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.
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:
Finally, I ended the week in 5th & 6th grade, telling the story of Nikolaus one last time. Of course, these kids have heard the story for several years and are very familiar with the tradition by now! But they still enjoy the story. I added more detail for this class, as they know the basic story well.
After we finished the story, we went back and picked out the cognates (those are underlined). For words that were close, but not close enough to be true cognates, we starred them.
Some of my students have been using their individual white boards to draw with me. One student let me capture her work:
For some students, drawing along can be distracting. But for those who find it helpful, I think it’s great!
Now, they also needed a boot for Nikolaus to fill over the weekend! I had them do the same craft that the 3rd & 4th graders did. I found small red paper bags at a craft store. Then I printed boots on white card stock and cut them out (one less thing for them to do, as we did not have a lot of time). I asked them to color the boots and then glue them to the paper bags.
They did a very colorful job! (I had them write their names in the “furry” part of the boot, so I marked those out.)
They also did the puzzle of Das ist das Haus vom Nikolaus. It was fun to see how different people solved the puzzle! There are indeed 44 different ways to solve it!
Today the Nikolaus celebration continued with my older students. As always, I started the class with the story. Again, it was the legend of Nikolaus and the Three Daughters. But not as simple as the version I told in 1st & 2nd grade.
It amazes me that they enjoy the story year after year! Most of these students have heard the story two or three times now.
Of course, the 3rd & 4th graders needed a boot, too. But I thought they might be a bit older for lacing 🙂 So I found little red paper bags at the craft store. Then I printed and cut out some boots on white card stock. (The image is copyrighted, so I can’t share it, but this picture gives you an idea – I fit 3 on a page.)
I had also told Puss in Boots to these students a couple of weeks ago, so I again challenged them to create the most magnificent boots. They colored them in and then glued them to the front of the little bags.
I didn’t get a picture of their work, but I’m hoping the teachers will take a picture for me on Monday! Meanwhile, you can see the post on 5th & 6th grade to see how the project turned out.
As the kids finished up their boots, I had a fun little activity for them. The puzzle is to make a house with 8 lines without lifting your pencil.
There are 44 ways to solve the puzzle! You can download the worksheet and see the solutions in this post!
In the afternoon on December 1st, I did a lesson with my 1st & 2nd graders on Nikolaus. Of course I told them a story first. I like to tell the story of how Nikolaus helped a poor family with three daughters.
For this class, I follow a format that I use from the beginning of the school year. On the first day, I told them the story Danke, Bär! (Thank You, Bear). So when I tell other stories in this first part of the year, I like to return to a similar format when I can. This story (as well as the Martin Legend) lends itself well to it, because a similar event happens three times. And at the end, the man and his daughters cry, “Danke, Nikolaus!” (Okay, that’s stretching it a little, as Nikolaus liked to work anonymously! But for the purpose of comprehension, I still like to use it!)
We skipped our drawing lesson for the day. Instead we went straight to our craft! For, as Nikolaus knows that the children of our school are learning German, he usually makes a special stop to drop off a little treat to each student. But he needs a place to put them! And as the kids can’t leave their boots in school, we make our own.
With these younger children, I still do the boot-lacing craft (see this post for instructions & free template). But we jazz it up a little! This year, they got white boots and sparkly red yarn. As I had recently told the story Puss in Boots, I asked them to decorate their boots to be as magnificent as the ones the shoemaker made in that story. And at the end, they got to glue cotton balls to the top for a little added warmth.
As we are not singing in the building right now, I played some Nikolaus songs while they worked. They couldn’t help themselves from singing along: “Lustig, lustig, Tra la la la la! Bald ist Nikolausabend da! Bald ist Nikolausabend da!” I have to admit, it warmed my heart!
Their wonderful teachers also put up a fireplace bulletin board where the children could hang their boots. It sure looks colorful and cozy!
We’re back!! Our school opened before Labor Day, and I’m so proud of the work that everyone in the building has done to make it safe for our children. For the first few weeks, only the younger children are in the building: pre-k through 2nd grade. Hopefully the big kids will be able to get away from their screens and be back in the building next week.
