German in the Afternoon

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

One Month In … Wait till you hear! June 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 5:06 pm
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Well, here it is, the beginning of June. Lisa has been here almost a month now. When I wrote about my language plans for after her arrival, everything was so unknown! When I (rather casually) posed the question of insisting on German from Aleksander, I didn’t expect to get such a strong reaction from at least one reader :)  I really appreciate the feedback, though, because it made me really think about things. So here’s how it’s all going….

First of all, Lisa is just perfect! She is so sweet and wonderful with the boys. She is patient and open and flexible. She is also very observant: I notice her picking up on things without me having to say anything at all. I really enjoy having her here, too. We respect each other’s privacy and private time but also enjoying talking and spending some time together. I really can’t imagine anyone better!

On the language front, we took things slowly in the first few days. I had been preparing Aleksander for her arrival for months and also was letting him know that German would be making a reappearance in our home. Lisa arrived on a Friday, and so I told him that starting Monday, we’d go back to our format of German in the mornings (until naptime at 2) and English in the afternoons. I had thought that Lisa would simply speak German all the time with the boys, but that didn’t really happen. I think we spoke a mixture of the languages over the weekend. And then on that Monday, we started with German in the morning, and Lisa followed suit, switching ton English in the afternoon. At first I wasn’t sure about it. But now, it feels really good! Oh, and absolutely no insisting that Aleksander speak German from myself or Lisa :)

Aleksander resisted in the beginning  -  not at all unexpected. But we persisted ;)

Then about two-and-a-half weeks later, we had a houseful of guests. My in-laws along with PER’s aunt arrived for a 10-day visit. At the same time, my parents also visited for a week (They were sent to a hotel, as our “inn” was full up! As it was, Kearnan slept in my office, so PER’s aunt could have his room!). As usual, when we have guests, I have a hard time sticking to German. With all the extra hands, Lisa also had a lot more down-time, which made it even more challenging to be consistent with German. So we just went with the flow.

As of this past Monday, our guests were gone, and we got right back in to German. Lisa has been great about it. I still forget sometimes :)  Now – just two days later – some extraordinary things are happening!!!

Aleksander came in to Kearnan’s room this morning as I was getting him dressed and announced that he could read some stories in German! (He started asking for a German story or two in the days before.) So he sat down and started reading his German story. It wasn’t perfect. But he got very far in to it! He tried to figure out some of the words he didn’t know.  And he asked for help with the harder words he didn’t recognize. I couldn’t believe it!! He’s been reading in English for almost a year now and is astoundingly good at it. But with so little German input in the past year, I figured it would be quite a while before we could expect any significant reading in German, too. Nope. There he was, reading along. I don’t know how much he actually understands. He has the same story in English, so he knows what it’s about. Maybe that helps? I don’t know. Heck, even if he doesn’t understand any of it, I’m just so thrilled that he actually WANTS to read German!!!

I went out later in the morning, and when I got back, Lisa had even more good news for me. Up until now, Aleksander would occasionally start to say a German word, catch himself, and switch back to English. But now, he is also speaking some German to her! They were reading a German book we got from the library (I’ll talk more about that in a moment) called “Das kleine ich bin ich” by Mira Lobe, and he started repeating the “ich bin ich” and naming some of the animals in the book. Also, at lunch, when Lisa declared “Ich bin satt! ["I'm full"], he asked what “satt” means. Lisa told him, and then he too declared “Ich bin satt!

WOW!!!!!

I never expected to see so much progress in such a short time, especially with the long break while we had visitors. I’m so excited!! And so proud of him :)

Oh, and Kearnan may not be speaking yet, but he is also being impressed by German. He definitely understands some of the books we read and transfers the words to other experiences. He isn’t saying whole words, but he signs and says the beginning sounds. Today, he finally said “Haaaa” for “Hase” ["bunny"] instead of “buuuuuh”! I can’t imagine what kind of an impact this year is going to have on his language development!

