Ostereier – Easter Eggs

We’re a little late celebrating Easter in the pre-K/kindergarten class. I had planned a lesson for the week before spring break, but alas! It snowed that day, and the kids were sent home early!! So I did the lesson today anyway.

After singing our hello song and checking in on the weather, we practiced counting from 1 to 10. Then we sang “10 kleine Ostereier.” It’s a song I made up based on “10 Little Indians.” It goes like this:

Eins, zwei, drei kleine Eier
Vier, fünf, sechs kleine Eier
Sieben, acht, neun kleine Eier
Zehn kleine Ostereier!

Easy peasy! The kids caught on quickly, especially since they are really good at counting to 10!

Then we read our book: Eins, zwei, drei, fertig ist das Osterei! by Ursel Scheffler (Ravensburger, 2008).

Hasenfranz

There is a Drehscheibe (a wheel) you can turn to change the pattern on the eggs! We looked at the cover of the book, pointing out Hase (rabbit), Pinsel (paintbrush), and Farben (colors). Then I taught them the magic words from the book:

Pinsel, Farbe, eins zwei drei!

On each page, Hasenfranz paints an egg with a different pattern. So we all said the magic words together as I turned the wheel to see the new egg. They loved it!

I also brought in some Easter eggs. I had made some stickers for them using round, white labels. They each got two! But before I handed them out, we used them to count to 20. First, we counted all of them to get to 20. Then we counted each color (I had 5 purple, 5 green, and 9 blue – yes, I was one short!).

I also gave them a Malen-nach-Zahlen page to color. I updated it from the one I’ve used in the past. Instead of the 6 primary colors, I swapped out two, so I could include rosa and grau. I also made a more difficult version, so the older children could have more of a challenge. I let them choose which one they wanted to color.

You can download the PDFs here:

And here is the work-in-progress and the finished product. Hippo put his stickers on his paper, too. (This is a copy he and I did at home, and you might be able to tell that I helped with some of the coloring. It was fun to do it together!)

Frohe Ostern!

Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag!

Looking for a quick and easy German Valentine card?

I like to give the preschoolers and kindergartners a little Valentine card. Just something simple. I print them out (4 to a page) and glue them to red or pink paper. Here is the one I made this year:

Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag blank GitA 2018

You can download the PDF here: Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag blank GitA 2018

Want to color the bear in yourself? Or print these for your little ones to make and color? Here is a version with an outline of the bear: Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag blank BW GitA 2018

Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag! Viel Spaß!

Kling, Glöckchen!

I’m teaching a Christmas lesson in Pre-K/Kindergarten tomorrow morning. I like to bring in some of my favorite German Christmas things. This year I’m keeping it simple. So I’ll bring in just a few things:

  • der Nussknacker (nutcracker)
  • der Hampelmann (jumping jack)
  • das Lebkuchenherz (gingerbread heart)
  • der Räuchermann (smoker)
  • das Adventskalender (advent calendar)

Last year we received a musical advent calendar from our Swiss au pair’s family. You open a little door and press the button and get a song! And there is a switch on the back, so you can choose between German and English carols. It’s called Der klingende Adventskalender.

I’m going to read a sweet book about being together to celebrate. It’s called Frohe Weihnachten, kleiner Elch by Anne-Kristin zur Brügge (Oetinger, 2016).

Frohe Weihnachten, kleiner Elch

Then I’m going to teach them the song “Kling, Glöckchen, klingelingeling”. I thought I would teach them just that much to begin. We’ll see if they can catch on to the rest!

We’ll craft some jingle bells, because you can’t sing that song without some jingle bells!

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You can find the simple instructions in this post.

I’ll send them home with a coloring page that has the words to the song.

Kling Glöckchen coloring page-GitA

You can download the PDF here: Kling Glöckchen coloring page GitA

 

Sinterklaas or Nikolaus?

In our family, we celebrate both Sinterklaas and Nikolaus. But what’s the difference? Well, I did not grow up with either one, so I’ve been learning about them both since my kids were born 🙂  Here’s what I understand….

Sinterklaas is Dutch. He lives in Spain with his many helpers, the zwarte pieten. They help him with all the preparations, and each one has a specific job. They do not make the toys, as Santa’s elves do. I understand that there has been controversy over the “black Petes” because they wear blackface when they dress up. One solution has been to change it to colored Petes, so now they have vibrant faces in all colors.

In mid-November, Sinterklaas travels by boat with many Petes to the Netherlands. You can always see his arrival on the news that night! He docks in a different port each year. He visits children in the schools. And any time after he arrives, children may put out a shoe (just one! you don’t want to look greedy!) and some carrots for his horse. In the morning they will find it filled with treats.

Some time on December 5th, the presents arrive. The Petes help with the deliveries, and often they have a lot of fun being sneaky with their deliveries. And of course, they are never seen! Perhaps a doorbell rings, and when the children open the door, there are the presents! Or if you live in an apartment building, maybe they will be left on a deck! This is the day when children get their presents, as there is not delivery on the 25th.

