The story takes place in Russia, so we spent some time looking through books from the library about Russia. Since Russian ballet is so famous, I showed K some dances from Nutcracker on Youtube. First we watched Russian Dance, which I thought might be similar to the dance Max and Boris did.
"That's the best kind of dancing!" was K's enthusiastic response.
Then we watched Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy: "Oh wow." After a few more moments, in awed tones: "The dancing is even more magical than the music!"
I introduced K to matryoshka. When I was a girl, I used to love these nesting dolls and wished I had a set. We watched Sesame Street's counting matryoshka 1 to 10 and 10 to 1 on Youtube. I found a set of stacking cups from K and T's toddler days and we used those to make our own matryoshka set. T helped by drawing some of the faces.
One of the suggested activities for this row is to discuss occupations. K wrote: "When I grow up I will be one of these things: Sientist, Astronot, ice cream truck driver, dancer, gmnast." T was lingering by as we discussed this and when I asked him what he wanted to be, he told me, "I want to help people".
Another highlight was when we discussed what hospitality is and had a tea party. I made chamomile tea with toast and jam, and T pretended to be K's guest. I poured the tea into real teacups and the kids thoroughly enjoyed their treat. I am a tea drinker myself, and it made me laugh to watch as their faces went into a contemplative, far-away gaze while sipping their tea. I don't know if it was because they've seen me drink tea so many times, or if the chamomile relaxed them.
In any case, they really liked the tea and toast and jam and asked if they could have it again sometime.
There were several other activities we did, but the last one I'll mention here was learning about the boiling and freezing points of water. I put some ice cubes in a pan and we discussed how the molecules inside it were barely moving. I heated the water and we watched the ice cubes melt. We acted out being the molecules, moving faster and faster. Soon the water was boiling and we moved quickly and jumped about. Watching the pot carefully, we saw how eventually, the water completely evaporated; I explained that the water we had seen start as ice cubes was now a gas in the air. Pretty interesting stuff, water is.
We had a good time with this book!