This group also heard the story of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker last week. So this week, these peaceful students colored a design printed on cardstock. Then we taped a feather (if they wanted) to come out of the “hat” and taped the paper to a toilet paper roll! Easy peasy! But so effective!
Aren’t they striking?! The children really did work so peacefully! I was pleasantly surprised, as it was the end of the day on the last day of school before winter break!
I found this simple craft at Sophie World. She has the template you can download for free (click the “Stats” tab to the right of “How to”.)
Each of my German classes is doing a different project. In the morning, my pre-k/kindergarten classes colored a shape Nutcracker.
In 1st & 2nd grade, the children created a GIANT collaborative 4-foot Nutcracker! Each child completed a piece of the puzzle. Then I put it all together and went over the outline with black marker. And then I laminated the whole thing – it just barely fit! It is now hanging in all its glory in the hall of our school!
I am so thrilled! I let the children color their “puzzle pieces” however they wanted. I asked that they use marker and do their best coloring. Some went bold. Others went for designs and detail. The overall effect is stunning!
I found the template and instructions at Art Projects for Kids. I did have to pay for it, but it comes in different sizes, and I can use it again and again! (She has a lot of other materials that are free. Definitely worth a look!)
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.
I wanted to give my elementary and middle school students some background information about nutcrackers. So after I told the story in each class, I gave them a worksheet in the form of a “Steckbrief“. We filled in the simple facts together. Each class got a different version, becoming more detailed as the kids get older.
In 1st and 2nd grade…
Then in 3rd and 4th grade …
It’s the same information, but with a little more to fill in.
Finally, in 5th and 6th grade …
They got more information.
You can download the Steckbriefe here as a PDF. Each one comes with an answer key.
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:
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!
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 😉
Sometimes a story works so well in 1st & 2nd grade, that I have to tell it again to the 3rd & 4th graders, even if it is a simple one. (The first image is from grades 1 & 2, the second image is from grades 3 & 4.) This story by Else Holmelund Minarik is a sweet classic. Perhaps you know the Little Bear stories, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak?
Little bear repeatedly goes inside to tell his mother he is cold. So she gives him a hat, then a coat, then snow pants. Finally she asks him if he wants a fur coat? He says yes! So she takes back the hat, the coat, and the snow pants and there you have it! He has his fur coat and is not cold anymore 🙂
It’s a sweet little story, and has great repetition for a beginner Story Listening lesson.
I added a bit of detail for the 3rd & 4th graders, and they enjoyed it just as much as the younger students.
Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. So when I was looking for a traditional tale to tell, I had to choose this one!
In some ways it was a simple story to tell, since the students were familiar with it. However, the original German from the Grimm Brothers is slightly different from the Disney version that we know. And some of the 3rd & 4th grade students had a harder time wrapping their minds around that idea. They wanted to know why I didn’t call the “evil” fairy Maleficent and draw horns on her. Perhaps I should take a few minutes before the story to talk about the way fairy tales evolve over time and how they can come in many different variations!