Nikolaus Story Listening Video

I am not going to be able to teach my next lesson on Nikolaus to the 3rd & 4th graders. The classroom teachers kindly agreed to work on it with the students while I’m away. They will review the Nikolaus legend I told them in the last lesson, but I needed a way for the kids to hear the German story. So my terrific tech-savvy husband helped me figure out a way to do just that!

I used a program called Explain Everything and was able to use a tablet to draw and record the story as a video that could be uploaded! Here it is….


After they watch the video, students have two options:

  1. Draw a picture of their favorite scene and find a sentence in the text to use as a caption.
  2. Illustrate a booklet of the story (can also be done in partner work).

A variation for the second option would be to print out individual pages from the booklet and have each student illustrate one page to make a collaborative book.

You can download the text and illustration page as a PDF here: Nikolaus und die drei Tรถchter Text.ย  Download the booklet as a PDF here: Nikolaus booklet.

I hope to create more animated drawings like this for my students to use as review. Stay tuned!

An Afternoon in the Netherlands

One of the things I love about coming to visit Oma & Opa in the Netherlands is simply … being in the Netherlands. I love soaking up the different culture. It’s great to do and see different things, but I often enjoy the simple things the most.

Now that the kids are getting older, we’re talking more about these differences together.

Today was a rather dreary day – overcast skies, light rain on and off. In other words, a typical late-fall day in the Netherlands!

But that didn’t stop us! We walked to the shops, about 1.5 miles away. Just bundled up a bit to keep warm and dry.

We went to a snack bar for lunch. While PER had a broodje kroket (Kroketten are made with meat ragu, breaded, and fried. And you eat them on a roll –ย broodje – with mustard.). Froggy went with what he knows: chicken nuggets (kip nuggets), fries, and a vanilla milkshake. Of course, they don’t taste exactly the same as they do back in the States!

After lunch, we had a wonderful holiday treat: oliebol! It’s basically a fried dough ball. I had a plain one with powdered sugar. PER went for apple. And Froggy? He went all out and had the one with Nutella! Heerlijk!

One the walk home it rained. But hey, that’s Dutch weather for you! Just put up your hood – or not! – and keep walking ๐Ÿ™‚

Back in the Netherlands!

We’re back! It’s been well over a year since we last flew to the Netherlands. But this year we decided not to go in the summer, but to wait until the week of Thanksgiving … and the first week in December … to return to the Netherlands. It feels like a long time since we’ve been here, and it’s great to be back!

The flight over was uneventful, which is good! As usual, I only sleep for about an hour. But both kids did much better! It’s hard to sleep when the lights are on and food is being served. And then when they turn out the lights, there are so many screens flashing, I can’t keep my eyes closed. How do you avoid suffering from jetlag??


Even with 6 hours of sleep, it’s hard to stay on your feet while waiting for the rental car!

Our flight left about three hours later than our summer flights usually do. Leaving after 9 pm meant the kids were up well past their bedtime, but maybe that helped them fall asleep? I liked landing later. We arrived around 11 am. So even though my head was nodding at times, I actually stayed up until after 8 pm! I’ve never made it through the first day without a nap!

We drove straight to Oma & Opa’s. We were all hungry, so Oma had some food ready for us. And what did Hippo get for his first meal?


Chocolate “vlokken” – or flakes – of course! You put them on buttered bread (the butter makes them stick).

The rest of the day was rather uneventful. After visiting with Oma & Opa, we settled in to our rental house. It’s fun to live the way the Dutch do while we’re here!

The kids made it to their normal bedtime, around 8. They were up at 4 am until we told them to go back to sleep! Then Froggy slept until 9, but Hippo had to be woken up at 11!

Today has been a quiet day. We went to the shops and got some food to stock the kitchen. It was fun to see some of the things for Sinterklaas!

I’m so excited to be here during the holidays!! I’m not sure how much there will be to do, but I’ll post what I can here! I know that we will be seeing Sinterklaas at Muiderslot Castle. And we will go to a Christmas Market in Aachen. I can hardly wait!!

The Waiting Game

Anyone who has traveled anywhere knows that at some point, you will be stuck somewhere waiting … and waiting … and WAITING.

