Russia is famous for its nesting dolls—where one fits inside the next. These dolls are also called Matryoshka (meaning Mother) and Babushka (meaning Grandmother). Some say they depict the generations of women. Each set of dolls is generally made from one piece of wood. The smallest doll (the one that is in one piece) is cut first and fashioned with a turning lathe. The dolls in this set are designed as women and girls with decorative flowers. They are hand painted.
Location: Eastern Europe
Main language: Russian
Height in Centimeters: 18
Height in Inches: 7
Reading Level: 5.80
My name is Itka and I am 10 years of age. I live in a small apartment in Moscow with my parents and little sister. Moscow is the largest city in Europe, and most of us live in tall apartment buildings. My father works in a car factory, and my mother is a seamstress. Very few people in Moscow have cars. Instead, we walk or travel on trams, buses, trolleybuses, and trains.
Our apartment consists of a kitchen, bathroom and 2 rooms for living and sleeping. The largest room serves as a living room, dining room, and bedroom. The smaller room is a study, play area and bedroom for my sister and me.
Today is my birthday and my sister’s birthday. We were born on the exact same day – seven years apart. When I got home from school, my parents and sister were waiting for me. They handed my 3 year old sister a present and she began tearing off the wrapping paper. When she opened the box and removed her present, she hugged it with joy. She was too young to realize that the gift was a Matryoshka nesting doll.
Each nesting doll has a smaller doll inside. As I helped her take apart each doll, we found that there were 5 dolls in all. Each doll was dressed in a typical Russian sarafan peasant dress. Each doll was skillfully hand carved and painted.
As we played with our new dolls, Dad explained that the Matryoshka dolls come in all shapes and sizes. Children and adults love them for decorations and for teaching. For example, the dolls can be used to teach small children skills in counting, matching, and hand coordination.
For older kids, like me, Dad said the dolls are often used to create stories. In fact, you can buy a set of dolls that is unpainted and create your own characters. “Perhaps,” he said, “we can take the train to Semyonov, Russia, some weekend. There is a factory there where they make nesting dolls.”