My German is doing pretty well, too, by the way :)  I definitely have trouble and make mistakes, but I can already feel it coming a little more readily than it had been.

Ah yes, and we also finally visited the German story hour! Remember the one I started a few years ago? Well, one of the other moms – who happens to be both German and a school teacher – took up the reigns and has really run away with it! It’s so popular, the little room is crowded every week! And she does and AMAZING job with it! It’s everything I had wanted it to be :)  We’ll go again on Friday. And then there is one more meeting before the summer break. Unfortunately, since Aleksander will be in school in the fall, he won’t be able to attend. But Kearnan can! It’s all so exciting!!

Welcome back, German!!

 

Finding Inspiration July 9, 2012

Yesterday I was finally getting back into a German groove with Aleksander. As I searched my brain for a song to sing to him as I put him down for his nap, I was horrified to find I could hardly think of a single German song! What?! What happened to all the fabulous songs I’d added to my repertoire??? They seemed to have vanished. Uh oh. I’ve really done it now. I knew it had been too long since I’d spoken German regularly with Aleksander, but this was a big wake-up call.

I’ve also had something of a revelation about myself recently. I get so excited about new ideas and throw myself completely into them. After the initial excitement begins to fade, so does my commitment to following through with them. Examples you may have read about? How about the Multilingual Living Language Challengethemed language learning … even running the German story hour at our local library. And these are just the few that are related to language. [sigh] In an attempt to reduce self-judgment (thanks in large part to my meditation class – to which I have similar commitment issues), I’m trying not to feel guilty about my lack of dedication but rather accept where I am and even have some compassion for myself. [ahhhh] So what I realize is that this pattern does not have to be a bad thing. I love the enthusiasm I feel when a new idea strikes. And even if the intensity of it doesn’t stick, it doesn’t mean I have to give up on the idea completely (which I am liable to do if I let the guilt take over). As Aleksander says throughout the day when he doesn’t get something right: “TRY AGAIN!” I love that :) Not only is it amazing that he knows that (at least most of the time), but he reminds me of it, too! I can pick up right where I am and start again from there.

Besides, you never know where one idea is going to lead. Although I am taking a long hiatus from running the German story hour at our library, something very exciting has happened because of the work I began. Several parents showed up looking for the story hour a few weeks ago, and when they discovered there was no story hour to attend, the librarian offered to let them stay and use the reading room for the kids to play. As a result, the library is offering a weekly time for a German playdate!!! I’m so thrilled to hear of this wonderful development! Although I haven’t been able to attend it yet (I plan to this Friday), I am still keeping a small hand in it by managing an email list and sending out reminders each week.

So, back to my wake-up call. At first Aleksander was rejecting my occasional attempts to speak German with him, but as I persisted he came around. And I’m pleased to say my idea of German-only DVDs is working out pretty well. His current favorites are Bob der Baumeister (Bob the Builder) and Kleiner roter Traktor (Little Red Tractor) – both British shows that we watch in German.

And otherwise, all I can do is continue to try – and try again!

 

Small Steps Forward May 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 9:35 pm
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How many times have I written about my frustrations with my inability to continue speaking German with Aleksander when others are around? Well, I think I may have had a breakthrough! In large part, I have Aleksander to thank for it. Since he’s become more aware of these two languages and the schedule of speaking German before his nap and English afterward, he lets me know immediately when I slip and speak the wrong language. So my little language policeman keeps me line and makes sure I am speaking German when I’m supposed to!

My parents recently came to visit for a whole week. And I managed to speak an awful lot of German to Aleksander! As if that wasn’t great enough, because of all the repetition of words (both from me and from Aleksander), my mom was able to pick up some basic vocabulary. She’s understanding more and more and starting to say a few words, too. I’m not sure how much she’ll be able to speak though. Not for her own lack of interest, but rather Aleksander was NOT happy with his Dearie speaking German! No, no. Mama speaks German – not Daddy (despite the fact that he can), and certainly not Dearie. This simply is not right! He reacts the same way when I try to speak Dutch (not that I really can, but I do know my numbers up to 10!). No, Mama is not allowed to speak Dutch – just Daddy. I find it fascinating that he is so aware of the differences between the languages and who speaks which one.

