Nussknacker / Nutcracker 2020 – Part 1

The Nutcracker story in 1st & 2nd grade

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:

Knack!

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:

After the story, the students will get a simple worksheet to fill in. Read more about the Steckbrief” in this post!

The text for 1st & 2nd grade:

Read more about the Story Listening lesson from two years ago that used this text in this post.

You can also read the updated text from this year and download it for free here:

Klingelingeling! Jingle Bells

While we may not be singing in the classrooms right now, that doesn’t mean we can’t have music! I usually teach the children the song “Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling” at this time of year. In the past few years, I have made little bells at home to give to the children, so they can play along as we sing. But this year, I decided to let them make the bells. And then we said the words Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling.

To make the bells, you need:

  • 2 pipe cleaners in two different colors (we used red & white this year)
  • three bells

That’s it! I get my bells at the Dollar Store. You have to make sure you get bells that have a big enough “loop” or “handle” at the top, so the pipe cleaner can go through.

For instructions on how to make the bells, see this post!

After I taught the children how to say “Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling” we clapped out the rhythm as we said it. Then I told them that we needed bells to ring instead of just clapping! So we made the bells. And then I showed them one of my favorite things: and Advent calendar from our Swiss au pair. Each day plays a different song!

We listened to the German song for Day 2, of course – Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling! And we rang our bells in time and spoke the words we’d learned.

(This Advent calendar plays 48 beautiful songs – 24 German and 24 English! It uses only 3 AA batteries. And the melodies are lovely to listen to! You can find more about them here! No compensation for me – I just like them!)

The children enjoyed the music so much, that we listened to several other songs. “O Tannenbaum“, “Stille Nacht“, and “Jingle Bells”.

Here is a coloring page that goes with the song:

Frohe Weihnachten!

Nikolaus – in Pre-K / Kindergarten

Today is the first of December. So it’s time to get ready for Nikolaus!

In pre-k/kindergarten, I shocked the students when I told them that children all over Germany, Austria & Switzerland were getting SOOOOO excited … to clean their boots!! What?! Oh, yes! Those boots must be cleaned before leaving one out for Nikolaus on the evening of December 5th. On the morning of the 6th, children will rush to their boots to see what he left – nuts? mandarins? chocolates? a little present??

As Nikolaus knows that the children of our school are learning German, he usually makes an extra stop to leave a small treat for the children. But he needs a place to put them, right?!

So the children make a boot that can be hung in the classroom. This year they made red boots with green yarn to lace them up. They colored on the front of the boot to give it some extra design.

To make the boots, first download this free template:

  1. Trace the boot template onto a piece of folded construction paper.
  2. Cut out the boot and punch holes where the black dots are.
  3. Let the children color the boot.
  4. Cut a length of yarn. Tie one end to the bottom of the boot. Tie a knot in the other end (this acts like the “needle” as it helps the child thread the yarn through the holes).
  5. Let the children lace up the boot. The can go in and out from front to back & back to front. Or they can keep looping around to the front. There is no wrong way to do it! Just so long as they go into each hole in order.
  6. Finally, tie the top end off at the back. Wunderbar!

The end result is so sweet! In the different classes, the teachers hung up the boots, so that Nikolaus can easily fill him when he visits in the night of December 5th.

Even our youngest preschoolers participated in the boot-lacing project this year!

Zehn kleine Zappelfinger / Ten Little Fidgety Fingers

I am quickly trying to find some finger plays that I can do with the little ones, now that we can’t sing for a while. Although “Zehn kleine Zappelmänner” is usually a song, it can be done as a finger play, too! I looked at a number of variations on the old favorite and came up with a version of my own.

First, I went with Finger instead of Männer. Especially for my youngest students, it made more sense to use the word for fingers. And isn’t it often our fingers that get fidgety?!

I made a little handout with the words that I am using for the fingerplay. The children can also color in the hands when they bring the coloring page home.

I will try to get a video of the fingerplay posted soon!

Thanksgiving-Dinner Umfrage / Survey

As a follow-up to my post from last week introducing food items you would find at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I created a few more accompanying materials.

In my 1st & 2nd grade class, I thought I would do a survey of who likes which foods. I will ask: “Wer isst x gern?” If they like it, they can stand up, if they don’t they stay seated. We will then count – in German, of course! – the students who are standing. And I will record the number in the box next to the food.

I made a similar sheet with smaller boxes as a handout, so the children can mark their own papers to show which foods they like to eat – Ich esse … gern!

Guten Appetit!

Das Thanksgiving-Dinner

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. They obviously do not celebrate it in Germany! And yet, the Germans I know are all rather fascinated by the holiday.

With my 5th & 6th graders, we have been practicing how to talk about foods that you like and don’t like. So with Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it would be fun to hear which traditional foods the kids like and which ones they don’t.

