Pre-k / Kindergarten Nutcracker Art Project
A few cracking-good facts:
This week is all about nutcrackers! I began today by telling my youngest students a little about nutcrackers. I also brought in a small nutcracker to show them. Of course, many of the children were excited to see something that they, too, had in their homes!
- Nutcrackers have been around for 600 years.
- Nutcrackers are traditionally made of wood in Germany.
- Nutcrackers represent luck, strength, and protection.
- German author E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote a fairy tale about a nutcracker that comes to life in 1816.
- Russian composer Tchaikovsky based his famous ballet on Hoffmann’s story.
(You can read these and other facts in the various “Steckbriefe” I created for my elementary & middle school students in this post.)
Crack open a story book!
Then I read the children a short story book of The Nutcracker. I was excited to see that it was attributed to Hoffmann, as that is the version I want to focus on. I am, after all, teaching German! However, I was surprised to find that this version calls the little girl Clara. In Hoffmann’s story, the girl is named Marie, while her beloved doll is named Clara. So as I read the book, I called her Marie. I added some details from the story as I read, too.
Let’s get crafting!
For my youngest students, we actually did not do a craft. Instead, I prepared a Nutcracker coloring project for them. I got the idea from another site, but of course I wanted to make it German! So I started drawing the outline of a nutcracker. It helped when I realized I could fold my paper in half and trace the right side of it, so that it turned out symmetrical! Then I scanned it and started adding shapes. Here’s how it turned out:
I have to say, I’m really quite pleased with how it turned out! You can download the PDF for free here:
The children enjoyed the project!
Stay tuned for projects from the 1st & 2nd graders, 3rd & 4th graders, and 5th & 6th graders!
I have posted before about making simple Jack-O-Lanterns out of orange paper plates. We made them in the Lesestunde.
In pre-k/kindergarten last year, I came up with a similar activity to practice shapes and a few parts of the body: eyes, nose, mouth.
I used my trusty orange paper plates (from Target) and punched a bunch of shapes out of black paper: circles, squares, and triangles. We talked about the shapes in class.
We also sang “Kopf, Schulter, Knie und Fuß” to practice the words Augen, Nase & Mund. You can find the lyrics over at Mama Lisa’s World.
Then I showed them the worksheet. They had to choose a different shape for each part of the face. Then look at the sheet to see how many of each shape they needed.
They could place the shapes on the worksheet first. Then they glued them to the orange plates to make their Kürbislaternen.
On the back of the worksheet, I also printed a coloring page:
You can download the worksheet and the coloring page for FREE here: Meine Kürbislaterne mit Formen GitA. The PDF file includes instructions.
Froggy is really into dominoes these days. So I gave him the challenge of creating domino runs in different shapes.
He decided to take it a step further and connect the shapes.
Do you see them? Quadrat, Oval, und Dreieck!
I saw a few different play dough mats for creating shapes on Pinterest. But of course, they were all in English. So I decided to create some in German.
Print them out and laminate them. Then break out the play dough and create some shapes! Just fit them into the shape on the mat.
Download the PDF file here: Formen Play dough Mats GitA
Hippo had fun with the mats after lunch today!
Hippo loves building train tracks with AP3. So that’s where they started with their shape-themed activities. It was a simple activity, but sometimes those are best! How many shapes could they make?
- der Kreis
- das Quadrat
- das Siebeneck (I think they were going for 6 or 8 sides but they ended up with 7)
- das Oval
For our shape unit, we’ll be using some materials I bought a few years ago on TeachersPayTeachers.com. It was created by Open Wide the World, who has a number of German-language units. In fact, the weather unit I used last month was also created by them.
The unit costs only $3.50, and you can purchase it here. And here’s what you get:
a single page display featuring all 10 shapes
10 individual posters, one shape & shape name per page
“Bang!” game cards & directions
3 sets of flashcards for games & drill work: 1 set with shapes and shape names, 1 set with shape images only, 1 set with shape names only
2 mini books
1/4-page sized mini book: trace the shape name and draw the shape
1/2-page sized mini book: fill in the blank with the shape name, color the image, and read aloud with a partner (level = emergent reading, repetitive sentence structure)
includes answer key
I’m excited to start using all these colorful materials!
Our next language unit is going to be all about shapes! Froggy chose the topic. I don’t know how many times we’ve done shape themes in the past 4 years, but it’s still a favorite!
I started doing language themes when Froggy was 3 and Hippo was just a baby. Every morning, while Hippo napped, Froggy and I would do a project. Having this structure in his day really helped. And we both had so much fun! We did art projects, science projects, themed baths, books, songs – you name it, if it went with our theme, we tried it! That’s when I started collecting ideas on Pinterest boards, too! (Click on my Pinterest button on the right to check out all my daily activity boards!)
Now we are using these themes to help our German. I was off to a good start with Froggy’s weather lessons. And now I really want to get Hippo more involved. So I’ve asked AP3 to help out and try to come up with activities to do with him, while I focus more on Froggy’s lessons.
Since we are still in Valentine mode, our first activity was a baking one. We simply made a cake heart! I saw the idea on Pinterest, of course. It was super simple! Froggy helped me make the batter. Then after the cakes cooled, we put them together to make our heart and covered it with pink frosting. I wanted a little chocolate, and I knew Froggy would choose yellow cake with white (or pink) icing, so I added some chocolate chips to one of the cakes.
You bake one 8-inch square cake and one 8-inch round cake (or use 9-inch pans for both). After they cool, place the square cake at an angle, like a diamond. Then cut your round cake in half, and place each semi-circle at the top of the diamond shape. Voila! You now have a heart-shaped cake! I had to cut off the tops of the cakes to get them to be the same height. And I needed a pretty big plate to put it on. Since I didn’t have a plate big enough, I used a cutting board. The boys loved it!
Froggy has always loved shapes. And sorting. And sorting shapes. Now that he is 7, he has added another interest: writing in cursive. He’s trying to teach himself, since they are not yet teaching cursive at school.
I love it when he takes the initiative to start a project. Especially when that project is in German!
The other night, when I was putting him to bed, he asked if we could work a little more on his latest project. He had grabbed a book off the shelf: Duden’s Kennst du das? Die Formen (2009).
He was making a list of the shapes to sort them (and color-coding them, too, of course!).
Some of the words are in cursive, some not. Some are not even spelled correctly. Some he wrote, some I wrote. But it’s all good! I was just tickled pink that he was doing something in German by his own choice!
It’s that time of year! The leaves are turning fiery colors. The air is getting crisp. And it’s time to visit the pumpkin patch! We started the tradition 3 years ago. Our local patch is only about 10 minutes from our house. We can go on a hay ride or pull a Radio Flyer wagon out to the pumpkins. The boys always enjoy being pulled out to the pumpkin patch in the wagon.
We got some small pumpkins this year in addition to the bigger ones we would carve. So Hippo and I got out the paints and started decorating. We used circle-shaped sponge brushes in different sizes to start applying paint. Perfect opportunity to talk about shapes! Hippo started out by making a pattern. I was so impressed! But then he just couldn’t stop himself. So it turned into a lovely blue-green pumpkin. That’s okay, though. It’s the boys’ favorite color!
So our little activity allowed us to talk about fall, pumpkins, shapes, and colors.