Back to School – Where Does German Fit in?

Today was the first day of 2nd grade for Froggy. While homework won’t start coming home until next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to piggyback some German work onto it.

For school, he’ll be expected to do about 10 minutes of math and 20 minutes of reading (that includes bedtime books, thankfully!). So I don’t want to do more than 10 minutes of German, or I know I’ll lose him.

I want to get back to basics with both kids, so I’ll be working on letters with Hippo and reading with Froggy.

I plan to start our day in German. The kids have been having German breakfasts with our au pair, so we’ll continue that. And I’m going to try to do some fun letter work with them at breakfast, too. We’ll have a letter of the week and different objects that represent that letter.

After school, I want to start us off by playing some educational games. I found a number of alphabet and reading games while I was in Germany this summer. Things like the Clever Spielen series.

Clever spielen

I know I’ll keep their interest more if I can keep it fun!

The good news is that Froggy is taking an interest in learning more German. It always seems to happen when we are in Europe over the summer. Even being in the Netherlands seems to bring out his German – as if hearing another language activates his own second language, even though they are different! I just hope it lasts!

I also want to use up some of his homework reading time with German. The teachers were okay with that last year. So we’ll read some German books at bedtime, too.

Tonight we read a fun one by Erwin Moser called Das große Buch von Koko und Kiri. I just love his humor 🙂 Both boys needed help with comprehension here and there, but they got most of it!

I just stumbled on to a post about homework and bilingual children. For Emilia at Raising a Trilingual Child, it was more a question of which of the family’s three languages to speak when helping her children with their homework. It’s the kind of question most parents never think about. I know it would never occur to me to speak German while helping Froggy with his homework!

How do you work in lessons in your minority language when the kids go back to school? And what language do you speak with your children when helping them with their homework?

Valentine Countdown

Recently, two different friends sent me a picture of the same idea: decorating the kids’ doors with Valentine hearts. You hang one up every day for 14 days starting on the first of February. But to make them even more special, you write something you love about your child on each heart. Love that!

Of course, I have to turn this into an opportunity to put a little German in front of the boys! So every night I’ve been putting up a heart with a German sentence about the boys. I write in all caps for Hippo, since he’s still learning letters and not reading yet. Froggy gets regular letters, which show off the capitalized German nouns better! So far, I’ve written the same messages on both doors. They can be a bit competitive! At some point, I might write more specific messages.

 

Here are some of the messages:

  • Wir haben dich lieb!
  • Ich mag es, wenn du lachst!
  • Du kannst gut tanzen!
  • Du bist ein guter Bruder!
  • Es hat Spaß gemacht, das Spiel mit dir anzuschauen!
  • Du bist sehr lustig!

Update: I just added a picture of the finished door. It’s so colorful! I think we’ll leave the hearts up for a while!

It’s not too late to start! Even if you just do a few, it’s a great idea!

I think I tracked down the blog where my friends found the original picture: it’s called Skip to My Lou.

Have fun with your hearts! Let me know what messages you leave!

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Valentine Mazes

A while back, Froggy was really into mazes. I mean, REALLY! We all got good at drawing them. And I used to make them on the computer, too. So I thought I would post a week’s worth of Valentine mazes! If your child is starting to read, this is a fun way to get them to read a sentence, too!

You can download all 7 PDF files here in a zip folder:

Valentinstaglabyrinthe-GitA

Here’s an idea of what they look like:

Weather Plan: Week 2

Our weather unit continues this week! I used a lot of printable worksheets from iSL Collective this week. They were nice and easy. I’ve included links to the pages here. I hope they work! I don’t think you need a membership to view them. (It’s free to join!)

  • Day 1:
    • Wetterkarte: “Wie ist das Wetter?” (iSL Collective) – This is a weather map of Europe, and you have to tell what the weather is in 8 cities. Only thing is, the weather is mostly the same! I ended up doing the writing, so the focus was on speaking and vocab (saying the phrases he had been learning).
  • Day 2:
    • Partnerarbeit: “Wetter in Deutschland Wechselspiel” (iSL Collective) – This activity is for two people. Each gets a map of Germany with the 16 capitols of the Bundesländer. But each gets the weather information for only 8 of those cities. Each also gets a chart to fill in with the 8 city names. There was a small error in that DĂźsseldorf was listed twice, while Bremen had been left off. Since it is a Word document, you could go in and correct it before printing. I just didn’t notice it in time. We also had a small mistake on my part! I thought the picture for Dresden was windy, but then I realized it was foggy! So we switched them. Focus here was on vocab, speaking, and writing. Here’s a glimpse at Froggy’s work:

