Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo

I love using songs to teach and learn language.

I also find it rather difficult to teach songs German songs to my English-speaking students. Sometimes, they are actually quite complicated!

So this year in my Pre-K/Kindergarten class, I’m trying to repeat the songs more often. A lot more often. That is a hard thing for me to do! I love a good theme and have usually planned my lessons around a theme: colors, farm animals, numbers, holidays, etc. But by planning my lessons this way, I trap myself into a place where I am constantly introducing new vocabulary, new books, and new songs!

Even at this level, it’s really important to me that the children are getting something out of the class. At the very least, that they learn words that they will understand. Even better is when I hear them saying the words … phrases … sentences! But that will not happen without some repetition.

One of the songs I love to sing is “Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo” by Karsten Glück (from Die 30 Besten Spiel und Bewegungslieder, Vol. 1). I like to use it in week 2, so that we can review the actions in our hello song: klatschen, patschen, und stampfen. I always do “stampfen” last, so that we can stay low to the ground until the end. It helps to keep the little ones more in control of their bodies, too!

So this week (week 3), we’re going to sing it again, but in conjunction with a zoo theme. (More on that soon!)

I put together a visual to introduce the song. It includes an image of a zoo, plus a small (klein) and big (groß) bear. The little bear is sleeping, while the big bear (the Mama bear, I call her) is awake.

Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo mit Bildern-page-004

In this second lesson with the song, I plan to use the image again to add some vocabulary. Something like this, that focuses on the conjugated verb “schlafen” and also adds a yes/no question.

  • Unser kleiner Bär schläft.
  • Mama Bär schläft nicht.
  • Schläft er? Schläft sie?
  • Wer schläft? – Er schläft. Sie schläft nicht.

We’ll see how it goes!

You can download the PDF of the image plus the lyrics here: Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo mit Bildern – GitA

Viel Spaß!

A Trip to the Philadelphia Zoo

Last summer, we finally took the boys to the Philadelphia Zoo. Of course, I had to work in a German lesson!

So I made up word posters for 16 of the animals that can be found there. Hopefully your local zoo has similar animals! There are three sets of cards:

  • pictures with words
  • just pictures
  • just words.

You can print them in full 8½ x11 or print more to a page for smaller versions. I like to print 6-to-a-page, laminate them, and cut them down to 3×4 cards. Then we use them to play memory, go fish, or other games! If you’ll be using them for memory, be sure to print on thick card stock or paper with a patterned back! The animals included are:

  • der Bär – bear
  • der Eisbär – polar bear
  • das Erdmännchen – meerkat
  • die Gazelle – gazelle
  • die Giraffe – giraffe
  • der Gorilla – gorilla
  • das Känguru – kangaroo
  • der Lemur – lemur
  • der Leopard – leopard
  • der Löwe – lion
  • das Nashorn – rhinoceros
  • das Nilpferd – hippopotamus
  • der Orang-Utan – orangutan
  • der Penguin – penguin
  • der Tiger – tiger
  • das Zebra – zebra

Here’s a sample of what they look like:

Download all the posters as a PDF here: Zootiere Posters Phila Zoo GitA

On the day of our outing to the zoo, I gave the boys a scavenger hunt. It looks like this:

Auf der Suche im Zoo GitA-page-002

Included in this PDF document is a worksheet to keep track of the animal name, the color of the animal, and its climate. Download it here: Auf der Suche im Zoo GitA

Viel Spaß im Zoo!

Zoo Animals

Today, I’m taking my zoo theme to Froggy’s school for their lesson.

First, I created some word posters to teach the children some of the animal names.

  • der Bär
  • der Elefant
  • die Giraffe
  • das Känguru
  • der Löwe
  • der Seehund

You can download them here: Zootiere Posters (PDF)

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We will then sing “Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo” from Die 30 besten Sing- und Bewegungslieder. In an effort to keep the kids a little calmer and quieter, we’re going to change the words. Our bear is going to nicken (nod his head), winken (wave), and klatschen (clap). I have to admit, it’s also easier to sing when you don’t have to jump and stomp and dance around!


After that, I’ll read another Eric Carle book, called Komm, fang den Ball! (Gerstenberg, 1999) This book has a flat, circular cut-out that acts as the ball. It’s attached to a string that pulls through the whole book, so that each animal can “throw” the ball to another animal.

Finally, I updated the zoo map I made for story hour to be a coloring page. You can download that, too: Zoo Karte Malvorlage (PDF) Here’s Froggy’s example (he’s more into fast than neat coloring these days 🙂 )

Zoo Karte AMR GitA


German Date #5: Another Zoo Map

Froggy saw Hoppo’s zoo map and wanted to make one of his own. Only he wanted to start from scratch and use paint! I, of course, told him he could … as long as he did it in German 🙂

We taped together two pieces of heavy painting paper, and then Froggy laid out the animals where he wanted them to be in the zoo. He drew paths, lakes, rivers, and boulders. Then he started painting. He got about half of it finished before he’d had enough. Well, the paints were poured, so together we finished it up. Today, on our German date, he finished it up by putting on the stickers. Then I labeled the animals for him. Of course, I asked him to say the animal names as we did the work.

Here is a look at how it all came together:

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Laying out the animals

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Drawing the zoo elements

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The painting phase is complete

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Time to add the stickers!

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The finished product 🙂


Let’s Go to the Zoo!

Okay, we didn’t really go to the zoo. (Although we’re talking about it, and I have a few ideas for including some German on the trip … so stay tuned for that!)

Today in Story Hour, we talked about zoo animals. We read books:

  • Hör mal im Zoo  by Anne Möller (Carlsen, 2012) – The children really enjoyed hearing the animal sounds!
  • Wo ist Mami?  by Axel Scheffler & Julia Donaldson (Beltz & Gelberg, 2016)
  • Von Kopf bis Fuß  by Eric Carle (Gerstenberg, 2011)
  • 1, 2, 3 ein Zug zum Zoo   by Eric Carle (Gerstenberg, 2015)

We sang songs:

  • “Ich bin ein dicker Tanzbär”
  • “Ein Elefant ging ohnt Hetz”
  • “Unser kleiner Bär im Zoo”

Finally, the children each got to plan out their own zoo! I gave them a blank map and some animal stickers. They placed their animals and then colored the map as they chose.

Click here for the PDF map: Zoo Karte PDF

I just bought some stickers and cut them up, so that each child received the same six animals:

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Here’s my example:

Zoo Karte Kate GitA

Here are some samples of the children’s work from story hour:

2016-05-21 02.22.06Zoo Karte KMR GitA


You can also do a larger version of this project using a roll of butcher paper (which you can also get at Ikea). It works best with one-on-one, as opposed to in a group. Cut off a long section and secure it to the floor with painter’s tape. Let your child help decide where the different animals live and where the paths should be. Use multiple stickers of the animals. And once your zoo is complete, add small toy animals. Use small figures to walk through the zoo. Have fun and be creative!