It seems to me that Aleksander is also speaking more German. He speaks more when it’s just the two of us. It seems that when there are other English-speakers around, it interferes with his German. But when we’re alone, he’s more consistent. He does still mix English and German sometimes. So far, I still just repeat what he’s saying in German. And he’s starting to then repeat the German.

One of his favorite things these days is the stop sign. When we’re in the car, he points out every single stop sign we pass: “Noch ein Stopschild!” he calls out [another stop sign!]. I have to admit it gets a little tedious (who knew there were soooooo many stop signs around?!), but he is so excited that his enthusiasm is contagious, and I find myself echoing him :)

Things have not been going too well at our German story time lately. Aleksander simply does not like it when Mama reads aloud to the group. He is so disruptive. He keeps repeating, “nein, nein, nein” [no, no, no] and tries to close the book. I thought that maybe if someone came with us it might help. So last time my mom came along, but nothing changed. So if he won’t sit with his Dearie, I can’t imagine he’d sit with a babysitter. My mom ended up taking him out of the room for the whole session. I just haven’t been able to figure out how to be both teacher and mother at the same time. So I think our next session will be our last. I’m disappointed, of course. But if Aleksander isn’t getting any benefit from it, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps we’ll try again when he’s a little bit older….

In the meantime, Anika and I have finally found the time to start our German playdates!! After we get back from our trip to the Netherlands, we’re going to start getting the boys together weekly. I’m working on a plan to have about 20-30 minutes of structure at the beginning – a song or two, a book, an activity. It’s actually a lot like what I was preparing for the story time. And it has a lot in common with the idea of creating targeted language themes. I’m really excited about these playdates. I think it’s going to be hugely beneficial to Aleksander. And I plan to bring a notebook to write down things I learn from Anika!

 

Focused Language Learning at Home April 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 12:13 pm
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Bonne Mama just posted a fantastic idea on her blog (Our Non-Native Bilingual Adventure) about creating themes for focusing on language learning with her toddler and baby. I’m so excited about it, I can’t stop thinking about it! It has a lot in common with what I’m already doing with my German story time, but at home with Aleksander I could expand upon it even more. The idea is to pick a topic such as farm animals, weather, holidays, etc. and look for resources and materials to use with our children to enhance their language learning. It doesn’t have to be terribly complicated (although knowing myself, I probably will spend way too much time researching and looking for materials!) – you can just use things you already have such as books, songs, food, etc.

I have to admit I have completely let go of my ambitions to follow Multilingual Livings Language Challenge. I still check out some of the posts occasionally, but I just couldn’t commit to it. (I think I have a pretty good reason, but that will have to wait for another post….) But this idea from Bonne Mama has me so excited, I want to start working on it right away! It’s just the kind of thing I love to do, so I figure this can be my new focus for the language challenge.

I thought I’d begin here by sharing the basic ideas of themes and categories I might want to focus on. Most of the themes come from books and songs we already have at home. I’ve already been collecting them in a spreadsheet for my story time, so it’s easy enough just to expand it. I have to thank Bonne Mama for some of these ideas, too! Some of the themes easily overlap, but I think that can be a good thing for reinforcement. Also note, my spreadsheet is in German, and in that list the themes are alphabetized – doesn’t quite translate here!

