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 ūüôā¬† 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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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.

Teaching Colors with Elmar dem Elefanten

I’ve had a hard time teaching colors to my pre-K/kindergarten class in the past. I needed a book that had something of a story to hold the children’s interest and more importantly, I needed a color song.

For the book, I am going to try out Elmar mag alle Farben by David McKee (Thienemann-Esslinger, 2015). (If you are familiar with these books in English, you’ll notice that the spelling is different: Elmer with an “e” in English, Elmar with an “a” in German.)

It’s very simple, which I really like. But it isn’t just page after page of Elmar mag rot … Elmar mag blau … und, und, und. It isn’t exactly a story, but each set of pages tells a kind of mini story. For example: “Der Schneemann ist wei√ü. Sein lila Schal h√§lt ihn warm.” Nice and simple, but still interesting.

Elmar mag alle Farben

Before I get to the book, however, I need to introduce the colors. I made a rainbow out of felt pieces that stack on top of each other. That way, I can introduce each color individually, but I can also stack them up to make my rainbow. Now if only I had remembered to get myself a felt board! I’ll have to improvise a little here ūüôā

I still have not found a simple song to teach the colors. So I finally came up with my own! It’s to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” and just repeats the colors:

rot, orange, gelb, gr√ľn, blau, lila
rot, orange, gelb, gr√ľn, blau, lila
rot, orange, gelb, gr√ľn, blau, lila
in dem Regenbogen

Just make sure you sing the word “orange” on two notes (one for each syllable). I’ll keep my felt rainbow out to point to the colors as we sing it. Easy peasy!

I always end with a book and then an activity – usually a coloring sheet. So I made up a very simple checkered Elmar coloring page to include all six colors.

 

Elmar Farben GitA-page-001

Each of the colored crayons points to a box to color in, so that Elmar ends up looking like a checkered rainbow.

You can download the coloring page here: Elmar Farben GitA

Viel Spaß!

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!

Martinstag in the Classroom: Part 2

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 1st & 2nd Grade…

This is a mixed class of 22 students. I couldn’t just jump right in with books and songs, like I did in Story Hour. Instead, I started with the story of Sterntaler. The children were outraged that the poor girl was all alone! And then shocked when she kept giving everything away! They were right with me the whole time ūüôā¬† My board looked a little different, since they needed more help to understand it. But they had also experienced the method the week before when I told them Goldilocks. Here is a picture of my finished board for Sterntaler:

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After that, I read them the story of Martin, using the book Das erste Buch von Sankt Martin by Erwin Grosche (Gabriel Verlag, 2017). I used the book mainly for the illustrations and wrote out the story in English beforehand. I knew after hearing Sterntaler, that was probably enough German for that class (especially since it was 2pm on a Friday … the week of Halloween!).

Martin

Next I wanted to teach them the song, “Laterne, Laterne“. The beginning is so simple with its four words: Laterne, Sonne, Mond, Sterne. I knew they would need a little movement by this time, though, so I came up with a little game. I had printed out the vocab words on small cards.¬†I printed enough so that each child could have a card. I just used my full-sized word posters and printed them 4-to-a-page. Then I laminated them and cut them down to size.

I handed the cards out to the children and then had them get into groups according to the picture – in order, of course! I had already gone over the words using my full-sized word posters. So they were familiar enough with the vocab. I called out a word, and that group had to raise their picture and say the word. I mixed them up and first. Then I told them to pay attention, because we were going to speed it up! And I went in order according to the song: Laterne! Laterne! Sonne! Mond! Sterne! They enjoyed the little game. And weren’t they surprised when I told them they had just learned the beginning of a song?!

You can download the word posters along with song lyrics in the post Der gute Martin.

Finally, it was time to make our lanterns! We did them a little differently in this older class. Although in hindsight, I’m not sure I would do it this way again!

  1. I gave them white paper cut down to size (without the strip for the handle) and let them color it however they liked.
  2. I gave them the lantern template printed on yellow paper (without the sun, moon, and stars – just the lines for cutting and folding) and asked them to cut the strip off the end to make the handle.
  3. They glued their white paper to the yellow template (I might do this step myself, in advance, if I try it again).
  4. They folded the paper (I was surprised how many of them did not fold on the line, but folded the long edge of the paper up to the line! If you read my post with instructions, you’ll see why I decided to give step-by-step instructions the next time!)
  5. They cut the “fringe”.
  6. We went around and stapled the lanterns together along with their handles

The lanterns turned out alright in the end. But it took so long that we did not have time to parade in the halls.

Then again, it was the last hour of school on a Friday. And did I mention it was Halloween week?? Scary stuff!! ūüôā

Tutorial and templates can be found in the post Martinstag Lanterns!

Viel Spaß!

Martinstag in the Classroom: Part 1

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 Story Hour…

We read a couple of books, sing the traditional songs, and make paper lanterns. Then we get to parade through the library. This year, we even got to go into the bank next door! To read more about the books and songs, you can check out the story hour blog. They were all so proud of their lanterns:

2017-11-03 Martinstag post

I often like to tell the fairy tale of the Sterntaler. It’s the story of a little girl who is alone in the world and has next to nothing. And still, she gives away everything she does have. In the end, the stars fall from the sky and become gold coins, and she is wearing a beautiful new slip of the finest material. I usually read a little book about it, but this year, I chose to tell it as a story using the Story Listening method. Here is what my board looked like when I was finished:

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I wasn’t sure how the method would work in a room full of children who already know so much German – not to mention their German-speaking parents! But the children were mesmerized! And the parents really enjoyed it, too!

The next post on 1st and 2nd grade is coming…

Viel Spaß!

 

Martinstag Lanterns

Every year I like to share the celebration of St. Martin with the children I teach – in the story hour, in the pre-K/kindergarten class, and now in the 1/2 class I’m working with. It’s such a wonderful celebration of the spirit of giving.

Every year we make a simple paper lantern. This year, I learned a few things to make the project even better ūüôā Here are the children from Lesestunde with their lanterns:

2017-11-03 Martinstag postJust look at those smiling faces ūüėČ

And here is what the template for the lantern looks like (front & back):

  1. Cut the long strip off the left side to save for the handle (follow the long line on the “back” image)
  2. Color the front – the sun, moon, and stars
  3. Turn to the back and fold the paper along the dotted line
  4. Cut “fringe” along the other dotted lines – stopping at the hash mark at the end
  5. Unfold the paper – fold it back the other way
  6. Wrap the paper to make the lantern, staple at the bottom, staple at the top along with the handle

First, I decided to get out my paper cutter and cut the handles off for the children. Having to first cut a whole strip off the paper and then make fringe seemed rather confusing. This way, they only have to worry about the fringe. It worked great!

Sedond, I am learning to give better – clearer – instructions! You would think this would be obvious. But it’s something you really have to think about! So I had Hippo help me make samples of our Laternen – one for every step (color, fold & fringe, unfold):

When I went in to his class, I had the samples all ready. So I could easily demonstrate the steps to the children. I showed them a colored paper. Then I showed them how to fold it. I had one folded already with one line of fringe cut. Then I showed them how to cut along the dotted lines to cut the rest of the fringe. That’s basically all they needed to do. We had four adults for 20 children in the room (I brought AP4 with me – another great idea!), so we each had a table of 5 children to help. When they were finished with their three steps, we folded the paper into the lantern shape and stapled on the handles. It was the most successful lesson I’ve ever taught for Martinstag!

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See how the lantern “poofs” when you fold the the paper back on itself in the middle after you cut the fringe?

To download the instructions and template for the lanterns, click here: Martinstag Laterne (GitA)

For other materials, see my posts from previous years:

Viel Spaß beim basteln!

Goldilocks and … Two Firsts for Me!

For the very first time, I taught in Froggy’s 1st & 2nd grade class! And for the very first time, I used a method of language teaching called Story Listening (SL). You can read all about the method at the Stories First website. It was a total success! I’m so thrilled!

I had the children for a whole hour!

As I entered the group, I said, “Guten Morgen,” and repeated it. To my delight, the children chimed right in! Then we went right into “Ich hei√üe…” Again, they were ready to repeat! We practiced the “ch” sound. Then we started again. The only thing was, they repeated my whole sentence, including my name ūüôā¬† So we straightened that out, and I went around the room, asking each child’s name. I started with the 4 children who had been in my German class in Pre-K/Kindergarten. I figured they would be more comfortable with saying the phrase, and they could also be a good model for the other children.

Next, I talked to the children about magic. Yup. Magic. To me, speaking a foreign language is a lot like making magic! It’s like cracking a code. Or knowing a secret – the good kind of secret ūüôā¬† And just look! All of the children had already worked some magic! I never told them what Guten Morgen or Ich hei√üe meant. But of course, they knew. Then I told them I was going to teach them some more magic a little later….

Then I taught them the hello song. I used my word posters to teach them the actions: klatschen, stampfen, patschen. And we counted to 2. We talked about doing the actions quietly, so the classroom below us didn’t think there’s a herd of elephants – or a thunderstorm – upstairs! And then I asked them if I was showing them the right word, so they could practice ja and nein. Finally, it was time to sing the song!

Next it was time for the children to be magicians! Because I was going to tell them a story.

A whole story, all in German!

I asked them to listen with their ears and watch with their eyes, and just relax and take it all in.

Of course, we needed our magic words to start the story: Es war einmal…

I had practiced telling a simplified story of¬†Goldl√∂ckchen (Goldilocks). As you tell the story, you draw pictures on the board and write the word in German (L2) underneath it. You can use other tools from the SL toolkit (on their website), too, like gestures and antonyms to help with comprehension. The children were right with me, the whole time! Here’s what the board looked like when I was finished:

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Of course, by the time I had finished, the kids were a little restless. Time for some movement! So we played a game of Simon sagt! We used the verbs from the hello song (klatschen, stampfen, patschen) plus the verbs from our story: essen, spazieren gehen, rennen, einschlafen, aufwachen. It was a big hit!

Then I had handouts for the children to do. I had come up with 5 ideas, and the teachers liked them all, so we made up packets for them to do. The first and second-graders got different ones, based on difficulty.

You can download the handouts here: Goldlöckchen Arbeitsblätter GitA

The Stories First website also has a collection of stories for various languages and levels in the Great Story Reading Project. You do have to register to gain access.