Here is the list of the best places in St Petersburg to visit together with kids that everyone in your family will enjoy:

1. Peter and Paul Fortress

I would choose this citadel of St. Petersburg founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as the first place to visit.
Besides the multiple museums located in the fortress walls and the magnificent view on the Neva embankment that you can see from there, this place provides plenty of space for kids to run around and get their energy out. Great destination especially after a day passed in an airport and on a plane.

Other things to see nearby the Peter and Paul Fortress:

2. The Military­-Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps

or simply referred to as the Artillery Museum. This was one of my favorite when I was a child, as there was a possibility to see all sorts of military machines inside. At the time of our visit many cannons and artillery in front of the museum were open to public and kids could touch and climb on - a sure entertainment. There is also a TIR (airsoft gun firing range - place to shoot in targets, open to kids and adults), where you have a choice of different firearms.

3.“Mini St.Petersburg” in bronze in Alexander Park

A real fun for kids! The bronze models of historical buildings are presented in 1:30 scale. They are pretty much have the same height as the kids.

4. The Lenindradsky Zoo

is one of the oldest zoos in Russia (founded in 1865), is also nearby. A great destination for kids who have never seen native to Russia animals: brown and white polar bears, foxes , wolves …

Leningrad Zoo St Petersburg Russia

5. Aurora cruiser

is a ship-museum that was built in 1900. It has undergone restorations and is expected to be returned to Petrogradskaya embankment in 2016.

When you walk around this part of town, you might notice two blue minarets. It is a St. Petersburg Mosque that was opened in 1913. It almost always closed and opens only for a short time during prayer times.

6. The Hermitage 
is the amazing museum that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. It is huge! It occupies the Winter Palace building, which was a residence of the Russian emperors, and several other historical buildings. Even if you spend there an entire day, you won't be able to see everything!

So plan ahead based on your family’s interests. You can get a good idea what can be seen there by visiting the hermitage website.

Expect spending some time just enjoying the gorgeous building inside , appreciating world famous artists (Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Renoir to name a few) , who lived in a period from 15th century to nowadays, and learning more about other cultures.
Some highlights: 18th-century golden Peacock Clock, the Egyptian mummy that older kids would definitely would like to see, the knights hall.

7. The Russian museum

This could be be a good alternative, if you decide to postpone your trip to the Hermitage to the next time. It is smaller and it’s main focus on the Russian art from folk to modern (think Repin, Shishkin etc)

The state Russian museum Petersburg

What else is nearby:

8. Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood 

Is so magnificent that I would not miss it and show it to your kids! The church contains over 7000 square meters of mosaic! It is covered in little pieces of stone from the floor up to the dome.

Before the trip, try to prepare your child at home by offering an activity of creating a picture with little pieces of colored paper. It will help him/her appreciate what s/he sees.

Church the savior on the spilled blood Petersburg Russia

9. The Summer Garden

is an old park (1704), where you could take a break from sightseeing. Let your kids run along the alleys from a fountain to a fountain in a search for a small playground hidden inside the park! Let me know if you find it:)

If you have been to this park before, you might be surprised seeing it again. The way it looks now, after the recent restoration, is definitely not how I remember it. The romantic simplicity is gone and replaced by the sophisticated beauty envisioned by the Peter the Great. So you will see the park exactly the way he planned it centuries ago.

alley in the summer Garder St Petersburg

We now move to Vasilievsky Island.

Tip!  Use bus number 7 if you need to get from Nevsky prospect to Vasilievsiy ostrov.

If you have boys, do not miss these attractions!

10. Icebreaker Krassin 

was built in 1917 and now is a floating museum. The life of this ship is full of interesting stories that you will learn about the moment you step on the ship for an excursion. Do you know a Morse code? You will get a chance to practice sending a signal from there too.

Icebreaker Krasin St Petersburg Russia

11. Submarine S-189 (C-189)

Have you been inside of a submarine? Do not miss your chance to visit the 613 class diesel-electric submarine! It was built in 1954 and was in use until 1990. One can freely walk inside the boat and get a feeling how it was for marines to serve there. You can see living spaces, machinery, a torpedo room and even look through a periscope in the control room!

