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!
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:
Trace the boot template onto a piece of folded construction paper.
Cut out the boot and punch holes where the black dots are.
Let the children color the boot.
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).
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.
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!
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 Zappelmänner” 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 Männer. 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.
In the fall, I love to read the books about Kleiner weißer 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 “Fünf 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:
We’re back!! Our school opened before Labor Day, and I’m so proud of the work that everyone in the building has done to make it safe for our children. For the first few weeks, only the younger children are in the building: pre-k through 2nd grade. Hopefully the big kids will be able to get away from their screens and be back in the building next week.
Because of all the new COVID protocols, specials teachers are going into the classrooms, so as to keep the children in their “pods”. There is also less movement throughout the school that way. For me, it means that I now will be teaching two grades at once. (I’m at a Montessori school, and one of the beautiful parts about it is that the children are in multi-grade classrooms.)
While teaching two grades at once could be a challenge (although so far, so good!), it also presents a new opportunity. Instead of getting each grade for 30 minutes, I have the whole class for about 50 minutes. So in addition to teaching German through Story Listening, I’m able to add in some culture, too!
My prek-k/kindergarten classes have not changed too much. Except that I am teaching them outside under a tent! We have the chairs spaced well apart, and I spray them clean in between classes. I use a face shield, so they can see my face, and the children wear masks (I truly hope they won’t have to for long!). The biggest challenge is hearing them and recognizing them! My shield also creates a weird echo for me, so I do come home with a headache each week. But it’s wonderful to see the children! We can still sing songs and read stories. And since we have more room outside, we can even be a bit bigger with our movements and our volume!
In 1st & 2nd grade, I begin the class by washing my hands. Since we’re supposed to do this for 20 seconds, I have the kids count to 20 with me in German! It’s great! Maybe after they get those down, we’ll try counting backwards. Or count 21 – 40!
Then I was inspired by the morning meeting the class has every day. (Listening in to Hippo’s virtual learning last spring gave me the idea!) First we go over the date in German. I made a sign that I laminated, so I can fill in the day, date, and month with dry-erase marker. Then we talk about the weather. Every day in their class, they go over the temperature (high, low & differential), the wind, the precipitation, and a description. That’s a lot! So we are starting with just the description. They already stumped me this week when they said it was hazy. I’m going to have to look that one up!
Next comes our story. I love to start this group with the story Danke, Bear! by Greg Foley. It’s such a sweet, short, repetitive story. And it’s so easy to adapt. On the first day, I told it about bear who finds a box for his friend the mouse. Along the way to find the mouse, he encounters a rabbit, a frog, and a hedgehog, who all think the box is igittigitt! But he knows it is perfekt for the mouse. And indeed, it is! The second week, I tell it as an elephant who finds a red box for his friend, the green snake. He encounters a lion, a zebra, and a parrot. Next week, I’m thinking about a turtle who finds a shell for his friend, the crab….
After Story Listening, the children work on their very own picture dictionary. I made them for the kids over the summer. Each week, I teach them (mostly in German) how to draw one word from the story. Then they write the German word under it.
For our cultural theme, I don’t have a whole lot of time. So we’re going to spread our learning unit out over about 5 weeks to start. I decided to do some lessons on the hedgehog. Not only are they super cute! But I learned that they are the most common mammal in Germany, while they are not indigenous to the US at all! Read my next post to see what we’re learning about hedgehogs!
As I was preparing this week’s lesson on farm animals, I came up with the idea of having the children make puppets with the farm animals. It’s simple enough! Download the PDF, color and label the animals. Then cut them out and glue them to craft sticks!
For the past two years, I have been singing the song “Mh mh macht der grüne Frosch im Teich” with my preschoolers and kindergartners. They LOVE it!
I usually do some lessons on farm animals in the spring, and we sing the song for several weeks in a row. I often bring a little canvas bag filled with my farm animal finger puppets (if you watched the video on counting farm animals, you know I have 12!), and I pull one out at a time. Then we sing about that animal.
Just because we’re learning from home right now doesn’t mean we have to skip the song! I made a video where I talk about the farm animals and what they “say” in German (yes! even animals speak differently in different languages!). Then I sing the song, using my finger puppets.
For my young students, I wanted to review numbers today. We count regularly in class, so I thought it would be a good idea to refresh the numbers. I also used farm animals to count, so that I can introduce them in a week or two.
I made a video of counting:
Then I made a counting sheet for the children to do at home. Count the animals in German, then circle the correct number below. There is a color and a black & white version.
I also found some cute clips of Graf Zahl from Sesamstraße (The Count from Sesame Street). I posted them to one of my YouTube playlists (It may look like the same video as above, but this link takes you to the playlist – you can click through the videos here or click on YouTube at the bottom of the video to go there and find the list):
For this week’s remote lesson for my preschoolers & kindergartners, I wanted to review the weather. We had been working on it for several weeks before school closed. After our Hello song, we would review the words and record the weather in our chart.
I created a weekly chart for recording the weather. It looks like this:
I also made a page of cards in color or black & white. They can be used as a whole sheet to review the words. Or they can be cut up into flashcards. If you print two sets, you can use them to play Memo!
When I first talk to my young students about the weather, I ask them: “Was für Wetter haben wir heute?” (What kind of weather do we have today?) This question prompts them to answer with the noun form: Sonne – Wind – Regen (sun, wind, rain, etc.). It keeps things simple at first.
Later we can get into the question: “Wie ist das Wetter heute?” (How is the weather today?). Those answers can vary: “Die Sonne scheint.” – “Es ist winding.” – “Es regnet.” (The sun is shining. – It is windy. – It’s raining.)
If you want to practice writing some of the words, I made some worksheets a couple of years ago that work nicely with these materials. Click on over to this post about weather to find those!
Just make sure you sing the word “orange” on two notes (one for each syllable). It’s a simple song, but we make it lots of fun by starting slowing and then going schneller!!! (faster) I always have to remind the kids to stay with me, and I tap the colors to the beat as we sing them. It can quickly get out of hand! But the kids love it 🙂
I made this video for my young students while we sare having to do remote learning, so you can sing along:
In the video, I show some word posters to refresh the vocabulary.
I also made the comparative posters – schneller & langsamer – since we always say “schneller!!” at the end of the song before we sing it again. Here are the PDF files: