Folk Art, Music Shared with Students as ‘Prairie Goes Global’

Prairie Hosts Russian Cultural Arts Assembly
Shawnee Mission School District

This year the theme at Prairie Elementary School, is “Prairie Goes Global.”

As part of this theme, the school is hosting assemblies each quarter that helps introduce students to traditions and cultures from around the world.

Recently, students participated in an interactive assembly featuring Russian folk instruments and folk dancing.

The Cultural Kaleidoscope organization, led by presenter, Sergei Shapoval, shared a presentation dressed in traditional folk costume. At separate afternoon sessions for each grade level, Shapoval shared a variety of Russian folk art, toys and artifacts that included the history and origin of the various pieces.

“I liked learning about Russia and volunteering to play one of the instruments,” Sophie Yanics, fifth-grader said. “It was a really different instrument from any I’ve seen before.” Yanics played the bayan, similar to an accordion with buttons on the side and without keys.

One highlight of Shapoval’s presentation included the Matryoshka Dolls or nesting dolls. Every doll in a group is painted by hand and must look the same. The doll collections may show folk tales in their unique painting. The biggest group of dolls ever made in Russia include a four-foot doll with 72 smaller dolls inside.

The students also learned about the artist and jeweler Carl Peter Faberge. He created the unique Faberge eggs in 1884 as an Easter tradition.

“It is wonderful to have the opportunity to connect our students to cultures and help expand their world view,” Esther DeVault, third-grade teacher said. “Sergei was very entertaining and included humor with his history to help relate to the students.”

Chinese acrobats visited Prairie earlier this year and next semester the school will host a presentation about South America and the rain forest and Africa.