THEMES:

  • alphabet
  • outings / travel
  • bathtime
  • on the farm
  • by day and night (I really wanted to focus on lullabies here, so I did books/songs about waking up & going to sleep)
  • jungle
  • Eric Carle
  • food
  • vehicles
  • colors
  • airplane
  • shapes
  • friends
  • at home
  • helping hands (this comes from books where the themes is helping each other)
  • insects
  • body parts
  • nature
  • playground
  • in town / in the city
  • days of the week
  • animals
  • birds
  • water
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • at the zoo
  • trains
  • Valentines’ Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s & Father’s Day
  • Halloween
  • Martinstag (St Martin’s Day)
  • Nikolaus
  • Weihnacht
  • seasons
  • winter / snow
  • spring
  • weather

MATERIALS:

  • books
  • songs
  • fingerplays & knee bouncers
  • games, puzzles, toys
  • crafts
  • coloring pages
  • nursery rhymes
  • food, recipes
  • YouTube, DVDs, audio books
  • pictures & photos
  • field trips

I don’t exactly when I’ll get this going. I’m still collecting ideas and materials. As soon as I’m ready to go, I’ll post the first theme here, so you can follow along. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!!

 

Sweet Language Moments April 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 8:52 pm
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We just put Aleksander to bed. After a shower with Daddy (his new favorite thing instead of a bath), PER and I got him in his pajamas. Usually I read him a book and then say goodnight, and PER brushes his teeth and finishes the bedtime routine. But tonight, Aleksander wanted Daddy to read to him first.

Okay, the sight of Aleksander curled up with his Daddy is already enough to melt my heart :) But then Aleksander chose a Dutch book:Bobbi wort grote broer [Bobbi Becomes a Big Brother].

I love the Bobbi series – even though I can’t actually read it. They’re such sweet children’s books with wonderful drawings of a bear named Bobbi.

What really got me, though, was that Aleksander loves this book! I wonder how much Dutch he understands at this point? I know PER has been reading this book to him lately. And I can’t imagine a child would choose to sit through a book he can’t understand. Right? Then, I realized PER was leaving off the last word of each verse (the books is written in rhyme). And Aleksander was doing a pretty good job of filling in the missing word! Now, of course, we do this with him in English and German, but I was so surprised to hear him doing it in Dutch!! There were a few hard/long words he didn’t get. But most of the words sounded pretty close – to my ears, at least. Amazing! I sat there watching it with a big, goofy grin on my face :D

As for German, Aleksander is doing quite well. I just wish I could get him into more German-speaking situations and environments. He continues to be my little language police, letting me know that he knows it’s German time in the morning and English time after his nap. And he catches me every single time I slip into the wrong language! Sometimes he even seems annoyed when I speak English to PER during lunch!

When the two of us are alone, I notice him speaking some more German, too. He still mixes the languages a bit, though. Today he went running through the kitchen, giving his usual commentary. “Are you running?” he asked (as if I were supposed to be asking him the questions). So I translated, “Läufst du?” Then I heard him say, “Are you läufst du?”

Last week, our playgroup met at the park, so the boys could play on the slides and swings. But this time, Anika’s mom was visiting from Germany. She doesn’t really speak any English, so Aleksander heard a lot more German being spoken. The result was that he spoke a lot more German, too! Frau Kiehne was highly impressed, in fact, by the things he said – and so was I! When he first went down the slide, he went so slowly that I asked him, “Bist du eine Schnecke?” [Are you a snail?] Later on he repeated the same thing as Frau Kiehne watched him go down the slide. Then as she was about to catch Logan and said, “Ich fange dich” [I'll catch you], Aleksander followed and asked, “Du mich auch?” [me, too?]. I didn’t hear that one myself. I actually find it rather hard to believe! It sounds somehow very advanced to me – but maybe that’s the non-native speaker in me??? Ah well – the main thing is that he was speaking a lot more German!! And it continued as we drove home and then had lunch. I’ve been after Anika to start a German playgroup, but she’s been so busy teaching. Now that the semester is over, I’m going to have to start pushing again! I think it makes such a big difference!

On the other hand, my German story hour isn’t going as well. Attendance has been low these past couple of months, and I’m not quite sure why. Also, Aleksander is getting rather unruly. He’s starting to interrupt more and sometimes does not want me even reading a book. It’s very disruptive – not to mention embarrassing. He never behaves that way at music class, but then my full attention is on him, and I’m not trying to do the teaching. I’m thinking of having a babysitter come with me to see if that helps. My mom will be here for our next session, so she’ll come with us, and we’ll see how that goes. Otherwise, I’m not quite sure what to do….

