Our winter break has ended, however we are taking a week of remote learning before heading back into the building. And so I wanted to give my students some activities to get German fresh again without having to use screen time. They are getting enough virtual meetings and online assignments already.
Since my 5th & 6th graders really like to color, I created a snowman read & color activity. To help them along, I added a second page of vocabulary.
To make sure I had set it up correctly, I had Hippo try the activity for his at-home German lesson yesterday. It went very well!
There were four levels of word searches. The first two were created for 1st & 2nd grade, the easiest one having words that only go horizontally. The words come directly from the stories of the Nutcracker that I told them. Each of the word searches come with a solution key!
The word searches for the older kids also had a glossary that could be printed on the back.
The 5th & 6th graders heard the most detailed version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcrackerlast week. So they were ready to get started on their project. They made a “Hampelmann” – or jumping jack – Nutcracker. I printed the template on cardstock, and then the students colored them in and cut them out. I have a small hole puncher (1/8-inch), so we used that to make the holes. Then they assembled the Hampelmänner with mini gold brads (I bought these on Amazon).
I absolutely love these little guys! They are all different, but they look amazing together or individually!
One thing I wish I’d done better was manage their time. The kids needed at least 10-15 minutes to cut out the nutcrackers. It’s petty detailed! In the end, I was running around trying to punch all the holes and hand out the fasteners, while the classroom teacher taped them to the board, so we could display them – even if just for a short time. We did of course let them take their beautiful nutcrackers home. Apparently one got to go for a ride, and another made it on to the Christmas tree! (See the pictures below!)
This group also heard the story of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker last week. So this week, these peaceful students colored a design printed on cardstock. Then we taped a feather (if they wanted) to come out of the “hat” and taped the paper to a toilet paper roll! Easy peasy! But so effective!
Aren’t they striking?! The children really did work so peacefully! I was pleasantly surprised, as it was the end of the day on the last day of school before winter break!
I found this simple craft at Sophie World. She has the template you can download for free (click the “Stats” tab to the right of “How to”.)
Each of my German classes is doing a different project. In the morning, my pre-k/kindergarten classes colored a shape Nutcracker.
In 1st & 2nd grade, the children created a GIANT collaborative 4-foot Nutcracker! Each child completed a piece of the puzzle. Then I put it all together and went over the outline with black marker. And then I laminated the whole thing – it just barely fit! It is now hanging in all its glory in the hall of our school!
I am so thrilled! I let the children color their “puzzle pieces” however they wanted. I asked that they use marker and do their best coloring. Some went bold. Others went for designs and detail. The overall effect is stunning!
I found the template and instructions at Art Projects for Kids. I did have to pay for it, but it comes in different sizes, and I can use it again and again! (She has a lot of other materials that are free. Definitely worth a look!)
This week is all about nutcrackers! I began today by telling my youngest students a little about nutcrackers. I also brought in a small nutcracker to show them. Of course, many of the children were excited to see something that they, too, had in their homes!
Nutcrackers have been around for 600 years.
Nutcrackers are traditionally made of wood in Germany.
Nutcrackers represent luck, strength, and protection.
German author E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote a fairy tale about a nutcracker that comes to life in 1816.
Russian composer Tchaikovsky based his famous ballet on Hoffmann’s story.
(You can read these and other facts in the various “Steckbriefe” I created for my elementary & middle school students in this post.)
Crack open a story book!
Then I read the children a short story book of The Nutcracker. I was excited to see that it was attributed to Hoffmann, as that is the version I want to focus on. I am, after all, teaching German! However, I was surprised to find that this version calls the little girl Clara. In Hoffmann’s story, the girl is named Marie, while her beloved doll is named Clara. So as I read the book, I called her Marie. I added some details from the story as I read, too.
Let’s get crafting!
For my youngest students, we actually did not do a craft. Instead, I prepared a Nutcracker coloring project for them. I got the idea from another site, but of course I wanted to make it German! So I started drawing the outline of a nutcracker. It helped when I realized I could fold my paper in half and trace the right side of it, so that it turned out symmetrical! Then I scanned it and started adding shapes. Here’s how it turned out:
I have to say, I’m really quite pleased with how it turned out! You can download the PDF for free here:
The story in 5th & 6th grade got a lot more complex. I find in general that the older children can sit and be attentive to longer, more complex stories. So I really went for it! And they stayed right with me.
Once again, there are a lot more words on this board than in 1st & 2nd grade and even in 3rd & 4th grade. Many of the drawings are the same, however there are a few more here, too. You can really see the difference in the text.
As I told the story of the Nutcracker in each of my classes, the story became more complex with more details. The 1st & 2nd graders got a very simple version of the story.
In the next story for 3rd & 4th grade, we went beyond the bare basics.
Here you can see the storyboard. There are quite a few more words on the board! After the story, we checked comprehension to make sure everyone understood. As we went over the story, I wrote some of the words in English, which you can see in blue ink.
I wanted to give my elementary and middle school students some background information about nutcrackers. So after I told the story in each class, I gave them a worksheet in the form of a “Steckbrief“. We filled in the simple facts together. Each class got a different version, becoming more detailed as the kids get older.
In 1st and 2nd grade…
Then in 3rd and 4th grade …
It’s the same information, but with a little more to fill in.
Finally, in 5th and 6th grade …
They got more information.
You can download the Steckbriefe here as a PDF. Each one comes with an answer key.
This year inspiration struck, and I decided to bring The Nutcracker into all of my classes, from pre-k to 6th grade. All the children will be introduced (or reintroduced) to the story, and each level will do a different art project. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!
For pre-k/kindergarten students, we will read a shortened book and do a simple coloring project.
For elementary & middle school students, the lessons will be in two parts. This week, I am telling the story and giving the children some background on nutcrackers and the fairy tale.
In elementary school, I’ll tell a simple version of the story. First & second grade heard the story yesterday:
I decided to draw my nutcracker ahead of time, as it is so detailed. And every time I said “Nussknacker” the children were supposed to say “Knack!” You can download them both for free below: