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A brief introduction to Russian versification can help you to get motivated about memorizing and reciting poems by heart. Russian versification is based on syllabo-tonic verse tradition with five vowel phonemes to be stressed: /а/, /е/, /и/, /о/, /у/. Russian is a language relatively meager in a range of stressed vowel phonemes (when compared to English which has a dozen or so stressed vowels). However poets writing in Russian turn this situation to their advantage. Russian sound patterns (perceptible repetition of phonemes) have taken two main forms: end rhymes, and the repetition in close proximity of the same stressed vowel. End rhyme occurs when the last syllables or words in two or more lines rhyme with each other. Note that end rhyme serves as a strong mnemonic device that facilitates memorization.

The poems and songs on this website will help you to know which poems educated Russians are likely to have memorized, what famous lines and catch phrases from children’s literature, songs and cartoons they can recite by heart, what proverbs they are likely to quote.

This poem has been handed down orally over the generations and enjoyed by young children in Russia. This possibly one of the most popular children’s verses in Russian-speaking world.

Notes for teachers:

You can dramatize the verse by assigning the roles of the different characters. Making puppets or masks for role-playing also brings the language alive. Puppets give students (sometimes silly) voices and put them in the role of creator. Using puppets has many benefits with language skills. Students can practice their oral speaking skills by telling a story to puppets or explaining words or expressions. If the puppets are “confused” and don’t understand something, students can explain and show the puppets what they have learned.

Notes for students:

You don’t need to understand the meaning of every word, just what is happening generally in the tale. What is important is the ability to listen and to imitate the correct pronunciation and intonation, and this is where the repetitive vocabulary, word patterns and rhythm of the verse come in.

With a stretch of imagination you can identify with different poem characters and the situations they found themselves in. Adding rhyming phrases to your vocab increases phonetic awareness and makes classes more fun.

Tell the story in your own words. May be you could think of alternative endings to the tale or continue the story.

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