I’m hoping the third time is a charm for finding a German-speaking babysitter! I have an interview in a couple of weeks with a college student who will be home for the summer. She grew up bilingually in the US. I’m curious to know more about that, too! I just hope it works out this time. It would be great to have someone else around who speaks German with Aleksander. Great for my German, too! Even if it is only for the summer.

One final German story…. Aleksander has discovered the stop sign. We live at the end of a long street and have been taking walks to the end and back – or to the stop sign. So now he points them out every time he sees one. Let me tell you, I had no idea there were so many stop signs around! In the mornings when are driving around (and speaking German), he calls out, “Noch ein Stoppschild!” [Another stop sign!] It’s awfully sweet :)

 

Three Months of Language Explosion! March 4, 2012

It is hard for me to believe that Aleksander has only been talking for about 3 months now. Ever since he started building his spoken vocabulary at the beginning of December, his progress has truly exploded! He has such a big vocabulary, I couldn’t begin to count the number of words he says. He generally uses about 3 words together at a time, but I’ve heard him say full sentences, too!

Since he started talking, I’ve become even more aware of how much German we’re speaking (or should be!). For one thing, he’s like the town crier announcing what language I speak! I greet him every morning in German (since we spend the mornings until his naptime in German – or at least that’s the goal), and he announces: “German!” He’s finally started to say it in German now, too: “Deutsch!” And if I should happen to falter and lapse into English (okay, this happens on a regular basis!), he immediately lets me know it: “English!!” So I clap my hand over my mouth and then switch right back into German :) It gets tricky when a non-German speaker is around, such as his babysitter. He seems to be getting the idea that Sam speaks English. He’ll say: “Sam – English. Mama – German/Deutsch.” Since the word for English in German is very close [Englisch], I still can’t tell what language he’s saying it in!

For a while, Aleksander was really pushing for English when I would speak German with him. “English … English … English,” he’d cry. I gently explained to him (again) that this was our German time, and Mama was going to speak German (in German, of course). More and more, though, he’s really catching on. Before I know it, he’s speaking German back to me. I still don’t insist on it. I try to repeat the things he says in English back to him in German. And sometimes I’ll ask him, “Kannst Du das sagen?” [Can you say that?]. He then repeats the German word. I’ve even started playing a little bit with asking him, “Wie, bitte?” [what?] when he says something in English. He usually responds with the German word!

What still shocks the heck out of me is to hear how often he self-corrects! He’ll say something in English and then immediately say it again in German. Amazing!!! Sometimes it sounds like an actual phrase, because he says the two words so quickly. One example happened at breakfast the other day. He often comments on how big (or small ) of a bite he’s taking (probably my doing, since I told him so often that he was taking too big a bite!): “little klein,” he said.

Occasionally I hear Aleksander mixing the two languages. For example, “very groß” [big]. But generally, he manages to keep the two languages separate.

I love breakfast and lunchtime with him. It’s a great time to practice and hear him speaking German. My favorite thing is when he asks, “Mehr Milch, bitte?” [more milk please?] Yes, he usually adds the “please” now, too, without being prompted!!

We’ve started watching a new DVD in the past month or so. I ordered it from Amazon.de before we went to the Netherlands last December. It’s called Singen und Bewegen by Detlev Jöcker. Lots of silly songs for him and his six little friends to dance to. Aleksander LOVES it. He asks for it all the time: “tanzen?” [dance]. The funny thing is, he does not get up and dance with Detlev and the kids – not even when I do it! He sits in his little chair and drinks it all in, just watching and listening. I don’t mind so much, since he’s getting German input. And I even get to cheat a little bit, since he often asks for the DVD in the afternoon – bonus German time!! The only downside is that those darned songs get so stuck in my head, they play over and over and over as I try to go to sleep at night!

