Nikolaus – in 5th & 6th Grade

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!

You can find the free download and solutions in this post.

Nikolaus – in 3rd & 4th Grade

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 ­čÖé 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!

Nikolaus – in 1st & 2nd Grade

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, B├Ąr! (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!

I gave out a coloring page with words to the most common Nikolaus song for children who finished early or to take home to color. (You can download that from this post.)

Nikolaus Lied / Song

Normally, I would teach the children the song “Lasst uns froh und munter sein” when we celebrate Nikolaus. (Check out this post to see how I teach it and get the free materials to go along with it!) However, as we are not singing in the classrooms right now, I just played the song for them as they work on crafting their boots.

However, I did send them home with a coloring page that also has the words to the song!

You can download the coloring page for free here:

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 Zappelm├Ąnner” 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 M├Ąnner. 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 K├╝rbiskuchen 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 ­čÖé

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!

F├╝nf kleine Fische / Five Little Fish

In the fall, I love to read the books about Kleiner wei├čer 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 “F├╝nf 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 Spa├č beim Singen!