12. Zoological museum

Do you have a little paleontologists at home? Finally kids will be able to see something with their own eyes and not on a picture! The unique exposition of mammoth will keep them excited.

Have your kids ever asked you how big is a whale? Here they can see how big it is big by looking at a skeleton of the 27 m long blue whale! Click through the pictures on the museum website ( in Russian) to check other collections.

13. Kunstkamera 

is the first museum in Russia. It was established by Peter the Great in 1714. Right now it is called the Peter the Great museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. You can see his first collection that includes examples of accidents of nature with which Peter the Great wanted to fight peoples fears and superstitious believes. 

Have you ever asked yourself what was the first museum in your country? I am curious. Leave a comment with the name of the museum and the country. :)

14. Museum of Electrical Transportation 

Do you know how the first St-Petersburg tram looked like? You can travel in time to the beginning of 20 century and see how the city’s electrical transportation, which were trams and trolleybuses, has evolved over time. 

15. Varezhka Museum

In English Varezhka means mitten. It is a unique museum where kids can be kids there and touch (carefully!) almost everything. You can find many mittens from around the world, but do not expect to see only them there. Actually this is the house of a little girl Varja Varezhkina ( a fictional character) who does many good things for orphan kids. She wanted orphans to be warm and started making mittens for them. Come to meet her and hear her wonderful story. You can even help her to help others!
The museum has two rooms where kids can play freely. Mine loved playing in firefighters. The museum is small, but it is difficult to predict how long your kids would like to stay there for. My two just would not want to leave. Thanks God they were hungry and I was able to lure them out with promised of food.

Varezhka ( Mitten) museum St Petersburg

Food Tip! There is a great restaurant to go to with kids and it is just minutes away. They offer kids’ menu and markers to keep your little ones busy. It is called “Schastye”(Happiness) . I marked it on the map.

16. Cat Republic

Are you a cat lover? This is a neat place to stop by. It is a cafe , a library and a room full of real cats! You can even adopt some of those little furry animals!

17. Petrovskaya Akvatoria - Model of St- Petersburg of the 18th century

You walk around, you see and enjoy the city of today. But can you imagine how it looked in the 18th century? Visit this large scale model located on the 6th floor of the shopping center Admiral to see for yourself how different it was centuries ago.

18. Grand Maket Rossiya

It is the biggest model of entire Russia. It is impressive. Trains and cars are running, things are moving, days turn into nights - the model is alive. It is real fun for all ages. Allow plenty of time for the visit, there are so many interesting details to look at. No need to worry about the food as there is a self service restaurant right on premises. I would not be surprised if you walk away with a wish to return to Russia and have ideas of what to see during your next trip.

Grand Maket Rossiya

19. Museum of the Railroad Transportation

Are there any train lovers in your family? Watching how model locomotives move cars from track to track in a scaled down railway yard will help your little one get inspirations for the next tracks installation when you get home. It is a great attraction for everyone who is interested in trains and who would like to learn the history of railroad transportation in Russia, and perhaps, who would like to practice Russian as all the information is written only in it. It’s a bummer as museum is great otherwise. Additional bonus that there is the Yusupov Garden nearby - you can let your child run free and let you relax for a bit.

railway yard model in Museum of the Railroad Transportation St Petersburg Russia

20. Oktyabrskaya Railway Museum

And more trains! Now the real ones. You can even climb inside! The exhibition includes steam locomotives, diesel locomotives,railway cranes, freight cars. The oldest coach car is dated 1878.

21. The Universe of Water 

The museum is located inside a water tower (constructed in 1859-1862) There you will learn about the history of water and see what toilet looked like many years ago. Follow the path water has to take from its source through pipes into your home and from your home back down to the sewage treatment plant. The exposition ends in the former clean water reservoir where you are surrounded by constantly changing pictures of water and sound effects.

See more places to visit and activities to do with kids listed on the map.

If you are a parent of a bilingual child , who speaks Russian, I marked great attractions for your little one for some more language practice.