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  • Day 4:
    • Matching: Today we did another page from the set “Wie ist das Wetter?” (see above on Day 1). It’s a matching exercise of phrases. For example, “Die Sonne scheint” and “Es ist sonnig.” There is also a small exercise about seasons, where each season is described, and the student writes in the name of the season. Focus on reading and vocab, and also a pre-exercise of circumlocution (the ability to rephrase a word or idea in another way). He added a step by starring the weather that fit today.
  • Day 5:
    • Spieltag! We ended our week with a board game from iSL. All four of us played while enjoying a snack: Froggy, Hippo (although, he wanted to keep landing on the snow!), AP3, and myself. On a long Friday at the end of a long week, playing a game is definitely the way to go. I don’t see how I could have gotten Froggy to do a worksheet or some such. But a game – now that’s fun! It went quickly enough, but we still worked it in. For this board game, I just punched out a few different shapes to be our game pieces and grabbed a die. You roll the die, move forward, and complete the sentence according to the picture. Some of the spaces have arrows that either propel you forward or bring you back. My only complaint was that not every space has something on it – I landed on two of them during the game! Otherwise, we all enjoyed it!

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*I receive no compensation for referencing the resources here. I link them merely for your convenience – and mine!

Weather Plan: Week 1

I try to keep the after-school lessons with Froggy short and sweet. Especially when he has an activity after school, he’s pretty tired when he gets home. I know if the lesson lasts longer than 5 or 10 minutes, I’m going to lose him … fast!

In my last post, I wrote about the great resource created by Open Wide the World that I purchases from her Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) page. I’m starting with these resources to work with Froggy on our weather unit.

In addition, I have downloaded a number of worksheets from iSL Collective (see more about them on my resources page). The only problem with mixing resources is of course that they don’t cover the exact same vocabulary. However, I look at this as an opportunity to expand Froggy’s vocab, as it adds just one or two new words or phrases at a time.

Finally, we’ll end this short week (Monday was a holiday for us) with a game I also purchased from TPT: a weather domino game. ($3) I printed the 5 pages on card stock and laminated them before cutting the domino pieces with a paper cutter.

Here are the lessons we are doing each day:

  • Day 1:
    • Introduce the weather sentence using the poster display page (printed on letter-sized paper) (This isn’t our first time talking about weather, so he’s pretty familiar with the phrases already.)
    • Do the matching worksheet (on p. 25)
  • Day 2:
    • Review weather sentences.
    • Do the fill-in + wordsearch worksheet (on p. 29)
  • Day 3:
  • Day 4:
    • I like to end the week with something fun, like a game. So we played weather dominoes. (See the link above for the resource to purchase.)
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Domino chain


*I receive no compensation for referencing the resources here. I link them merely for your convenience – and mine!

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How’s the Weather?

We’ve taken a break from our reading lessons in German with Froggy, but now that the holidays are behind us, we’re ready to dive back in. I decided to start by asking him if there was a topic he was interested in learning more about. “Space!” he replied, of course. Well, we’ve done an awful lot with that already. So I suggested weather, since he seems to have a strong interest in that topic. His teachers at school talk about the weather and the forecast every day at school. So he readily agreed.

I looked through my files to see what I have on the subject, and happily found a rather nice unit already prepared! It was created by Open Wide the World, and you can get it on the Teachers Pay Teachers site for $6. Click here for a link to the unit.

German Weather - Wetter

German Weather Unit preview by Open Wide the World

Here’s what you get:

  • poster display
  • word wall cards
  • individual weather posters
  • weather wheel
  • flashcards
  • matching worksheet with answer key
  • fill-in-the-blank worksheet with answer key
  • word search with answer key
  • “Aus dem Fenster” mini weather drawing book
  • weather forecast maps and recording sheet

For our first lesson, I’m going to start by introducing the weather sentence using the poster display page (printed on letter-sized paper). Then we’ll do the matching worksheet.

 

Morning Routine

Now that Hippo is going to school, I thought he could use an aid in helping him get ready in the morning. So I created a visual checklist for him and also included instructions in German. As he starts learning to read, those words will become more helpful!

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The routine includes the following four steps:

  • Zieh dich an (get dressed)
  • Wirf deinen Schlafanzug in den Wäschekorb (put your pajamas in the laundry basket)
  • Mach dein Bett (make your bed)
  • Putz dir die Zähne (brush your teeth)

You can download the PDF document here: morning-routine-2016