To purchase find us on Amazon!

Do Cartoons in Russian Help Teach Russian to Kids?

lvienokicherepahaAs a child my parents were always trying to limit my screen time (that pretty much was TV time) in favor of reading books and outdoor activities. Now at the age of computers, tablets, smartphones, video games, TV is no longer the only screen you need to worry about as a parent. We all heard and read that it’s recommended to wait till the children are 2 years old to introduce screens and then limit the overall hours of exposure as well as how long they are in front of it at a time.

I am on board with this and I want my children to explore other things like toys, outdoors, books, friends, playgrounds, etc. but at the same time I do want her to be exposed to the part of the Russian culture that is represented by the screens: cartoons, movies, etc. – these are so many things in Russian out there on screens that I feel like she will benefit from.

So my goal was to be able to balance the two and here are some of the things that worked for my three year-old and me so far:

Music and songs. We download some of my favorite kid’s classics (Antoshka, Chunga Changa, Ded Moroz I Leto, etc.) and listen to them in the car, singing along. I mention that they are from a cartoon and briefly what the cartoon is about.

Watching and Retelling. Then in the evening when she gets to watch 20 minutes of shows I ask her if she would like to watch Chunga Changa or Ded Moroz I Leto (whatever we were listening to before) and most always she says yes.  So I find the cartoon (either in YouTube or on a DVD – we have a bunch of them that grandparents sent/brought over). When she is done watching we discuss the cartoons. I ask her to retell it to me (pereskaz – пересказ) and see what words are lacking, mispronounced, etc and say the words/sentences back to her correctly

Conversations. Sometimes it all is about the cartoon, sometimes we end up talking about something else that the conversation naturally flows into. My daughter loves it – she loves talking and being listened to carefully. And when she sees that you follow her story and ask relevant questions – she can go on forever! Ex.: Львёнок и черепаха други. – Да, львёнок и черепаха друзья. А кто твои друзья? – Эдди, Нева и Денис мои друзья. – Правильно, они твои друзья.  Нева – твоя подруга, а Эдди твой друг. Дениствойдругилитвояподруга?  And the conversation goes on.

Creative Movement. We also turn on the songs at home and do some dancing/creative movement to the songs, mimicking what the song is about when it makes sense (like the Lion and the Turtle lying around, then the lion riding on the turtle – I usually am the turtle and she is the lion riding on me, or she is the turtle and he little sister is the lion riding on her.)

Translation and Interpretation. One activity that she likes and that she came up with on her own is translating the songs. It started when my husband would like to know what the song is about when we listen in the car. I would start translating and she would try to join in and now it is her who translates and I correct, add. Even when there is no one to translate for – she will still do it both from English into Russian and from Russian into English. At first I was not sure what to think about that activity. But then quickly realized the benefits – I can check what vocabulary in each language is missing, what constructions are transferred from one language into the other and what is she using correctly automatically. It also helps me gauge the general understanding, especially with the new songs/stories.

lvienokicherepaharaskraskaInteractive Activities and Books. Thanks to the internet and grandparents we have several interactive books in Russian that are based on cartoons (Лунтик, Трям! Здравствуйте, etc). So in those cases we tend to do the cartoon first and then read the book and the activities in the book and around it. I also tend to find printables online from those cartoons that she can color (one of the favorite activities) and as she knows her colors quite well now, we explore more complex shades of colors. I also like using comparative forms and some math to work on language development skills, whatever I can tie in to the picture and the cartoon that makes sense.. Ex. Какого цвета Лунтик? – Он сиреневый. – А какие у нас в коробке есть карандаши, которые похожи по цвету? Это – фиолетовый.  Какой из них  темнее, а какой светлее? Какой поменьше, а какой побольше? Давай немного закрасим сиреневым и немного фиолетовым – ты каким будешь сначала красить? You can use your voice to make it more fun and see how the child mimics your voice. Exaggerate; speak louder or quieter, use gestures. When she can do something physically she is usually a lot more involved. We also used playdoh to try and make Luntik together, as well as his friends Kuzia. I actually like the stories about Luntik because they are short and very easy to ask the child to retell you, no long involved story-line that they have to remember.

Don’t take me wrong – we do not do it all in one day or even one week. But I always try to use the screen time as an opportunity to introduce something in Russian without her noticing it and thinking it is anything more than a usual conversation, activity or game. It’s also true that sometimes I plan something to do with her and it goes completely into a different direction, but most always still a direction that involves Russian, which is all I want to get out of it at this point.

If you have other activities around cartoons, resources to support the activities or ideas – please share!

Just to name the ones we seem to revisit (all on YouTube):



Маша и Медведь

Незнайка на Луне

Приключения Фунтика


Львёнок и Черепаха ( Я на солнышке лежу)


Кораблик  (Чунга-Чанга)


Мама для Мамонтёнка

Паровозик из Ромашкова

Чебурашка и Крокодил Гена

Котёнок по имени Гав!


About the Author


AnnaOriginally from Russia, Anna has a Bachelor’s in Education and Linguistics from Moscow State Pedagogical University in Moscow, and a Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication from University of Lille 1, IAE Business School in Lille, France. Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. Her education, work experience and many years of teaching and tutoring both in the actual classroom and online helps her understand the needs of students as well as the design, management and promotion of language courses, textbooks and learning materials. As a voice actor Anna has contributed many tracks to the audio components of this course and you can see her on the videos as the lead teacher. Anna is very interested is supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wide. If you notice any issues or mistakes in the digital or audio components, are interested in reviewing Russian Step By Step Series or in purchasing large quantities, please contact Anna.View all posts by Anna →

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

/* ]]> */