Read Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country Diary, if you’d like to learn more about what we have seen during our trip to St-Petersburg.

Nights out

If you go to St. Petersburg in the summer, plan to stay up until very late to watch a spectacle of the summer - enormous bridges over Neva river, each lit with lights, open one after another to allow ships to pass through. The Palace Bridge ( Dvortzoviy most) , which is located right at front of the Hermitage, opens twice at 1:25 am and 3:10am.
Check the official St. Petersburg bridges’ opening schedule in Russian for other bridges’ opening and closing times.  
And don’t get stranded on the wrong side of the river :)


St. Petersburg Metro

The must see is the Petersburg's Metro (subway). You enter a station, step on an escalator and your adventure begins! The moving stairs run and run and run. You feel that you should be already at the bottom but the stairs keep on running down deeper and deeper. And here you are! In a long corridor decorated with marble, granite, glass, mosaic... Is it really a subway station? A second later you hear sounds of the approaching metro train. Yes, it is! You won't believe your eyes!

Red line (M1) was built the first and was opened in 1955. The old stations are all like a piece of art on their own. Visit Avtovo station , if you can. It is one of the most beautiful in the world.

St Petersburg Metro Avtovo station

There are 5 metro lines as of today that connect different parts of the city. The new stations are modern but still very beautiful and worth a visit.

Ground transportation 

Ground transportation is also very developed. Trams, buses, trolleybuses.

If your kids are tired - hop on one of the trams, buses or trolleybuses to do a trip around the city. You can buy a ticket right on board from a conductor.


Railroad in Russia is huge. Petersburg has not one, but 5 main train stations from which trains depart in different direction. The station buildings are old and very beautiful inside.

Vitebsiy Vokzal train station building

From Vitebsiy station (Витебский вокзал) you can get to other tourist destinations such as Pushkin (Царское Село) and Pavlovsk.

From Moskovsky Vokzal, you can take a night train or 3 hours express train to Moscow.

From Finlandskiy Vokzal (Финляндский вокзал) you can get to Vyborg and Priozersk .

From Baltiysky Vokzal (Балтийский вокзал) you can get to Peterhof (Петергоф), Lomonosov (Ломоносов) and Gatchina (Гатчина).



There are many excursion boats that you can take to see the city from the water. Check the route map before hopping on one, as some do not have a permit to go into the open waters of the river Neva and others are too big to pass under low bridges of the rivers and canals.

You can get directly to Peterhof fountain park, the Russian Versailles by a boat. (boats location is marked on the map)

Food Stores

With kids it is always good to have some snack with you. You can stop by one of the grocery stores that are spread around the city to buy some fruit, juice, cookies. Try “sushka” - my kids love them!

There are street vendors that sell water and ice-cream. Russian ice cream is something you should try - it’s different. Look for the cheapest one in a waffle “glass” ( “в вафельном стаканчике”) and pass on anything that looks like regular cone. The ice cream looked like that many years ago, when I was little. It tastes a little different now.

Russian Ice cream from soviet times

When to go to St-Petersburg?

The best time to visit St-Petersburg is during the white nights - when the sun almost does not set - which last from mid June to the beginning of July. The weather in May and September is also not bad, August can surprise you with rains. Check the weather statistics to make a decision.

Flights to St Petersburg /Airport

St-Petersburg has one airport - Pulkovo. LED is the airport code.
As of today Pulkovo airport has direct flights to 114 cities. Check the destinations map to see if there is a direct flight from your city. Do not worry if you see a Russian airline ( Aeroflot or Rossiya). They are as safe as any other world airline is. Use the Pulkovo airport flight schedule to plan your trip.

Once at the airport:
If you travel with kids, best option for you is to hire a TAXI. It will cost you 900-1000 rub. Check the official Pulkovo TAXI fair map.

Here you can find information on how to get from Pulkovo airport to the city center by public transportation.
You can also rent a car. The car rental offices are located on the 1st floor of Pulkovo airport. You have a choice of the following car rental companies: AVIS, Herzt,  Europcar,  SIXT, Thrifty.