Because of all the new COVID protocols, specials teachers are going into the classrooms, so as to keep the children in their “pods”. There is also less movement throughout the school that way. For me, it means that I now will be teaching two grades at once. (I’m at a Montessori school, and one of the beautiful parts about it is that the children are in multi-grade classrooms.)
While teaching two grades at once could be a challenge (although so far, so good!), it also presents a new opportunity. Instead of getting each grade for 30 minutes, I have the whole class for about 50 minutes. So in addition to teaching German through Story Listening, I’m able to add in some culture, too!
My prek-k/kindergarten classes have not changed too much. Except that I am teaching them outside under a tent! We have the chairs spaced well apart, and I spray them clean in between classes. I use a face shield, so they can see my face, and the children wear masks (I truly hope they won’t have to for long!). The biggest challenge is hearing them and recognizing them! My shield also creates a weird echo for me, so I do come home with a headache each week. But it’s wonderful to see the children! We can still sing songs and read stories. And since we have more room outside, we can even be a bit bigger with our movements and our volume!
In 1st & 2nd grade, I begin the class by washing my hands. Since we’re supposed to do this for 20 seconds, I have the kids count to 20 with me in German! It’s great! Maybe after they get those down, we’ll try counting backwards. Or count 21 – 40!
Then I was inspired by the morning meeting the class has every day. (Listening in to Hippo’s virtual learning last spring gave me the idea!) First we go over the date in German. I made a sign that I laminated, so I can fill in the day, date, and month with dry-erase marker. Then we talk about the weather. Every day in their class, they go over the temperature (high, low & differential), the wind, the precipitation, and a description. That’s a lot! So we are starting with just the description. They already stumped me this week when they said it was hazy. I’m going to have to look that one up!
Next comes our story. I love to start this group with the story Danke, Bear! by Greg Foley. It’s such a sweet, short, repetitive story. And it’s so easy to adapt. On the first day, I told it about bear who finds a box for his friend the mouse. Along the way to find the mouse, he encounters a rabbit, a frog, and a hedgehog, who all think the box is igittigitt! But he knows it is perfekt for the mouse. And indeed, it is! The second week, I tell it as an elephant who finds a red box for his friend, the green snake. He encounters a lion, a zebra, and a parrot. Next week, I’m thinking about a turtle who finds a shell for his friend, the crab….
After Story Listening, the children work on their very own picture dictionary. I made them for the kids over the summer. Each week, I teach them (mostly in German) how to draw one word from the story. Then they write the German word under it.
For our cultural theme, I don’t have a whole lot of time. So we’re going to spread our learning unit out over about 5 weeks to start. I decided to do some lessons on the hedgehog. Not only are they super cute! But I learned that they are the most common mammal in Germany, while they are not indigenous to the US at all! Read my next post to see what we’re learning about hedgehogs!
For my 1st & 2nd graders this week, I told the story about the girl who selflessly gives away all her possessions and is rewarded in the end when the stars fall from the sky and turn into gold coins. It is a story they have heard before. And it is a simplified version of the fairy tale. But I added back some more details for them this time around.
I had some technical difficulties with the app while telling the story. So a couple of times, whole sections of the drawing move! I left it, as I figured the children would get a kick out of it 😉
Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorite fairy tales – at least of the Disney fairy tales! It’s the first movie I ever saw. Even though it frightened me when Maleficent turned into the dragon, I still loved it.
Today I am telling the version of the story that is closer to the one collected by the Brothers Grimm. Here we do find a vengeful fairy, however she is not called Maleficent. She is simply the 13th fairy – yes, there were 13 fairies in total!
The title Dornröschen does not translate to “Sleeping Beauty.” It literally means “little thorn – or briar – rose.” Listen to the story to find out why the young princess is called Dornröschen.
Today’s story comes again from the collection of Grimm’s fairy tales. It’s a shorter story today.
This story is not as well-known here in the US. It’s about a girl who is given a magic pot that cooks sweet porridge. My students have heard it before, so I hope they enjoy it again.
I don’t love the ending. I think it is a bit confusing. Basically it says that whoever goes into the city had to eat their way through the sweet porridge. But that is not the easiest thing to understand. Maybe one day I’ll come up with a different ending….