Story Listening: The Legend of St. Martin

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On November 11th, children in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland will be celebrating Martinstag. We are planning our own little celebration at school with all the children from pre-k through 4th grade.

So of course, I had to tell a story about St. Martin. Legend has it that Martin helped a beggar who was freezing by cutting his cloak in two with his sword.

I told another part of the story in English. Martin had become a monk and was living in Tours. When a new bishop was needed, the people turned to “the good Martin”. But he was so humble that he did not want to be bishop. He ran away and hid in a goose stall. The people of the town went searching for him. They lit their lanterns to guide them through the night. But it was the squawking geese that finally gave him away! And he did then agree to become the new bishop.

I took out a few of the details to simplify the story in 1st and 2nd grade. They still got the idea!

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This story is available on the Great Story Reading Project 🙂

Story Listening: Halloween Story

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I’m not a fan of scary stories. And the last thing I want to do is frighten a child, even at Halloween! But I still wanted to tell a good story with a Halloween theme. So I found the book The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.

The little old lady is followed home by two shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, gloves, a hat, and a scary jack-o-lantern. But when they don’t frighten her, they get sad. But she has an idea! The next day, she wakes up to see them all standing in her garden making the perfect scarecrow!

This story is perfect for Story Listening, because of the way it repeats. The ending was a little tricky to make clear, though. I’ll have to work on that for next time.

In 3rd & 4th grade, I’m teaching in a different room, so I now have a white board instead of a chalk board. The pictures don’t come out quite as well 🙂

I tried something new with this lesson. I gave the children a sheet of paper with some of the words on it, so they could draw along with me. My intention was for them to be more attentive in their listening. But I don’t think it worked very well. They were too concerned with their drawings. I saw more of the tops of their heads than their eyes! It was a good experiment. Maybe I’ll try having them draw after the story another time.

1st & 2nd Grade

I simplified the story even more for the younger children. I took out the gloves and hat and also removed some of the descriptive colors of the clothes. It made the story go a little faster, since I don’t have as much time to spend with them.

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Story Listening: Das grüne Halsband

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Because my lesson on How the Apple got its Star was a little too challenging – and long – for my 3rd & 4th-graders, I knew I had to choose something simpler for the 1st & 2nd-graders this week. So I went with a Halloween-themed story: Das grüne Halsband (or The Green Ribbon).

I knew the story from the I Can Read series: a book called In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. It’s not really scary. More like a little creepy – and just plain weird. Here’s the thing, though. I personally don’t really like the story. And when I don’t like the story, the lesson just does not go as well. I wanted to like it. I tried to make it work. But it really did not go over very well. Lesson learned!

This story is available on the Great Story Reading Project 🙂

Story Listening: Wie die Sterne in den Apfel kamen

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This lovely story about how the apple got its star come from the Waldorf schools. You can read the original English here.

The story tells about a little seed that is sleeping in the earth until one morning it is awakened by Mother (or Father) Sun. After it pokes its head up out of the soil, it is enchanted by all the sights of nature that surround him. That night, he sees the dark sky full of stars and wishes to have one for himself. A fairy visits him and tells him that he will have his wish granted if he works hard to grow strong and fill himself with love. Eventually the seed becomes a tree with little buds, and the tree becomes a father/mother to the little pink buds. He takes such loving care of them and is so happy, that he forgets all about his wish to have a star. When the fairy returns, the tree is full of red apples, and he tells the fairy that he no longer needs a star of his own. So she declares that she will hide a star inside each apple for the little children to find.

After we read the story, I cut open an apple for the children to see the star. I think that was the best part 🙂  I’m not sure how many of the children had ever seen the star inside of the apple. The trick is to cut it through the “equator” – not from stem to bottom. Makes it trickier to cut up for eating, but it does reveal the magic!

As it turns out, this story was rather challenging. It was a little long and a little too hard for my beginners to understand. I think in the future, I will either save this for a second-year lesson or simplify it some more.

Because it was challenging for my 3rd & 4th-graders, I decided not to tell this story to my 1st & 2nd-graders. I told them the somewhat creepy Halloween-time story of the green ribbon instead….

This story is available on the Great Story Reading Project 🙂

Story Listening: Goldlöckchen

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This week’s story was Goldilocks. Even though it is a story that is familiar to the children, it still works great for Story Listening. There is something comfortable about knowing the story and being able to predict what is coming next.

1st & 2nd Grade:

We sang a new song in class: the German version of “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes.” In German, you sing “foot” instead of “toes.” It goes like this:

Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß
Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß
Augen, Ohren, Nase und Mund
Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß

(That funny letter in “Fuß” is called an Eszett and is basically a double “s.”)

