The Waiting Game

Anyone who has traveled anywhere knows that at some point, you will be stuck somewhere waiting … and waiting … and WAITING.

Waiting for the plane to take off. Waiting in the airport when the plane is delayed. Waiting for the car you rented to be returned by another family. Or waiting for the car seats you rented along with your car to be returned by another family. Waiting in a restaurant. Waiting for a train. Waiting in line to get into a museum or other attraction. There are so many opportunities to WAIT when you travel!

When you have kids, waiting can be torture!

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The whining starts. There’s no where to sit. Everyone is tired and CRANKY! So what do you do?!

If you’re lucky, you have some space and can pull activities out of the luggage for the kids to do. You know, like all those activities I talk about in my TRAVEL ACTIVITIES tabs at the top of this page 😉

But if you’re stuck waiting for a rental car in a train station, for example, (like we were one summer in the Frankfurt train station – we waited almost an hour!) – THEN WHAT??

Then you need EASY GAMES TO PLAY THAT NEED NO PROPS! Here are some ideas that have worked like a charm to pass the time:

  • I Spy – You know the drill! Someone picks something that they see, and then everyone takes turns asking questions to try to guess what it is. We usually give a general clue, such as a color: “I spy something yellow.”
  • 20 Questions – Similar to I Spy, but instead of picking something you can see, you pick anything you want. You can ask that the “chooser” define category (animals, famous people, etc.) or give some parameter (“I’m thinking of something red.”). Then everyone takes turns asking yes/no questions until someone guesses the answer.
  • Simon Says – I like this game for giving the kids some activity, but within a controlled manner. This way, the kids can get out some energy (hop on one foot five times!), but they are not running all over the place.
  • The Alphabet Game – This is my personal favorite. You need to be in a place that has a number of signs – the more signs, the easier the game. You start with the letter A and try to find a word that has an A in it. Then move on to B, etc. We always take turns. We played it in the Frankfurt train station that time we waited for an hour for our rental car, and I added the rule that they had to say the word that had the letter in it. This way, they were saying German words, too 😉  (Hippo was too little to read, so we helped him out.)
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors – This one doesn’t take much time, but it can be fun to play!
  • Make up a story – One person could tell a story. Or tell a chain story, where one person starts, then the next person picks up the thread, and so on.
  • Take pictures – I prefer not to turn to technology in these situations. But another idea is to let the kids take some pictures with your phone. You could even give them some specific instructions: Take a close-up of a family member’s eye! Find a red triangle! Get creative!

One thing that I really like about these games is that they get everyone involved. If you just hand your kid your phone, then there is no interaction. We have turned some awful waiting situations (did I mention that Frankfurt train station incident?!) into a really fun time! Not only did the wait seem shorter, but we laughed an awful lot!

Halloween Bingo auf Deutsch – The Rules

I recently posted my Halloween Bingo game to play in German. Actually, you could use the Bingo Cards in any language as long as you know the words for all of the images!

But I forgot to explain how we were going to play it! So here are THE RULES:

Before we began, I used the word posters to review the vocab.

Then I used the little cards to “draw” the image. I also rolled a die to see in which column (Spalte) they had to look for the image. Obviously there are only 5 columns. So if I rolled a 6, they could cover the images anywhere on the board. (The boards have each image two times – 12 images for 24 squares.)

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My 3rd & 4th grades had a blast playing!

I also had non-candy prizes for them. I had found some German pencils at Teacher’s Discovery. They say “Mach Fehler. So lernst du.” I thought that was a fun phrase! You can get them here (12 for $3.95).

Halloween Bingo

Last year I made up some Halloween Bingo cards, but I forgot to post them! I never actually had a chance to use them, either. Maybe this year?!

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There is a whole set of materials:

  • Bingo Cards (set of 12) – Download PDF for FREE here: Halloween Bingo GitA
  • Word posters for introducing the 12 vocabulary words – Download PDF for FREE here: Halloween Wortschatz Posters GitA
  • 3 sets of small cards with the 12 vocab words: pictures with words, just words, just pictures. These could also be used for other games, such as Memory or Go Fish. Download PDF for FREE here: Memory Cards GitA

Here is a sample of some of the word posters:

And here is what the small cards with words look like:

Now the only thing I have left to do is figure out what I’m using for Bingo chips! It would be fun to have something Halloween related. I’m just not sure what that would be….

Viel Spaß!

Story Listening: Goldlöckchen

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This week’s story was Goldilocks. Even though it is a story that is familiar to the children, it still works great for Story Listening. There is something comfortable about knowing the story and being able to predict what is coming next.

1st & 2nd Grade:

We sang a new song in class: the German version of “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes.” In German, you sing “foot” instead of “toes.” It goes like this:

Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß
Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß
Augen, Ohren, Nase und Mund
Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß, Knie und Fuß

(That funny letter in “Fuß” is called an Eszett and is basically a double “s.”)