To talk about foods they like (gern essen) and foods they don’t like (nicht gern essen), I made some posters to hang:

Included in the download is also a single poster which includes both sentences, as well as a poster for expressing a favorite food. You can download these here:

Then I made a handout with 12 traditional Thanksgiving foods. I’m sure the kids will have ideas about what was left out! But I thought these covered the basics.

I also made individual posters that you can laminate to introduce the vocabulary. I have to say, I was surprised to find that pies are essentially called Kuchen. I always think of Kuchen as cake! But every source I checked used the same words. So Kürbiskuchen and Apfelkuchen it is!

Guten Appetit!

Zahlen / Numbers

We practice counting right from the start in Pre-K/Kindergarten classes! I thought I would collect a number of resources that I hand out at the beginning of the year.

Here is a video I made for counting to 12. In the video, I count farm animals. However, we don’t start learning those words until the spring. So you might want to watch for just about 1 minute 20 seconds 🙂

I have a variety of coloring pages, including some color-by-number, and even tracing pages for early readers. Scroll through to see the selection! The PDF download links are below each image.

Counting fish, numbers 1-5:

And here are 5 mice that go nicely with the finger play, Die Mausfamilie (The Mouse Family).

Or there are 10 mice!

Fall Color-by-number:

Tracing Number Words:

That’s all for now! Check back for updates throughout the year!

Fünf kleine Fische / Five Little Fish

In the fall, I love to read the books about Kleiner weißer Fisch (Little White Fish) by Guido van Genechten. They are sweet books that are perfect for early language learners. There is a whole series of the books, so we read 5 of them this year in Pre-k/Kindergarten.

To go along with the books, we also sing the song “Fünf kleine Fische”. The kids love it! They especially love the “blub blub blub” part. I have little hand motions that we do with the song, so the kids can play along, even before they have learned the words. Here is a video of how I sing the song with them:

Of course, we practice counting to 5 before we start singing! We count forward and backward, since the song starts with 5 fish and counts down to 1.

To go along with the song, I have a coloring page that also includes the lyrics to the song with an English translation:

You can download that PDF for FREE here:

I also have a simple coloring page of five fish. This coloring sheet includes the words to the song as well.

You can download the PDF for FREE here:

Finally, if you are musically inclined and would like the sheet music for the song, you can find it here from Sing Kinderlieder (PDF).

Viel Spaß beim Singen!

Alles über den Igel, Teil 2 (All about the Hedgehog, Part 2)

I have been working hard to create the rest of the pages for our unit on hedgehogs in 1st & 2nd grade. And I think they are finally finished!

I made two different cover pages. I think I will use the simple one and give instructions in German on which colors to color each element:

  • Die Stacheln des Igels sind dunkelbraun.
  • Das Körper und das Gesicht des Igels sind hellbraun.
  • Die Eule ist grau.
  • Der Pilz ist lila.
  • Das Blatt oben ist rot.
  • Das Blatt in der Mitte ist orange.
  • Das Blatt unten ist gelb.

We will do the cover page on the last day of the unit. There are three other pages (Habitat, Feinde, Essen). We will do one page per week.

The entire hedgehog unit will take us 6 weeks to complete. (We’ve already labeled the body parts and talked about where in the world hedgehogs live.)

Each week I also show the children an adorable picture of Mr. Herbee, the Hedgehog. Do you know him? He’s an Instagram sensation! He is the second hedgehog pet of a woman in Wiesbaden. The kids just love seeing his happy little face every week!

Download the PDF file of these worksheets here:

Answer sheets are included in the PDF file!

(Note that the program I used to make the worksheets creates for A4 paper. Just make sure you tell your printer to fit to letter size, if you are printing in the US!)

Alles über den Igel (All about the Hedgehog)

For our first lesson on the hedgehog in 1st & 2nd grade, I found a simple labeling project for the kids. I got it from Zaubereinmaleins.

I decided to leave mine as a full page, since I’m only using one of her pages from this Igelheft. Before we did the labeling, we reviewed some body parts in German and then sang “Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß“. It was a nice opportunity to get the kids moving, too.

Next week, I want to talk about where in the world you can find hedgehogs. As I mentioned in my last post, they are the most common mammals in Germany. Yet they are not indigenous to North America! So I created a worksheet for the kids to label on which continents hedgehogs live. I decided my first version was too difficult for little hands to color, so I ended up making two versions. One where they just color the matching box to “check it off” and one where they could color in the continents.

For the second worksheet, the kids can just check off the continents. Or they can also color them in. They could even be challenged first to see if they can color in Germany in a different color.

I found this image on Junior.de to use as my guide:

You can download the PDF of the worksheet here:

Our next hedgehog lesson will be about the habitat of the hedgehog. Stay tuned!