 St-Petersburg Guide:

Now you reached the end of my guide to the best places to visit with kids in St. Petersburg, and by now you probably realized that I am in love with the city. In fact, it was supposed to be a short post for Your neighbourhood around the world series , but I just could not stop writing.

You might like reading:

Why You Should Visit Italy During Winter Holiday Season and Why You Should Not.

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings. 

FREE Audio Books and Stories for children in English. 19 great websites. 

 Can babies distinguish foreign languages?  

The list of the kids books in Russian and cartoons.

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci 

Kid's radio stations from around the world

Sushka Photo is by Juerg Vollmer from Zürich, Schweiz (Bubliki) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained - Video

This is a great video that explains what made people leave their homes in Syria and talks about refugee crisis in Europe. It answers many questions and concerns European citizen have. I thought to share it with you as it gives a very good overall picture of what is happening.

"The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained" video is created by In a Nutshell – Kurzgesagt
It follows by "Understanding the Refugee Crisis in Europe, Syria, and around the World " by vlogbrothers

Monday, August 17, 2015

Question about language choice asked by British-Chinese parent living in Czech Republic.

British Chinese and Czech family living in Czech republic asks a question about language choice. Parents would like to raise a trilingual child that speaks English, Chinese (Cantonese) and Czech. 

Hi :)

I'm expecting my first little girl in a week! I have intentions to raise her trilingual, except I have no idea how to go about it :(

Basically, my husband's Czech and will speak to her in Czech. We live in Prague, Czech Republic, so Czech's the community language. The Czech grandparents will obviously also speak Czech to the baby, and this set of grandparents will probably have more contact with my baby.

My husband and I speak English to each other. I'm native in English and my husband's near-native. I don't really speak any Czech.

I'm British Chinese - and therein lies the problem! Technically Cantonese is my mother tongue. I say technically, because I emigrated to England when I was 8 and my parents abandoned Chinese education for me and my sister altogether. As a little kid, you don't honestly care. So now, English has become my mother tongue - I'm native in English, but I honestly can't say the same for my Cantonese. My Cantonese is certainly fluent, but it needs warming up and my English is far more natural.

I can tell Cantonese is deeply ingrained in me though, because it takes only 30min of speaking in pure Cantonese before I start mixing my languages and accidentally speaking Cantonese to my Czech husband! When I first visited Hong Kong again after 8 years, I found myself able to think in Cantonese after being there for only 2 weeks, even though up till then my thought processes had been purely in English. So, in short, my Cantonese is rusty, but it's by no means bad.

Problem - we live in the Czech Republic. Between Czech, Cantonese, and English, you can imagine English is the most important and more useful language. I'd rather my little girl spoke native English than native Cantonese.

So, 1. I don't want to speak exclusively Cantonese, purely because English is more natural to me, and, 2. As I said, English is the more important language and my baby will mostly get native English from me.

I'm considering switching between Cantonese and English - like one day in one language and the next day in the other. Knowing me, I'll mix English with Cantonese even if I tried my best not to, but I don't mind so much if she's not at native level for Cantonese.

But I honestly don't know how best to go about this. I've heard so often that you shouldn't mix language when it comes from the same person. I'm afraid if I spoke exclusively Cantonese to her (something I feel would be near impossible), then her English will suffer, especially since we're not in an English-speaking country. However, if I do not teach her Cantonese, then no one will. Cantonese is not a common language in the Czech Republic, it is extremely difficult to find any Cantonese speakers, thus there is no natural Cantonese environment to expose my little girl to to help her pick it up more naturally outside of the home. And I'm afraid that if I started Cantonese too late - like when my girl would be 3-4 years old - she would reject the language precisely because it is not used in a natural environment.

Of course I'll ask my own parents to speak to her in Cantonese, but my parents live in England, and I'm as yet unsure how often we'd even be able to see them :(

And I don't want my daughter to end up monolingual... It's be a real pity. Our priority is definitely Czech and English. I understand Cantonese is not terribly useful, but I wanna give it a go. I think I'd regret it if I didn't at least try.

