German in the Afternoon

Speaking German with my little boys – bilinguialism one afternoon at a time

Nikolausbücher?? November 22, 2014

Filed under: Christmas — Kate R @ 10:43 am
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Help!!! I’ve got story hour coming up in less than 2 weeks and need a book or two to read about Nikolaus. I thought I had some, but I don’t. I’m having trouble finding anything online – it’s so hard to tell if it’s appropriate without actually holding a book in your hand. Any suggestions?? Even if I can’t get them for this year, at least I could have them ready for next year!

Tausend Dank!! :)

 

Countdown to Christmas & Three “Adventskalender” December 3, 2013

Filed under: Christmas,Craft — Kate R @ 9:31 pm
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I know I’m a little late with this post, but better late than never! This year, we’re counting down the days to Christmas with three different kinds of Advent calendars.

One is a family treasure. My mom made it before I was born – a real heirloom! It’s made of felt and has a tree to decorate. Each day, we take a little felt image out of one of the pockets and pin it to the tree. Aleksander can’t wait to get to the next one! (I know I have a picture somewhere…. when I find it, I’ll post it.)

The second is particularly German. I posted the idea several years ago when I was teaching at a German Saturday school. Not only does it count down the days, but each day, you can learn a new word related to Christmas! (See the instructions below.) I’m also adding another feature. Every day, Aleksander gets a little note in his mailbox (he got a toy one for his birthday a few weeks ago) that has something to do with the word. There is usually some kind of scavenger hunt involved as well. For example, the first words was “die Christbaumkugel” (Christmas ball/ornament), so I hid a little blue one for him to find with the instructions on where to look in the note. It’s one more way to add some German print into our day!

Finally, we are using an idea I read about on someone’s blog last year (wish I could remember which one!). It’s a book a day. I collected all our Christmas books – including Dutch books about Sinterklaas and German books about Nikolaus – and wrapped them in red paper. Then I put a number sticker on each one. Every day before naptime, Aleksander gets to unwrap a “new” book. Although we did add a few new books to the collection, most of them are not new. But he hasn’t seen them in so long, they seem new to him! He loves it and can’t wait to get his next “present.”

I am thinking of making a little booklet/keepsake of our Christmas this year. I’ll include the word of the day along with the little notes, the book titles we read, and any other projects we do. I’m trying to do a project each day with Aleksander – simple things like decorating the tree, making Christmas cards, and baking cookies. Most of these things I would probably do anyway!

Paper Chain German Vocab Advent Calendar:

The kids make a chain with strips of paper (6″ x 1.25″) and tear off one paper link each day. The chain hangs from the main page (cut along the dotted lines at the bottom to attach the first link). I set it up so that there are vocab words on the back of each link, and kids fill in the word that goes with the picture on the main page. To print the words, use 12×12 scrapbooking paper cut in half (to make it 6×12). Then cut the printed papers into 1.25″ strips. I’ve attached both documents you’ll need below. You can also just use colored paper without any words. I hope that all makes sense! Let me know if you have any questions!

Adventskalender

Chain vocabulary


 

Melding Holiday Traditions December 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 8:25 am
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This post is part of December’s Blogging Carnival! It’s being hosted by Tales from Windmill Fields.

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Help!! How do we combine the holiday traditions of Sinterklaas (Dutch), Nikolaus (German), and Santa Claus (American)??? Not to mention the other Christmas traditions of each country, too! Aleksander is still a little young for these things, but it’s about time we figure out how we’re going to celebrate them … and how to explain them all to him! My first task, I think, is to make sure I understand the Dutch and German traditions. So here’s what I’ve learned so far….

Sinterklaas lives in Spain and travels to the Netherlands by boat in mid-November. He brings along his gray horse and a whole lot of helpers, known as Zwarte Pieten (black Peters). Any time after Sinterklaas arrives, the children can put out their shoes at night to be filled with things such as chocolate coins or little presents. (Of course, the parents have to agree on the night – often a weekend – and they only do it once.) All the Pieten have specialties, such as shopping, wrapping, and writing poems. On the evening of December 5th, a Piet rings your doorbell, leaves the presents, and then runs away. Sometimes he leaves a note instead telling where the presents are – maybe in the attic or on the balcony. Poems often accompany the presents.

Later, when the children are much older, they make special presents known as surprises. They tend to be very creative and somewhat elaborate. Sometimes the gifts can even be teasing the recipient. PER once made one for a friend that was a miniature house (since his friend had just moved) and inside the tiny mailbox was a little envelope with a note saying that he was giving his friend a gift of money for his new home. So the house was both a present as well as the package to deliver the gift. The surprise is usually accompanied by a poem written for the recipient.