Sometimes it is hard to sing a song that you already know in another language! So we’ll keep working on it 🙂

3rd & 4th Grade:

We have been working on colors the past two weeks. So we added some new ones: schwarz, weiß, braun, grau, & rosa (black, white, brown, gray, & pink).

Although I shouldn’t really say “working,” because mostly we are having fun with these words! The children love to play games, so we played a round of “Ich habe …, Wer hat…?” (I have, Who has?). (I got the game here.)

And we played their favorite game: Ja oder Nein. I hold up a color and ask if they like it (in German, of course). If the answer is yes, they say, “Ja!” and move to one side of the room. If the answer is no, they say, “No!” and move to the other side of the room. We have had to add in der Mitte (in the middle) for those who can’t quite make up their minds 🙂

Goldilocks is available on The Great Story Reading Project 🙂

Story Listening: Das Langnasenschwein

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This week’s story was based on a book called The Long-Nosed Pig by Keith Faulkner. It is a story in the tradition of Kipling’s Just So Stories and tells how the pig got it’s short, wrinkled snout. I actually found the book over the summer when we stayed at an air B&B in the Netherlands. It was in the home-owner’s collection of children’s books, and I thought it would be fun to use for Story Listening.

The book is out of print, but if you Google it, you will find a few YouTube videos of it being read in English.

The story tells of a pig with a very long nose. He is so proud of his nose that he goes around boasting about it to other animals. He trots away, holding his nose up proudly. Until finally, he holds his nose up so high that he can’t see where he’s going and runs smack into a tree! And that is how the long-nosed pig got it’s short, wrinkled snout.

Well, it turns out the the children were not all familiar with Just So Stories. So that interfered a bit with their comprehension of the story. Also, for some reason, I wasn’t sure if they would know what a toucan is, so I changed it to a parrot. Obviously, the parrot does not have a particularly long nose, but it is a rather distinctive one!

1st & 2nd Grade:

I decided to give the toucan a try, and of course they knew what it was! Here is what the board looked like with that drawing:

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Story Listening: Eine Reise

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This week’s story was taken from an easy ready called Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel. You may also know him from his Frog and Toad stories. I really enjoy his humor 🙂 Alas, humor does not always translate well, and the kids didn’t quite get the punchline. But it was still a good story.

The story is called “A Journey.” It is about a mouse who wants to visit his mother (I changed it to grandmother). Along the way, he encounters all kinds of challenges, but there is always someone on the side of the road selling something – roller skates, boots, sneakers – to help him on his way. When at last he can’t go one more step, there is a person at the side of the road selling … feet! He buys them and puts them on and makes it all the way to dear grandmother’s house!

So telling a joke in a foreign language can be tricky! Even after I explained it in English, the kids didn’t seem to quite understand. Because, really, you can’t just take off your feet and put on new ones!

Nevertheless, the story had some rich vocabulary, and we had fun with it.

I’m using the same story in grades 1 – 4, since they are all beginners. Somehow, each lessons is always a little different….

Grades 1 & 2:

I started the lessons with a little TPR to get the “wiggles” out. It’s kind of like Simon Says. This week, we did a series about washing hands and then sang the song “Hände waschen”. (You can listen to the song in this YouTube clip.)

I also used a counting rhyme – like eeny meeny miney mo – to invite the children to the rug for our story. It just happens to correspond with the story, because it talks about taking off and putting on shoes!

Eine kleine Mickymaus
zog sich mal die Schuhe aus,
zog sie wieder an,
und du bist dran!

Grade 3:

We had a little scheduling confusion, so the lesson was shorter today. We only got to sing our hello song and hear the story. But that is the most important part of the lesson anyway! We’ll play games again next week 🙂

Grade 4:

Because of the scheduling confusion, the 4s actually had a longer lesson. Since they had decided to pick new German names, I handed out name tags for each of them, and we did a little Q&A about who was who.

We also played a game based on the food from the Hungry Caterpillar lesson. It was a simple game of “I have, who has”. I made up the cards to have everything they needed to say in German. We played two rounds of it, and they improved so quickly! Here is a sample of the cards:

You can download the PDF of the card game here: kleine Raupe Ich habe Wer hat – GitA

They wanted to play our yes or no game again, so we played that, too. I just held up a card an asked who like each food. If they liked it, they said “ja” and went to one side of the room. If they didn’t like it, they said “nein” and went to the other side of the room.