But... what's the best way to go about this? And is it all right to mix languages?



Hi Iris!

Congratulations on your pregnancy! It is wonderful that you'd like to raise a trilingual baby. I believe it is easily achievable, if your husband joins your efforts and if you consider a little change in your language strategy.

I know you said you would like to speak both English and Cantonese by alternating days. This is a great idea and you should go for it if the reasons for doing it go beyond concerns regarding your child’s English proficiency level. Otherwise I would suggest to consider speaking predominantly Cantonese to your child for at least the first year or two of his life and limit English to once a week activities. As you said, if you won't teach your baby Cantonese , nobody will.

This set up will help your child to receive maximum input in the minority language and will also help you to set your brain to function in Cantonese. After such a long break in using it you might not always have Cantonese words appearing in your head right when you need them. If you keep looking for a way to say things in your mother tongue and repeat the phrases in the right language you will eventually get the language fluency back.

Also your child's exposure to English will not be limited to your weekly activities with him. He will be exposed to English passively by observing you conversing with your husband. Your child will learn quite a bit with this kind of exposure. Read my article about passive language learning.

Your husband could also stimulate your child's English learning by periodically engaging in conversations with the baby. There are many opportunities for a child to learn and practice English outside the house throughout the life. Studying English as a foreign language at school is one of them. If you engage with extra colloquium activities with your child during that time, you will be able to stimulate his language development.

You don’t need to be concerned that your child picks up the language with an accent. There are non-native speakers who are successfully passing their second language onto their children relying on audio and video resources in that language. Besides, you speak English without an accent and you will be a great model to your child, when after establishing your child's Cantonese , you adjust you language strategy to include even more English in your daily life.

If I understand right, your parents speak English to you. I believe it might be hard for them to start speaking Cantonese to you and your child. I would discuss with your parents about a possibility for them to speak Cantonese to their soon to be trilingual grandchild. Best would be to start using video calling with grandparents and practice speaking Cantonese exclusively, so everyone can get used to this new arrangement.

The following articles will help you to plan your multilingual family journey. Read them, if you haven’t.
Raising a Bilingual Child: setting your priorities from the start.

Raising a Bilingual Child. How to Start So You Don't Feel Giving It Up Halfway Through.

Good luck with your little one! Let me know if you have more questions.


Are you bringing up a bilingual or multilingual child or are you a parent to be and have a question? 

Read other parents questions and my answers in Multilingual Family Q&A Series

Feel free to contact me.

For privacy protection I can change your name and omit some personal details, if you wish. 

Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!

You might also like:

Here you can find Kids radio in your language!  

Q&A: Parents heritage languages are different from community language. How to support the trilingual child's minority languages and keep them in balance.

Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help? 

Language strategies for parents of bilingual / multilingual child.

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country. Diary. DAY 3


Today is on the list:  Best place for adults and kids to visit in St-Petersburg  --- When music unites the cultures  --- Birthday party - how bilingual kids feel encountering other kids speaking their minority language.

( For those of you , who are just joining in: I am travelling alone with two 3 and 5 years old kids to our family minority language home country - Russia. This is a continuation. Read about bilingual kids travel day one  and day two.

The day was beautiful we choose to spend it outside and went to see the birthplace of St-Petersburg - Peter and Paul fortress.

Remembering my childhood and how much fun I had climbing on the cannons, I brought my kids to do the same on the grounds of the fortress and on the road to our next destination - the artillery museum.

Here are the pictures I have taken inside the fortress:

Rocket at front of the Museum of Space Exploration and Rocket Technology in Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg, Russia 

There are many many more interesting museums on the grounds of the fortress. Here are some of them

View on the Peter and Paul Cathedral from Fortress wall.

Russian howitzer on the ground of Peter and Paul Fortress

15 -17 century cannons near Artillery Museum

Reading reading everywhere!
This is one of the reasons why you should start teaching your children letters early. Kids try to read signs around them all the time!  See post about teaching children to read.