I have to admit that my favorite thing Aleksander says these days is actually in English. “That’s … so fuh—neee!” It really is so funny when he says it! :) I must get out the video camera and capture some of these adorable little language nuggets!

*  *  *

On another note, I’ve been doing some more cooking recently. Only thing is, the recipes didn’t turn out so well :( So I’ll post about them when I try them again….

The Language 180 Challenge at Multilingual Living started on March 1st. So far, they’ve asked participants to fill out two short questionnaires and post about resources on their comment page. It’s gotten me inspired, though! In fact, I finally organized and posted my own page of resources here. I also finally printed out the language guide from Alphabet Garten on Parenting auf Deutsch (you can get it for free by signing up for their newsletter). It’s filled with lots of useful phrases that a non-native speaker such as myself just doesn’t know! So now I have to start studying :)

Have I mentioned lately that my German Story Time is going really well??? Well, it is!! We usually have about 5 families each week. Some repeats, and some new families. The room in the library is quite small, so it really is just the right size. We meet every other Friday now, so I have time to plan everything. For each session, I pick a theme and then find books, songs, etc. to share with the kids. Sometimes it’s challenging, especially if I’m not very familiar with a book or song. But everyone seems to enjoy it, and they keep coming back! I’d say we have about 5 or 6 families who attend on a semi-regular basis. If you want to see what we’re reading, singing, and crafting, you can hop over to the blog: germanstorytime.wordpress.com. It’s been great for my learning, too. I know a lot more songs than I did a few months ago! It’s also a nice way for me to talk to other German-speakers. Not to mention a great opportunity to create a place for Aleksander to hear more German!

 

So many little successes! November 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 10:20 am
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I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post! Where has the time gone?? So here’s the update!

Aleksaner is progressing slowly with his language. He’s up to about 10 words by now. But here’s the good news…. he has two words in German! On Sunday we had his birthday party (yes, he’s two years old!!) and the theme was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since then he’s been saying Raupe (“caterpillar”) constantly! It sounds more like “owwbaaaah” :)

Then just yesterday, I asked him to say bitte (“please”) when he asked me to get him something. He usually signs it, but this time he signed and said bitte, bitte!! It was clear as a bell. I was so excited! He repeated it about 1,000 times as he was going down for his nap  -  bittebittebittebittebittebittebittebitte….. He may have said it a few too many times, though…  You know when you say a word too many times and it starts to sound funny? Well, I wonder if that’s what’s happened to him! He’s still saying bitte, but it’s not so clear. Ah well, he’ll get there!

I finally decided to schedule the speech evaluation. I met with the coordinator from our county last week. But we couldn’t schedule the evaluation until mid-December. So we’ll see….

The reason it’s taking so long is that we’ll be in the Netherlands! I can’t believe we’re going so soon! I finally started making my packing lists and looking for tips about traveling overseas with a toddler. Any advice?? I’m mostly concerned about him sleeping on the way over and also dealing with jet-lag. We’re not bringing his carseat, since my in-laws have one for us to use when we get there. So we’ll use the CARE strap on the plane. I wonder how he’ll be sleeping semi-upright. I guess he sleeps in his carseat sometimes, so it should be okay. At least we’ll have some extra hands to help out when we arrive.

And I’m so excited to go to Germany! We finally settled on Münster. I booked the hotel last night. It should be right near the Christmas Market! I think I’ll need a few hours to browse through a bookstore, too :)

The German story hour finally started the first Friday in November! Our first session was quite a disappointment. No one came :( But the second week we had three families! And the third week we had one repeat and three more families!!! :D We even had a grandmother join us, because she wants to learn German, since her son and his family will be living in Germany for three years. The level of German among our visitors is varied. We had a native-speaker mother, a woman who majored in German in college, a heritage learner (who didn’t actually pick up much German from her father), several German au pairs (whose charges don’t speak German … yet), and a German grandmother. It’s wonderful to have so many different people! I’m just so excited that we’re getting visitors and can continue in the new year! We’ll have a hiatus now until our special Christmas session on December 16th. I’ve been keeping a blog of all stories, songs, and other activities from each session. If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to, you can check it out at German Story Time.