Nikolaus generally visits German children on the evening of December 5th while the children are sleeping (in some regions it is December 6th). Children leave their shoes or a bowl outside their door (it could also be the bedroom door). When they awake the next morning, they find mandarins, nuts, chocolates, or little surprises left for them in their shoes by Nikolaus. However, Nikolaus is also accompanied by Krampus (southern Germany and Austria) or Knecht Ruprecht (other parts of Germany). If the children have been naughty, he leaves eine Rute (switch) in their shoes instead! Tradition also states that Krampus/Ruprecht would put naughty children in his sack and carry them away. He may even eat them!!

Santa Claus arrives on the eve of December 24th. He lives at the North Pole, where he and his elves make toys in his workshop for the children. Children write letters to Santa Claus, telling him what they would like to receive on Christmas morning. Santa Claus keeps a list of all children, noting which ones have been naughty and which ones have been nice. On Christmas Eve he travels by sleigh with his 8 reindeer and goes down the chimney to leave presents for good children under the tree and in their stockings. If the children have been naughty, they get a piece of coal in their stockings instead.

When I was growing up, we always exchanged family gifts on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning, we would open our presents from Santa Claus. My parents also did an extremely clever thing by putting a small tree in each of our rooms. It was fun to have our own little trees to decorate. But the best part (for my parents) was that Santa would leave a present or two under each of our trees as well. So Christmas morning, when we woke up very early, we could open those presents and play quietly with them in our rooms while our parents got to sleep until a normal hour! Brilliant!!

All three figures have similar appearances: they have a white beard and wear a red coat and hat – - -

Sinterklaas & Zwarte Pieten

Nikolaus

Santa Claus

Okay, so how do we blend these similar – yet different – traditions and explain them in a way that makes sense to our kids??? I mean, how many times are they supposed to leave their shoes out? And just how many presents are they supposed to get?!

I really like the idea of the suprises and the poems that accompany Sinterklaas. So maybe do that on December 5th. Then that night the kids can leave out their shoes to be filled by Nikolaus, waking up on December 6th was a few treats. Then we’ll exchange family gifts on Decemeber 24th and open gifts from Santa Claus on December 25th. That really spreads out the gift-giving! Which is actually not a bad idea, especially while the children are young. I know Aleksander can’t take too many presents at once – he doesn’t know what to do with them all! After his birthday party last month, I put at least half the toys in the closet to take out at later times, so they’re like “new” all over again.

The next challenge is dealing with all the feasting and other traditions that go with the various regional holidays. But I think that will have to wait for another post….

I know different regions have different takes on Sinterklaas/Nikolaus/Santa Claus. And the traditions even vary from family to family. But if I’ve gotten anything wrong or forgotten about something, please let me know! I’d love to hear about other traditions, too!

And if anyone has any suggestions on ways to fluidly blend various holiday traditions, I’d be grateful for some advice!!

 

Adventskalender December 1, 2010

Filed under: Christmas,Craft — Kate R @ 10:11 pm
Tags: ,

I just love the holiday season! Our stockings are hanging from the mantle, and my cherished German decorations are out – a Raucher (smoker), Nussknacker (nutcracker), and Pyramid. And of course today – December 1st – I put out my precious advent calendar. My mother made it out of felt when I was just a little girl. In fact, I can’t remember a Christmas when it wasn’t hanging on the wall.

Aleksander is still much too young to appreciate all of these special decorations. And I can’t believe it, but I’m not even sure if we’ll put up a Christmas tree this year! I just don’t think Aleksander could resist the temptation of it! I’m thinking of putting out a little tree on a table instead and maybe hanging some boughs between the posts that separate our living and dining rooms. Then at least I can also hang some of my favorite ornaments.

I also just finished creating an advent calendar craft project. No, it isn’t for Aleksander, of course! It’s for my school students. But I thought I’d share it here.

The kids make a chain with strips of paper (6″ x 1.25″) and tear off one paper link each day. The chain hangs from the main page (cut along the dotted lines at the bottom to attach the first link). I set it up so that there are vocab words on the back of each link, and kids fill in the word that goes with the picture on the main page. To print the words, use 12×12 scrapbooking paper cut in half (to make it 6×12), then cut into 1.25″ strips. I’ve attached both documents you’ll need below. You can also just use colored paper without any words. I hope that all makes sense! Let me know if you have any questions!

Adventskalender

Chain vocabulary

(I just found a mistake in the chain vocab. It’s been corrected and updated as of 12/4. But if you printed before, note the article for Zuckerstange is “die”. Entschuldigung!)


 

Hang up the calendar!

 

 
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