Waiting for the plane to take off. Waiting in the airport when the plane is delayed. Waiting for the car you rented to be returned by another family. Or waiting for the car seats you rented along with your car to be returned by another family. Waiting in a restaurant. Waiting for a train. Waiting in line to get into a museum or other attraction. There are so many opportunities to WAIT when you travel!

When you have kids, waiting can be torture!


The whining starts. There’s no where to sit. Everyone is tired and CRANKY! So what do you do?!

If you’re lucky, you have some space and can pull activities out of the luggage for the kids to do. You know, like all those activities I talk about in my TRAVEL ACTIVITIES tabs at the top of this page ๐Ÿ˜‰

But if you’re stuck waiting for a rental car in a train station, for example, (like we were one summer in the Frankfurt train station – we waited almost an hour!) – THEN WHAT??

Then you needย EASY GAMES TO PLAY THAT NEED NO PROPS!ย Here are some ideas that have worked like a charm to pass the time:

  • I Spy – You know the drill! Someone picks something that they see, and then everyone takes turns asking questions to try to guess what it is. We usually give a general clue, such as a color: “I spy something yellow.”
  • 20 Questions – Similar to I Spy, but instead of picking something you can see, you pick anything you want. You can ask that the “chooser” define category (animals, famous people, etc.) or give some parameter (“I’m thinking of something red.”). Then everyone takes turns asking yes/no questions until someone guesses the answer.
  • Simon Says – I like this game for giving the kids some activity, but within a controlled manner. This way, the kids can get out some energy (hop on one foot five times!), but they are not running all over the place.
  • The Alphabet Game – This is my personal favorite. You need to be in a place that has a number of signs – the more signs, the easier the game. You start with the letter A and try to find a word that has an A in it. Then move on to B, etc. We always take turns. We played it in the Frankfurt train station that time we waited for an hour for our rental car, and I added the rule that they had to say the word that had the letter in it. This way, they were saying German words, too ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  (Hippo was too little to read, so we helped him out.)
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors – This one doesn’t take much time, but it can be fun to play!
  • Make up a story – One person could tell a story. Or tell a chain story, where one person starts, then the next person picks up the thread, and so on.
  • Take pictures – I prefer not to turn to technology in these situations. But another idea is to let the kids take some pictures with your phone. You could even give them some specific instructions: Take a close-up of a family member’s eye! Find a red triangle! Get creative!

One thing that I really like about these games is that they get everyone involved. If you just hand your kid your phone, then there is no interaction. We have turned some awful waiting situations (did I mention that Frankfurt train station incident?!) into a really fun time! Not only did the wait seem shorter, but we laughed an awful lot!

Martinstag Lanterns 2019

I am so excited for our Lantern Parade this year! It will be our second year parading the 1st – 4th-graders into the four pre-k/kindergarten classrooms. This year, the elementary school students made the most beautiful lanterns out of clay!

They started with a slab of clay. They rolled it out and cut a base. Then they drew designs of moons and suns and cut out stars.

Then we helped them roll the slab and attach it to the base:

They were fired in the kiln. Then the children painted them with glaze, and they were fired a second time. Meanwhile, the children strung beads onto wire, which we then attached to make handles. I’m so amazed by how beautifully they turned out!

Aren’t they spectacular?! They are on display at school until our parade on November 12th!

Halloween Bingo auf Deutsch – The Rules

I recently posted my Halloween Bingo game to play in German. Actually, you could use the Bingo Cards in any language as long as you know the words for all of the images!

But I forgot to explain how we were going to play it! So here are THE RULES:

Before we began, I used the word posters to review the vocab.

Then I used the little cards to “draw” the image. I also rolled a die to see in which column (Spalte) they had to look for the image. Obviously there are only 5 columns. So if I rolled a 6, they could cover the images anywhere on the board. (The boards have each image two times – 12 images for 24 squares.)

Halloween Bingo GitA-page-002

My 3rd & 4th grades had a blast playing!

I also had non-candy prizes for them. I had found some German pencils at Teacher’s Discovery. They say “Mach Fehler. So lernst du.” I thought that was a fun phrase! You can get them here (12 for $3.95).