Ice cream break! 
This was the first one for my kids to try. There was a choice of many different shapes and tastes. I bought  for my kids the taste of my childhood. Working hard in passing on my heritage ;)

In the artillery museum we saw the famous “Katyusha” ( rocket launcher used during the WWII). My trilingual children know the Russian song by the same name very well. They also know the song of Italian partisans "Fischia il vento" with different words by Felice Cascione but with the same music by M. Blanter.

At some point my son started to sing the Italian song and Russians around had a puzzled look on the faces. Every Russian knows the Katyusha tune, but they could not figure out what words , as it seemed, a Russian boy was singing. BTW it was in the bathroom... Fun times!

Here are both songs audio and text:

Катюша ( Katyusha)

Lyrics: M. Isakovsky

Расцветали яблони и груши,
Поплыли туманы над рекой.
Выходила на берег Катюша,
На высокий берег на крутой.

Выходила, песню заводила
Про степного сизого орла,
Про того, которого любила,
Про того, чьи письма берегла.

Ой, ты, песня, песенка девичья,
Ты лети за ясным солнцем вслед
И бойцу на дальнем пограничье
От Катюши передай привет.

Пусть он вспомнит девушку простую,
Пусть услышит, как она поет,
Пусть он землю бережет родную,
А любовь Катюша сбережет.
Fischia il vento

Lyrics: Felice Cascione

Fischia il vento, infuria la bufera,
scarpe rotte eppur bisogna andar,
a conquistare la rossa primavera
dove sorge il sol dell’ avvenir.

Ogni contrada è patria del ribelle,
ogni donna a lui dona un sospir,
nella notte lo guidano le stelle
forte il cuore e il braccio nel colpir.

Se ci coglie la crudele morte,
dura vendetta verrà dal partigian;
ormai sicura è già la dura sorte
del fascista vile traditor.

Cessa il vento, calma è la bufera,
torna a casa il fiero partigian,
sventolando la rossa sua bandiera;
vittoriosi e alfin liberi siam.

Finally evening was approaching and we had friend's kid's birthday party to go to. When I told my daughter let’s go she said: “Мама я могу только на тебе или на такси.” “Mama, I can do it either on you or in a taxi.” I was impressed with my great walker's ability of grasping the concept of taking a Taxi considering that she has not taken any before!

More sweets to taste - Birthday cake!

During the Birthday party my kids played with others as if they were natives. Nobody could tell that Russian is their second language. I guess the fact that they speak it to each other makes all the difference in their ability to use it in a free play. (Read about Multilingual siblings language choice).
Perhaps the only thing is giving them out - they are loud as all Italians are :)

A great company of friends is what kids and adults need :) We came back home way after midnight ...

More to come soon!

Want to hear how our trip has begun? Read:

Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY ONE.

Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY TWO.

You might also like:

Best Kids' Books in Russian

Kids Radio Stations from different countries in different languages

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country. Diary. DAY 2

Day Two.

Brief description: How playgrounds in Russia look like. Great book for your independent reader and  for reading to your child (available in Russian and English). St-Petersburg's Circus - a must see when you are there!

(For those of you , who are just joining in: I am travelling alone with two 3 and 5 years old kids to our family minority language home country - Russia. This is a continuation. Read about Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY ONE. )

Kids are kids. No matter where they are they like to go to playgrounds. We could not pass on one in St-Petersburg!

Kids were so excited to learn that the playground has actually a theme. This one has pictures of all the characters from a Russian book written by Alexander Volkov  "The Wizard of the Emerald City"  ( Александр Волков “Волшебник изумрудного города”) , a book that was initially a translation of Bauman’s “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ” and then turned into an independent piece of work. We finished reading the last book of the series just before leaving for Russia.

BTW, both of my kids just love all the books about Magic Land and Emerald City (“Волшебной стране" и "Изумрудном городе”). If you have not read them, do so, below you will find a reference to books in Russian and English.  I promise your kids will be asking you to keep on reading, a book after a book :)

Here is the list of Alexander Volkov’s books in Russian placed in order. I also write the titles in English, if you are interested to read them in that language as well.

