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!


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

Summer Experiment: No English Books

Before school ended, I came across a post on Multilingual Living (a great resource for multilingual families, if you’re not familiar with it!). The contributor wrote about her summer experiment: NO ENGLISH BOOKS! Well, at least for the summer. She packed them up and stored them in the guest room, so her kids had only German books to read all summer long.

Now, her boys are older than mine – 9 and 7 compared to mine at 6 and 3. My older son is a good reader in English, though, and my little one loves to be read to. So I decided to try out her experiment.

I thought my kids would revolt when all the English books disappeared on the last day of school! Well, they didn’t entirely disappear…. They were packed up in boxes, but the boxes never made it out of the hall where we have our bookcases, between the boys’ rooms:

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Without the English books, the shelves look a little bare! And you can see, the boxes have been reopened as summer winds down.

I even took it one step further and packed up the English DVDs. Alas, I couldn’t pack up YouTube and all the marble run videos my kids like to watch! In the car, we had only German music and stories.

So how did it go??

Well, we made it through the whole summer … almost. I finally gave in with just over a week to go before school starts. But the boys went along with my experiment!

I’m not sure that I saw an improvement in their German. But then, we didn’t work much on actually speaking German this summer. Tja. We’re still working on it! Still, I’m pleased with all the exposure they got.

We also kept the Dutch books out, so my husband had something to read at bedtime. The only trick was what to do when we had a babysitter or my mom putting the boys to bed, since they only speak English! I think my mom managed Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) in German, since she’s heard it so many times! And Hippo helped her  🙂

I think the most successful part of the experiment for us was listening to German in the car. I have a CD of Eric Carle stories. They are not too long, about 7 minutes each. It was by far the most requested playlist in the car all summer!

Eric Carle CD

We also have a CD called Nimmersatt Singspiel by Viktor Christen, but I can’t find it anywhere online now. Froggy loved singing along with the somewhat quirky musical adaptation of the story!

Now that school is about to start, I have started opening up the boxes of English books. Froggy was so happy to have his Kids First Big Book of Space back 🙂

However, we also made a deal. My husband and I take turns putting the boys to bed (and then our au pair gets one night a week while we go out on a date night!), so I have 3 bedtimes each week. And we agreed that one of those nights would be a German night. So the experiment continues….

A Few Summer Tools

What a whirlwind it’s been since school ended! Just the week before the last day, Froggy broke his arm! He’s been amazing, actually. After the initial pain wore off, he was such a trooper! And he’s hardly complained a bit about being in a full arm cast. Luckily, it only hast to be on for 3 weeks. Then hopefully we’ll move on to something a little easier….

In the meantime, that meant no swim lessons! And I decided not to sign him up for any camps, since I didn’t want him overdoing it. What to do instead?!

Well, I made up a kind of guide for our week. There are a few things to be checked off each day. And then I made three more lists: things to do at home/inside, outdoor activities, and outings. I posted those on our cork board in the kitchen. No excuses for being bored around here! (Before I wrote them out, I went over them with Froggy to see if there was anything he absolutely was not interested in.)

Beneath the lists is our Wochenplan. In addition to that, I made up a reading log, so he can keep track of what he reads each day, for how long, and who does the reading (in prep for 1st grade, the teachers asked the children to read 10 minutes per day, but it didn’t matter if the child read or was read to).

If you’d like to use these two plans as a template, you can download them here:

Wochenplan blank (Word document)

Was lese ich in der Woche blank (Word document)

You may notice that the books on the list are either in German or Dutch! We are trying an experiment I read about on someone’s blog: no English books for the summer!!! By the last day of school, I had packed up all the English books. There has been a bit of grumbling from Froggy, but he’s going along with it. Hippo doesn’t seem to mind at all. The only exception is that I left out a few books about Germany and the Netherlands, since we’ll be heading over there for two weeks this summer. So far, we are seeing improvement in Froggy’s reading and pronunciation!

Any questions or ideas to add? I’d love to read your comments!

German Date #6: Space Book

Our schedule was a bit thrown off this week, since Froggy was home from school for Memorial Day on Monday. So AP2 took Froggy on a German date today. We still have plenty of space materials, so that was once again the focus.

This time, they started off by reading some pages from a space book. It’s called Weltraum. Sterne und Planeten, and it’s from the series “memo Kids” (Dorling Kindersley, 2014).

It’s a little bit advance, but it’s broken down into simple topics. Each topic spans two pages and offers several short paragraphs about that topic. Here’s an example:

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AP2 had to help with some of the reading, but I understand it went very well! She was able to explain the words he didn’t know in German.

On a personal note, I heard that Froggy has been telling my mom that our house is special, because we don’t just speak English – we speak German, too. How big of a smiley face can I make here?! 🙂


Another Reading Trick

As I said in my last post, I’m always looking for ways to put German in front of Froggy, so his reading skills don’t fall too far behind his English reading.

Another trick I use daily is to write a note for his lunchbox in German. I always put the date at the top. Ideally, I would have some topic that we’re working on (but I haven’t done that in a while), and the notes would use vocabulary from that same topic. Mostly, my notes have something to do with what is going on at school, the weather, or something he might be looking forward to. Here are a couple of examples:

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  • “Mittwoch, der 10. Februar – Lieber Froggy, wir sehen Schnee weit und breit! Bis bald! – Deine, Mama”
  • “Mittwoch, der 17. Februar – Lieber Froggy, spielst du heite draußen? Viel Spaß! – Deine, Mama”



His teachers say the notes have been working great this year. He not only reads them but often shares them with his friends. A couple of months ago, the school counselor had a number of special lunches with the kindergartners to talk about friendship, and she also said that Froggy would read and translate the notes for the group 🙂  At least for now, German is cool enough to share with friends!