A Little More for “Martinstag”

I was in the Pre-K/Kindergarten class today. I just love sharing the stories of St. Martin with the children. In a Montessori-based school where the principles of peace and respect are not only taught, but practiced on a daily basis, the kindness and generosity of the St. Martin story fit in beautifully.

This year, I had a new tool for telling the story. I ordered a set of Bildkarten (picture cards) called St. Martin feiern mit Emma und Paul – Bildkarten für unser Erzähltheater. The cards are nice and big (DIN-A3: 11.7 x 16.5 inches), and the images are simple and clear. I didn’t use all of the cards, but chose a few to talk about Martin cutting his cloak in two to share with the beggar, the children crafting lanterns and then parading at night in the town square. There are also some images to show Paul dropping his Martinsmann cookie and Emma breaking her own cookie in two to share with Paul. Very sweet!

The books I have for Martinstag have quite a bit of text. They work fine for story hour, where the children come from German-speaking families. However, I really liked the format of having large pictures to show while I explained the story, simply and in English.


After teaching the words to “Laterne, Laterne,” the children made their paper lanterns – with some help from the two teachers and myself. We were glad to have some tape on hand, as a few of the children didn’t quite get the instruction not to cut all the way through! One of the teachers gave the useful tip that cutting the strips in the lanterns is very much like cutting fringe – a work they do regularly in the classroom.

As the children finished their lanterns, they took a seat on the rug until everyone was finished. Then we sang the song as we paraded through the classroom and out into the hall. The principal and several other staff members came out to see where the singing was coming from. She said it sounded like little angels!

If you missed the post on the lantern instructions or the vocabulary cards to help teach the song, click here to go back and take a look!

How do you help the children celebrate Martinstag? I’d love to hear!

Der gute Martin

Next week marks the celebration of St. Martin’s Day. I have to admit, while I lived in Germany, I never actually witnessed the children walking through the streets with their homemade lanterns on November 11th. I didn’t know about the special day until I was teaching in the States at a German Saturday School. It’s such a sweet celebration, though! Now I love to share it with the children at Story Hour and in Preschool.

To go along with the celebration, I have created a very simple lantern for the children to make. You can print it out, let them color the paper if they like, and then cut along the dotted lines and assemble it. You can download the template and instructions in PDF format here: martinstag-laterne


A finished lantern from Story Hour

The songs that go with Martinstag are also very important. We always sing two of the most popular ones at Story Hour: “Laterne, Laterne” and “Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne.” When I teach Preschool, I often just do the first two lines of “Laterne, Laterne,” since it is easy to learn and helps the children learn some of the more important vocabulary words: Laterne, Sonne, Mond, and Sterne. To teach the songs, I made up some vocabulary posters of these four words, a coloring page, and a sheet with the lyrics. You can download all of them in PDF format here:


Here’s an idea of what they look like:

When I teach Martinstag at Story Hour, I include several books. I have a few about Martinstag itself. This year, we’ll be reading Laterne, Laterne, da oben leuchten die Sterne by Dagmar Geisler and Rosemarie Künzler-Behncke (Ravensburger, 2009). I also like to read the fairy tale “Sterntaler” about the little girl who gives away all her earthly possessions to others in need and is rewarded in the end with a shower of coins that fall from the stars to last her the rest of her life. (I actually made my own book of this fairy tale, so I don’t have one to recommend here.) This year, I’m adding a beautiful new book (well, new to me!) called Der rote Faden by Anne-Gaëlle Balpe and illustrated by Eve Tharlet (Minedition, 2014). In this story, little Oli finds a red thread and by passing it on, he learns how little it takes to help others.