In our house, the Petes always prepare a scavenger hunt for the kids to find their gift. This year, they were super sneaky! They even used my wrapping paper to wrap one of the gifts! And since they know we get a visit from Santa, too, they only bring something small – usually an ornament.

Here are some toys of Sinterklaas that we have:

On the left is a Pakjesboot with Sinterklaas in it. On the right is the Playmobil toy. You can see that the boat is a steam boat. And Sinterklaas rides a white horse. Can you see the zwarte piet in the back of the boat on the left?

Now if you buy a Playmobil Nikolaus toy, you will get the same figure on a horse! But no boat. So I guess they do look alike!

As far as I know, there isn’t quite as much to the German story of Nikolaus. On the evening of the 5th, children clean their boots and put one out. When they wake up in the morning, there are treats (nuts, mandarines, chocolates) and maybe a small present.

Some families tell of how Nikolaus travels with Knecht Ruprecht, who is responsible for the naughty children. He might leave a switch or lumps of coal in their shoes instead of sweets. In other traditions, they are accompanied by Krampus, a horned, goat-like creature who terrorizes the naughty children or might carry them away in his sack. (They are not, however, to be confused with the Dutch zwarte piet. The Petes are friendly and mischievous.) We don’t talk about Ruprecht or Krampus in our house 🙂

In our house Sinterklaas and Nikolaus must communicate in some way. Because one of them brings an ornament and the other brings holiday pajamas. But you never know who will bring which one! Sinterklaas usually brings a little toy (like a small box of Legos) and some Dutch treats, like stroopwafel and peppernote. Nikolaus just brings sweets – like lollipops (since Froggy isn’t too fond of chocolate) – and the ornament or pajamas.

How do you celebrate Sinterklaas or Nikolaus??

Nikolaus und die drei Töchter (eine Legende)

Today I was finally back in 1st & 2nd grade. We’re a few days late for Nikolaus, but that’s okay. I started the lesson off with a story, of course! This time, it was the story of Nikolaus and the three daughters and how he helped them by throwing sacks of gold through their window, so that they could be married. Here is the story I told:

Nikolaus und die drei Töchter: eine Legende

Vor langer, langer Zeit lebte ein lieber Mann. Der Mann hieß* Nikolaus. Er hatte ein großes Haus. Er hatte viele schöne Sachen. Er hatte viel Geld. Er war ein reicher Mann.

Aber Nikolaus war traurig. Er war allein. Er hatte keine Familie. Er war nicht glücklich. Sein Geld machte ihn nicht glücklich.

In seiner Stadt wohnte ein anderer Mann. Dieser Mann hatte drei Töchter. Der Mann hatte keine Arbeit. Und er hatte kein Geld. Er war arm. Weil er kein Geld hatte, konnten seine drei Töchter nicht heiraten.

Nikolaus wusste von diesem Problem. Er wollte helfen.

In der Nacht warf Nikolaus einen kleinen Sack durch das Fenster. Am nächsten Morgen fand eine Tochter den kleinen Sack in ihrem Schuh. Der Sack war voller Gold! Jetzt konnte die erste Tochter heiraten!

Am nächsten Morgen fand die zweite Tochter einen kleinen Sack voller Gold. Jetzt konnte die zweite Tochter auch heiraten!

Am nächsten Morgen fand die dritte Tochter einen kleinen Sack voller Gold. Jetzt konnte die dritte Tochter auch heiraten!

Nikolaus hat die Familie geholfen*! Und er wollte andere Leute auch helfen. Endlich war Nikolaus glücklich!

Ende.

You can download a PDF of the story here: Nikolauslegende printable – GitA (I pieced together and simplified the story using some online sources. You can find them listed in the PDF printable.)

We did a few different activities after I told the story. I made up some worksheets to go with some of the vocabulary from the story. I decided to focus on the opposites: glücklich – traurig, Nacht – Tag, groß – klein, reich – arm.

You can download the PDFs here: Nikolaus Opposites Arbeitsblatt – GitA 2017

I also taught them the traditional Nikolaus song: “Lasst uns froh und munter sein”.  Do you know it? Here is the first verse:

Lasst uns froh und munter sein
Und uns recht vom Herzen freuen
Lustig, lustig, tra la la la la
Bald ist Nikolausabend da
Bald ist Nikolausabend da!

I gave out my coloring page with a picture of Nikolaus and the first verse to the children to color. You can find it in this post.

I decided to give them the riddle, Das Haus vom Nikolaus, as well, where you have to draw the house in 8 lines without lifting  your pencil! You can find the download in this post.

Our main activity was a boot-lacing craft. First the children decorated the boot with silver crayons. I brought them in special 🙂  Then they laced the black construction-paper boots with red yarn and glued red pom-poms at the top for fur.

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All the instructions along with the boot template can be found in this post.

We actually did the boot-lacing project first. Then I gave them hand-outs to work on after they finished their boots.

Tea Time Advent Calendar

I just love the holidays! I get so excited, I tend to take on too much. But I love it all!