Список книг Волкова про Волшебную страну по порядку:
Волшебник Изумрудного города

Урфин Джюс и его деревянные солдаты

Семь подземных королей

Огненный бог Марранов

Жёлтый Туман

Тайна заброшенного замка 

Here is a great website, where you can read all books about Emerald City online for free ( in Russian): 

Читать “Волшебник изумрудного города” онлайн.

Books in English:

Tales of Magic Land 1: The Wizard of the Emerald City and Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers

Tales of Magic Land 2: The Seven Underground Kings and The Fiery God of the Marrans

Tales of Magic Land 3: The Yellow Fog and The Mystery of the Deserted Castle

Finally here are some pictures from our playground visit.

playground St Petersburg Russia

The evening was filled with new exciting emotions - we went to the world famous St-Petersburg Circus! (Шапито в Автово)

To say it was an AMAZING show on water is to say nothing. The performers were outstanding! Truly great show for both kids and adults!
Circus Avtovo St Petersburg Russia stage decoration
When I read that show is on water I was concerned, if there will be animals. They were there! A crocodile, two pitons, white doves, dogs, seals.

Unfortunately taking pictures during the show was not allowed. Check the website for more details. It will give you some hint what this show is all about (really a hint, as those few pictures are not from the best circus acts either) :

It was a memorable experience for my kids and for me. Besides the performance, I will keep in my memory the kids faces full of excitement and joy.

More to come soon!

Click to read DAY 1Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY ONE.
Here you will find: One parent travelling with two children. Airport and air plane experience. Significance of the trip.

Or jump to DAY 3  - Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY TREE.
Best place for adults and kids to visit in St-Petersburg --- When music unites the cultures --- Birthday party - how bilingual kids feel encountering other kids speaking their minority language. 

You might also like reading:

Check out Kids' Radio Stations from around the world!

Watch Russian cartoons online.

Best children's books to read in Russian.

Meet other parents and multilinguals through reading their life stories! 

Would like to teach your child to read in your language? - Find the answers on what language you should start with and how to do it (click here)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country. Diary. DAY 1

I am travelling alone with two 3 and 5 years old fully bilingual kids to our family minority language home country - Russia. Sounds interesting? Keep on reading!

Day One.

Here you will find: One parent travelling with two children. Airport and air plane experience. Significance of the trip.

Almost 3.5 hour flight went well. The kids were extremely well behaved (Surprise!). They even were able to negotiate on who takes the window seat without letting the entire airplane know about their discussion.

The moment we approached the boarding area my son commented about people: “mama, they all speak Russian!” and I realised that here is the start point for learning about Russians and Russian culture. The kids were studying peoples faces and were paying attention to other people’s conversations.

The next early encounter with Russia was in the air - kids reaction to the airline food. Russian black bread, butter, cheese … and pasta and chicken dish, which my kids picked.

I was curious to see how my Italian kiddos will react to pasta. The very hungry kids finished all the chicken, but the little one left the pasta and ate all our white bread instead. My sweet tooth girl did not want to eat a cake either.

We landed.

Did you know that such a simple thing like “venik” (a short brush of bound straw) can make a kid happy?

Русский веник

This was one of the most exciting moment for me and my kids. The older child noticed "venik" at the back of a bus that we took to get from our plane to a terminal. His eyes were shiny from happiness. He said “ Mom, this is a "venik"!“ (“Мама, это ВЕНИК! “) .

Right at this moment I understood the great significance of our trip - it is a real life encounter with everything they read about and talked about all those past years.

This first trip to Russia is much much more than just a visit of friends and family. 

Read next post:  Bilingual children Travelling to Minority language Country.Diary. DAY 2.
How playgrounds in Russia look like. Great book for your independent reader and  for reading to your child (available in Russian and English). St-Petersburg's Circus - a must see when you are there! 

Or jump to DAY 3  - Bilingual Children Travelling to Minority Language Country - DAY TREE.
Best place for adults and kids to visit in St-Petersburg --- When music unites the cultures --- Birthday party - how bilingual kids feel encountering other kids speaking their minority language. 