The story hour is also proving to be a great way for me to connect with other German-speakers. I’m not only meeting other parents like myself. But I’m also learning about other programs in our area. One mother started a nature-based program for children that sounds like a lot of fun. And I just got a message from a woman who started an after-school language program right in my backyard! Amazing!

As for my own endeavors to speak German with Aleksander, I’d say it’s been a little hit or miss. Some days are great. Others … well, I could do better. My in-laws were visiting in October for about 2 weeks. I took advantage of having extra help to get a lot of things done outside the house, so I wasn’t around as much then to speak German with Aleksander. Not to sound like a broken record, but I still have trouble when we’re out in public. Ah well. I suppose the most important thing is that I keep trying!

 

Two More Weeks to Storytime! October 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 9:53 pm
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I can’t believe I still have two more weeks until my storytime starts! I’ve been working on my program for each of the three November sessions for the past couple of weeks. Here’s the plan for the first session – Auf dem Bauernhof (On the Farm):

  • Schweinchen auf dem Bauernhof  (Little Piglet on the Farm)
  • “Hopp, hopp, hopp”
  • Bobo auf dem Bauernhof  (Bobo on the Farm)
  • Hoppe, hoppe Reiter (knee bouncer)
  • Die Fliege – Fingerspiel (Finger play)
  • Die Kleine Spinne spinnt und schweigt  (The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle)
  • “Die winzig kleine Spinne” + “Die riesen-große Spinne” & “Die kitzlig-witzlig Spinne” (“Itsy-Bitsy Spider)
  • “Die Wanze (Auf der Mauer, auf der Lauer)” (The Bug)

Okay, so since we’re reading The Very Busy Spider with all the farm animals, I’m taking the liberty of also doing a few other bug things :) It all works, I think!

For the second session, we’ll be celebrating Martinstag. I’ve found two books I think will work. (Not an easy task! It’s so hard to find books online, especially without being able to look through them first. I also haven’t been able to bring myself to order from Amazon.de and pay the steep shipping.) Of course we’ll sing some songs (“Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne” and “Laterne, Laterne”). I also thought I’d bake some goose cookies and let the kids make some easy lanterns for a little parade.

The third session will focus on Fahrzeuge (vehicles). But I haven’t got a plan for that one yet….

So things are really shaping up!! Two of my friends have told me they plan to attend. Hurrah!! Neither of them are speaking German with their kids. But one was a German major in college and is really excited about exposing her daughter to the language. The other has no German ties, but still likes the idea of language exposure (she herself is the daughter of a Norwegian and spoke the language as a young child but didn’t retain it :(). I don’t know yet if any of my other publicity is paying off. I plan on stopping by the Saturday school where I used to teach to hand out flyers in person this week. So keep your thumbs pressed for me (German expression ;)) that we’ll get enough interest to keep it going in to next year!

***

As for Aleksander, he’s still jabbering away! Not adding a whole lot to his vocabulary. One new thing he’s started saying is “yay”. It’s so funny, because he does it really deadpan – no real enthusiasm behind it. But he usually claps when he says it, so clearly he’s excited or proud of himself :)  He’s also been doing something new: when he wants me to do something, he says “Ama, dee” (he still calls me Ama, although he’s been doing better at saying Dada with the first “d”). At first I thought he was saying “Mama, read” but then I realized he does it whenever he wants me to do something, so I guess it’s more like “Mama, do”. He’s also really saying “bye-bye” now. And I think he’s trying to say other things like “ball”. Tonight he wanted me to read, so I said “read… can you say read?” And he went “eeeeeeeee” :) It seems like we make tiny bits of progress every day, and I find it all quite thrilling!

