Jingle Bells

Today in story hour, we were celebrating Christmas! For our last song, we sang “Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling”. But you can’t sing that without some jingle bells, right?! So we crafted our own little jingle bell instruments.

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For the craft, you only need 2 materials: pipe cleaners in two different colors and some jingle bells! Make sure your bells have a large enough hole at the top for stringing the pipe cleaner through.

Instructions:

1. String the jingle bells on to one of the pipe cleaners.

2. Twist the second pipe cleaner around the first one with the jingle bells.

3. Bring the ends together to make a circle. Twist the ends to close the circle. Then tuck the ends around the circle. Remember, pipe cleaners often have a sharp end, so try to tuck those points out of the way as best as you can.

Need the lyrics to the song? You can view or download them here: Weihnachtslieder. Also included are the lyrics for “O Tannenbaum” and “Alle Jahre Wieder.”

If you’re looking for some children’s books about Christmas, we read these three in story hour:

  • Frohe Weihnachten, kleine Tiere (arsEdition, 2015)
  • Weihnachten ist bald (arsEdition, 2010)
  • Wir freuen uns auf Weihnachten (Ravensburger, 2010)

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

 

Christmas Punch

My very favorite memory from living in Germany is going to the Christmas markets in December. In every town, the market square is transformed into a holiday wonderland. Charming stalls go up from which vendors sell their handmade crafts, food, and drink. It feels like stepping into the magic of Christmas!

I only got to spend two Christmases in Germany. But both times, I made sure to visit as many Christmas markets as I could.

Every town in Germany – as with Austria and Switzerland – has a Weihnachtsmarkt. And every town has its own special Christmas mug. So as you stroll through the wonderland, you can keep warm as you sip your hot drink. For the adults, there is Glühwein, a mulled wine with spices like cinnamon and cloves that is served piping hot. For me it was an acquired taste. But as I made my way from one market to another – Freiburg, Mainz, Worms, Nürnberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Rüdesheim, and Innsbruck, just to name a few – I came to love that warm red wine that tasted like it was flavored with Christmas itself.

As I was only in Germany as an adult, I never bothered to try the children’s version of Glühwein. For them, there is an alcohol-free Kinderpunsch. Since I was visiting Froggy’s 1st & 2nd grade class today to share some of Germany’s Christmas traditions, I decided to bring them some Kinderpunsch. I found a few recipes online and tried them out until I got it right. Of course, I had no idea how it should really taste! So AP3 helped out 🙂  She had never made it herself, but she certainly knew if I’d gotten it right or not.

Here is the recipe that I came up with:

  • 1 liter of fruit tea (I used Celestial Seasonings decaffeinated rooibos pomegranate tea)
  • 1 liter of orange juice
  • 1 liter of grape juice
  • about 1/2 packet (about 5g) of vanilla sugar (I found Dr Oetker’s at my grocery store in the international section. I’ve also bought some from Savory Spice Shop.)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-5 whole cloves
  • 1 small lemon, sliced

Brew the tea in a pot. Then add the remaining ingredients and heat on low. I put my cinnamon sticks and cloves in a muslin bag, so they would be easy to remove. The longer you let the punch simmer, the more time it has to blend the ingredients. Serve warm and enjoy!

The children had mixed reactions, of course! Some loved it. For others, it was not quite their cup of tea!

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Montags mit Mama: Presents!

Hippo is really getting into the Christmas spirit! We put up our trees (yes, we have two! One with just ball ornaments in silver and red, one with all our special ornaments we’ve collected over the years), and now he wants to start putting presents under them! So he and AP3 have been “wrapping” presents!

He found a small empty box, filled it with some shape beanbags. Why? I don’t know! That’s just what he thought should go in the box! And then he and AP3 wrapped the box in some old Christmas paper.

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Is it perfect? Of course not! But he had so much fun! He was so happy to bring it to me as I’m working in my office (try not to look at the mess behind him!). And after I unwrapped his Geschenk, he wanted to do it all over again! I think they rewrapped the “gift” 3 times!

You don’t need anything special. Just grab an empty box, some old wrapping paper, tape, and whatever your little one wants to put in the box. Turn on the holiday music, and have some fun!

What a simple activity to do during the holidays!

Learning Vocabulary with an Adventskalendar (Advent Calendar)

Years ago when I was teaching at a German Saturday school, I wanted a fun way for my students to learns some Christmas vocabulary. I remembered making a paper chain advent calendar as a child and thought I could combine the two into a fun activity. For the past few years, I’ve been working on creating something similar for my kids. This new version includes printed stickers (that you make using round labels). Froggy has enjoyed it for the past few years. And now Hippo is old enough to get in on the action. I have the words printed on two different papers, so there won’t be any arguing over whose turn it is to do the calendar!

 

Here’s more on how it works:

Materials:

  • round white labels, 1 2/3 inches in diameter (compatible with Avery 5293)
  • white card stock, 2 pieces
  • tape
  • scissors or craft (X-ACTO) knife
  • letter-sized paper in holiday print, red and green, or whatever pattern/color you like, 2 pieces (I have a stack of 12×12 holiday crafting paper, and I just cut it down to size: 8½ x 11)
  • glue/tape/stapler

Instructions:

  1. Print the stickers on the round labels.
  2. Choose which version you want and print out the Adventskalendar on the card stock.
  3. Tape the two pages together to make one long page.
  4. Carefully cut slits in the bottom page along the two black lines. (You can use an exacto knife or the blade of a pair of scissors.)
  5. Print the chain vocabulary words on patterned/colored letter-sized paper. *If using patterned paper, be sure to print on the back (white) side!
  6. Cut out the vocabulary words. A paper-cutter comes in handy here! Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You won’t really see the lines!
  7. Begin making your paper chain, securing your loops with glue, tape, or a stapler. Be sure to save one strip to attach the chain to the Adventskalendar. Be sure the word is on the inside and the decorative side is facing out! You can put them in random order or in alphabetical order (like the Adventskalendar). Slip the last strip through the slits you made in the bottom of the Adventskalendar and then through the first loop on your chain.

Hang up your Adventskalendar! I like to use double-sided poster tape. Each day, have your child take off one strip. Copy the word onto the black space (if using the version without words). And match the sticker to the word!

I used to hang ours on the outside of the pantry door in the kitchen. But this year, I hung it up in the dining room next to our German calendar. I like that the kids can see it while they are eating at the table.

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Download all the materials in PDF here:

Stay tuned for a fun craft to celebrate Nikolaus!

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