You might also like reading:

Listen to kids' Radio in English , Russian , German , Spanish, French, Polish, Serbian , Slovak , Dutch, Lithuanian, Turkish, Czech, Norwegian, Italian, Greek, Albanian , Hungarian 

Watch Russian cartoons online. 

Best children's books to read in Russian.

Image source: wikipedia

Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Reads: Great Russian book to introduce a famous Russian poet - Lermontov. Age 10 +

I find it somewhat challenging to introduce Russian classic poets, whose language is hard to understand without additional explanation not only for children but also for some adults.
Bookstore in the old Singer building
I have been on a look out for books that have nice illustrations to go along with the text to make them more accessible. And here I was, in a bookstore that is in the old Singer building right in the heart of St-Petersburg Russia, reaching for a book by Mikhail Lermontov. The second I flipped through its pages I knew - this is the one! My two bilingual kids, who just turned 4 and 6 year old, listen very attentively to me reading it and asked questions. Surely some of the poems are still too early for them to read, but the book has many shorter poems that small children can appreciate. I would say this book is best for children age 10 and older.

Mikhail Lermontov is a famous Russian poet and writer , who was born more than 200 years ago and died in a duel at the age of 26. His poetry is filled with poetic images and many of his poems became beautiful songs.

Here are some of them, you can listen them on Youtube:

Казачья колыбельная песня
Выхожу один я на дорогу
Нет, не тебя так пылко я люблю
Отчего ( Мне грустно )
и другие

This book is called “Poems of all times” (“Стихи на все времена” ) - a collection of poems by Lermontov that every Russian child reads during the school studies. You will find all his famous poems there: Бородино, Три пальмы, Песня про царя Ивана Васильевича …, Родина, И скучно и грустно, Мцыри, Смерть поэта и многие другие.

The beautiful watercolor illustrations by Nikolaev ( Юрий Николаев) attract readers and help them feel the magic of Lermontov’s poetry.

If you have already read this book and looking for something else to read, check out  
the list of Russian language children's books and cartoons 
List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci
or stop by to see what other international families and friends of Multicultural Kid Blogs have to recommend in the Read Around the World Summer Reading Series.  This is the second summer, when bloggers from all over the world share their recommendations of great multicultural books for the entire family!

Good reading time!

You might also like:

FREE audiobooks and stories in English. 19 great websites !

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.

List of Kids' Radio Stations broadcasting from around the world. Is your kids favourite station listed here?

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Good Reads: Great conversation starter - folktale from New Guinea “The Turtle and the Island”. Age 4 and up.

What do you and your children know about Papua New Guinea?

The book “The turtle and the island” is a folktale that tells us in a very poetic way how the island of New Guinea was born and who were the first people living there. It is a great book for young independent readers and can be read to children from age of 4.

I found this folktale available in Russian and English languages. Have you seen/read it in other languages? If yes, in which one?

Book In Russian:

We read the story in Russian. The book is called "Остров и черепаха". It is very well told by Anastasia Brodotskaya (Анастасия Бродоцкая) and accompanied with beautiful illustrations by David Haykin ( Давид Хайкин).

Book In English:

The story “The Island and the turtle” was published in English by Barbara Ker Wilson (Author) and Frané Lessac (Illustrator).

Use this book to start a conversation with your child. Here are some topics you could expand on: You could talk about how islands are formed, introduce more geography, discuss turtles and ocean, talk about biodiversity … and the list does not end here!

If you have already read this folktale, check out the list of Russian language children's books and cartoons  or stop by to see what other international families and friends of Multicultural Kid Blogs have to recommend in the Read Around the World Summer Reading Series.  This is the second summer, when bloggers from all over the world share their recommendations of great multicultural books for the entire family!

Good reading time to everyone!

You might also like:

FREE audiobooks and stories in English. 19 great websites !

List of Kids' Radio Stations from countries around the world

Did you know that by singing songs and nursery rhymes you prepare your child to learning to read?

Have you ever wondered how one can become a multilingual? - learn more from this great Life story: A Journey to Multilingualism.

A family vacation, multilingual style. Are you in?

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.

What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.