 

Story Time Update October 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 9:43 pm
Tags: ,

We’re moving forward with the German story time! I’ve put together a flyer and am now emailing everyone I know in our area to try to drum up enough interest to keep it going past the trial run in November! So if you know any German-speakers with kids who live in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, let them know that the story hour will be held the first three Fridays in November from 10:00 to 10:30 at the Paoli Library! We’ll also have a special holiday session on December 16th. I had to eliminate the Nikolaus session, since I’ll be in the Netherlands :( It’s a shame, since it’s such a great topic for the little ones, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Once we get see who shows up, maybe I’ll be able to ask one of the other moms to take over for that week. We’ll have to wait and see!

I’m putting together a list of books and songs for each session and also deciding on a hello and goodbye song. If you have any suggestions, I’m happy to hear them! Here are the topics for each session:

  • November 4: auf dem Bauernhof (on the farm)
  • November 11: Martinstag
  • November 18: Fahrzeuge (vehicles)
  • December 16: Weihnacht (Christmas)

I’ve also started another blog for the story hour where I’ll post the books we read and the songs we sing each week. Check it out: German Story Time

On another, more personal note…. If you’ve noticed I haven’t written in a little while it’s partly because I was away on a Women’s Healing Retreat in Sedona!!! It was amazing!! I was gone for 5 days (2 days mostly of travel). I had a number of babysitters lined up to watch Aleksander, and he did great! So I was able to fully enjoy my rejuvenating time away. There was a massage, acupuncture, and two hikes with yoga up on the red rocks.

Here we are up on Bell Rock. I’m the second from the left in the purple top.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

 

Odds and Ends September 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 10:18 pm
Tags: , ,

It seems a lot has been going on since I last wrote! So here’s an update on a few things that are going on in our bilingual world….

Aleksander’s speech—  After thinking and thinking and thinking about it, I’ve finally decided to wait a little longer before pursuing a speech assessment. From my perspective, I see progress in Aleksander’s speech every day. He babbles all day long, testing out all kinds of sounds. And I’m pretty sure he’s trying out new words, even if he’s not saying them very clearly or consistently. Words like “balloon” and “ball” and even “Gabel” (fork). He’s also starting to say “bye-bye.”

Most importantly, we know that 1) he doesn’t have a hearing problem, and 2) there are no issues with comprehension. He understands everything I say  -  in German and English  -  even without additional cues like pointing or context or tone of voice.

I observe Aleksander playing with language all day long. He’s still learning new signs (his latest is “bubbles”) and uses them to tell me things or identify pictures. Lately he likes to do the motions to songs like “Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” It’s pretty funny, because he doesn’t want me to sing or sign them with him. So it’s just silent as he goes through the motions :)

Another thing that is both amazing me and cracking me up is his sense of humor  -  he’s actually teasing me! Sometimes when we look at a book, I ask him where things are, such as a butterfly. He points to several other images, and I say what they are. Then he kind of giggles and finally points to the butterfly! Can this even be possible?! I don’t know, but that’s what he’s doing!

Story Time—  I finally met with the director of the library, and we are setting the German story time idea into motion. She suggested we start in November and try to focus in part on holidays. So in addition to a couple of themes such as the farm and vehicles, I’ll plan sessions for Martinstag, Nikolaus, and Weihnacht. I’m really excited about it! And a little nervous, too, now that it’s really happening :)  I’m also having trouble finding books for the holiday sessions. Any suggestions???

Europe, here we come!—  Out of the blue, PER brought up the idea of going to the Netherlands in December. What?!? Really?!? YES!!! We’re really going this time. We’ve booked the tickets and everything. We’ll go after Thanksgiving for about 12 days. Of course I’m still a little nervous about international travel with Aleksander. I’ll try to be as prepared as possible. But since we’re doing it, I figure I may as well try and relax and just go with the flow. I’m really excited about heading back to Europe and visiting our friends. And the bonus is that we get to go to a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Germany!!! Hurrah!! That was always one of my favorite things about living in Germany. Now we just have to figure out where to go. Any suggestions? Maybe Münster? Düsseldorf? I generally prefer the smaller towns, but I just don’t know this area. So we’ll have to see….

 

 
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