Sometimes it is hard to sing a song that you already know in another language! So we’ll keep working on it 🙂

3rd & 4th Grade:

We have been working on colors the past two weeks. So we added some new ones: schwarz, weiß, braun, grau, & rosa (black, white, brown, gray, & pink).

Although I shouldn’t really say “working,” because mostly we are having fun with these words! The children love to play games, so we played a round of “Ich habe …, Wer hat…?” (I have, Who has?). (I got the game here.)

And we played their favorite game: Ja oder Nein. I hold up a color and ask if they like it (in German, of course). If the answer is yes, they say, “Ja!” and move to one side of the room. If the answer is no, they say, “No!” and move to the other side of the room. We have had to add in der Mitte (in the middle) for those who can’t quite make up their minds 🙂

Goldilocks is available on The Great Story Reading Project 🙂

Story Listening: Eine Reise

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This week’s story was taken from an easy ready called Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel. You may also know him from his Frog and Toad stories. I really enjoy his humor 🙂 Alas, humor does not always translate well, and the kids didn’t quite get the punchline. But it was still a good story.

The story is called “A Journey.” It is about a mouse who wants to visit his mother (I changed it to grandmother). Along the way, he encounters all kinds of challenges, but there is always someone on the side of the road selling something – roller skates, boots, sneakers – to help him on his way. When at last he can’t go one more step, there is a person at the side of the road selling … feet! He buys them and puts them on and makes it all the way to dear grandmother’s house!

So telling a joke in a foreign language can be tricky! Even after I explained it in English, the kids didn’t seem to quite understand. Because, really, you can’t just take off your feet and put on new ones!

Nevertheless, the story had some rich vocabulary, and we had fun with it.

I’m using the same story in grades 1 – 4, since they are all beginners. Somehow, each lessons is always a little different….

Grades 1 & 2:

I started the lessons with a little TPR to get the “wiggles” out. It’s kind of like Simon Says. This week, we did a series about washing hands and then sang the song “Hände waschen”. (You can listen to the song in this YouTube clip.)

I also used a counting rhyme – like eeny meeny miney mo – to invite the children to the rug for our story. It just happens to correspond with the story, because it talks about taking off and putting on shoes!

Eine kleine Mickymaus
zog sich mal die Schuhe aus,
zog sie wieder an,
und du bist dran!

Grade 3:

We had a little scheduling confusion, so the lesson was shorter today. We only got to sing our hello song and hear the story. But that is the most important part of the lesson anyway! We’ll play games again next week 🙂

Grade 4:

Because of the scheduling confusion, the 4s actually had a longer lesson. Since they had decided to pick new German names, I handed out name tags for each of them, and we did a little Q&A about who was who.

We also played a game based on the food from the Hungry Caterpillar lesson. It was a simple game of “I have, who has”. I made up the cards to have everything they needed to say in German. We played two rounds of it, and they improved so quickly! Here is a sample of the cards:

You can download the PDF of the card game here: kleine Raupe Ich habe Wer hat – GitA

They wanted to play our yes or no game again, so we played that, too. I just held up a card an asked who like each food. If they liked it, they said “ja” and went to one side of the room. If they didn’t like it, they said “nein” and went to the other side of the room.

Das Wetter – The Weather

We’re doing a little review today in pre-K/kindergarten. It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of the year! The children have learned so much! And I’m so inspired to do even more with them next year!!

One of the things we will review today is the weather. We’ll look out the window to see what the weather is like and what we see: die Sonne, der Wind, die Wolke. It’s a beautiful day today 🙂

And we’ll read Elmar mag jedes Wetter again.

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I prepared a coloring page for them as well. There are two versions. In the first version, the children can trace the weather words under the pictures. In the second version, I’ve given them a bit of a challenge. There is a word bank (Wortschatz), and they will have to choose the appropriate word to write under the image. I have plenty of each, so the children can choose what they would like to do.

You can download the PDF version here for FREE: Wetter Malvorlage GitA

Check out these other weather materials to go along with Elmar! And for other weather work, just click on the “weather” tag at the right!

Olympische Winterspiele – Activities

I haven’t had time to come up with any of my own activities for the Winter Olympics. But I’ve found some nice worksheets and reading cards on other sites that I thought I’d share.

I really like the materials over on Lehrmittelperlen (you must subscribe to obtain access to their materials – about $20 per year).

Other reading cards about the various sports can be found at Fächerübergreifend leicht gemacht.

KinderSuppe has a variety of materials and activities (search “Olympische Winterspiele”). You have to subscribe to obtain access to most of their materials, however they do offer some things for free:

  • Olympic Rings: Print out the page to color the Olympic rings. They suggest using paint and cotton swabs to color them in! There are two versions: one with a colored dot to indicate the ring colors; one with the color word spelled in the ring.
  • Summer or Winter? This activity has children sorting cards of various sports into summer and winter sport.

What are you doing to learn about the Winter Olympics in German?