One major part of celebrating the holidays is counting down to Christmas. That means advent calendars. Not just one. No, in our house, we have seven. Yup, you read that right. Seven!

1. There is the German word-a-day paper chain calendar. You can make one, too. Check out this post from last year with all the details on how-to and downloadable templates.

2. My favorite is probably the advent calendar my mom made before I was born. It’s made from felt with 25 pockets and little felt objects to pin on a felt Christmas tree. It’s a real family heirloom now.

3. We have a Playmobil advent calendar.

4. And last year I took a holiday Lego set and made it into an advent calendar, too. Each day, the kids get a few new pieces to add to the project. It goes in order of the building steps. But someone told me of an idea of taking a set and just separating the pieces randomly. The kids can build their own creations each day. And on the final day, they get the instructions to build the actual set. Fun!

5. AP4 made a cute calendar for the kids. She took two pieces of cardstock and glued them together. The top piece is one big picture. She cut the “windows” out of that and numbered them. The piece behind it has clues to a fun activity she will do with the kids after the holidays. We’ll see when they figure it out!

6. Last year, the mother of AP3 sent us a musical advent calendar. There is a different holiday song to be played each day! And you can switch between German and English! It’s really cool!

7. Finally, I make a teabag advent calendar for our au pair. Each day has a different teabag! It’s a bit of a challenge for those who prefer to drink tea without caffeine. But I keep a pretty good stash of various teas in the house. Then I raid my mom’s stash 🙂  And I fill in with whatever variety packs I can find.

I made the teabag advent calendar with a small bulletin board. I wrapped it in pretty red, holiday-printed fabric. My mom helped me stretch it over the board and staple it down using a staple gun. Two sets of hands were definitely better one for this job! I found vellum envelopes and 2-and-a-half-inch round labels at Paper Source. I bought some holiday number stickers online, but you can also make your own. I found some pretty holiday number printables online last year, too. I put the round labels onto the envelopes before I applied the numbers. The numbers showed up better that way, and the labels also helped to hide the flavor of the teabag. The teabags fit snugly into the little envelopes. Then I used straight pins with colored balls on the end (I just used red and white) to tack the bags onto the board.

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2017-11-30 14.03.25

I’m a little sad this year that I did not do a book-a-day. I used to take our Christmas books – including the Dutch Sinterklaas books, the German Nikolaus books, and the German Christmas books – and wrap them up, so the kids would have a book each day to read. I did not buy all new books! I just wrapped the ones we already had.

Martinstag in the Classroom: Part 3

As I mentioned in a recent post, I love teaching about Martinstag, because it embodies the spirit of giving and selflessness. In the past, I’ve taught about Martin in the German story hour and in the pre-k/kindergarten class. This year I finally got to bring it into the 1st and 2nd grade class. Each class is a little bit different. In this post I’ll tell you about what we do …

in Pre-K/Kindergarten…

This is also a mixed class of pre-k and kindergarten children, ages 2 1/2 to 6! I’m always amazed at how well it works to mix the ages of the children. The older ones make good models for the younger ones!

This year, however, we have a lot of younger ones. So after teaching my Martinstag lesson “upstairs” in 1st/2nd grade, I knew I had to make things extra clear and simple for the younger children.

I began by telling the story of Martin in English, using the same book I had used with 1st/2nd: Das erste Buch von Sankt Martin by Erwin Grosche (Gabriel Verlag, 2017)

Martin

I had the story written out in English, but I only used it as a reference. I know it well enough by now! This book actually leaves out the more religious aspect of the tale – that the beggar was Christ, who later came to Martin in a dream. As we are not a religious school, I don’t feel comfortable teaching that part of the story. I focus mainly on Martin’s kind and generous nature.

Next I used the word posters to teach the words from “Laterne, Laterne”. This year I brought our au pair along to help with the lantern project. She also helped me by holding the Mond and Sterne, so the children could see all four images at once. It was much easier than me trying to flip through them as we sang!

You can download the posters – with or without words – in this previous post, Der gute Martin.

I just taught them the first half of the song. Then AP4 and I sang the rest of it (Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht, aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht). The children tried to follow along, and it sounded quite nice!

Finally it was time to make our paper lanterns. You can read more specifically about that part of the lesson and download the instructions and template here. I broke it down into simple steps and had samples of each step to show the children. They had three things to do:

  1. color the paper with the sun, moon, and stars (I print it on yellow paper, so it looks like it’s glowing!)
  2. fold the paper in half along the dotted line
  3. cut the “fringe” along the dotted lines

The teachers, AP4, and I did the stapling part to assemble the lanterns.

It was such a successful lesson!

Then we got to parade around the classroom and into the front hall. The children really enjoyed that part of it.

I decided not to use Story Listening and tell the fairy tale of the Sterntaler for this lesson. I wanted to be sure they knew the story of Martin and why we make the lanterns. And of course, they needed to learn the song for our little parade!

So that’s it! All three versions of my Martinstag lessons for 2017!

Viel Spaß!