German in the Afternoon

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

Quick Update May 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 5:40 pm
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In my last post, I announced that my new site of German activities is finally up and running. I’m trying to post as regularly as I can with new activities to download or ideas for including more German in your day. I wish I posted more often, but at least it’s a start!

So far, I have a couple of ideas for putting words in front of your kids. If you’re like me, you’re hoping the German reading skills will keep pace with the English. We’re not there, but I keep trying!

I also have materials on topics like Easter, body parts, space, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There are word posters, which can be printed full-size to make – well, posters :)  Or you can print them 6-to-a-page for perfect playing cards for matching or memory games or flashcards. There are some coloring pages and games, too.

Oh, and did I mention it’s all FREE? I thought about posting materials on a site to make some money, but in the end, I decided I would much rather share it all with the world! If you end up using any of the activities, I’d love some feedback!

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On another note, I recently came up with another idea to get Aleksander to speak more German. Every Monday (well, for two weeks, at least!), we go on a “German date” after school. We get hot chocolate or frozen yogurt and play a German game while we enjoy our treat. The first time, we played a space board game (it’s over on the other site) and did a short reading with some comprehension questions. This week, we played the space memory game (also on the other site). Today, we had so much fun, he actually declared that we should have German dates more often! I’m still having to prompt the German quite a lot, but it’s working.

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I’ve recently been keeping up with Corey over at Multilingual Living through Facebook. She – or one of her contributors – has had a few interesting ideas about incorporating language. One ideas was to do just 10 minutes a day. But I think it was every day. That sounded pretty good to me. Surely, there must be 10 minutes to eek out of each day for German! The other idea is a little more radical: remove all English books and DVDs for the summer. It was an interesting experiment. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try it, but it’s only for the summer, right? (Of course, the author lives in England where they only have 6 weeks of vacation!)

Mostly, I just want some kind of consistency. I feel like we’re all over the place these days. A little here, maybe some there. It’s so sporadic. I still believe that children thrive on routines. So why isn’t German a part of our daily routine??

 

New Site is Finally Up! February 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 3:14 pm
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A while back, I mentioned that I was going to start posting some of the German activities I create for my boys. Well, I’m slowly making a start! Just put up the first post. You can check it out at German in the Afternoon Activities.

I have so many things I could add. It’s going to take a while to get there. So I’m just plunging in, starting right where we are now.

One of the reasons I started creating materials is because Aleksander was an early reader in English. And I didn’t want his German to fall behind – at least not too far. But it can be so hard to find materials here in the United States. So the teacher in me popped out and decided to start making my own.

I’ll do my best to continue to add regularly. Bear with me!

 

Story Hour Update February 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 2:54 pm
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In the fall of 2014, I took over the leadership of the German story hour at our local library again. I had started the story hour back in 2011, but things got complicated when I was pregnant with Kearnan, so I handed over the reigns to another mom. But when she moved away, I became its leader again.

I’ve always had a theme for the books and songs of each session, but last fall I decided to add a little something more. We also do some kind of activity or craft that is aimed to help children practice some basic vocabulary.

Now with the beginning of 2016, I’m adding another layer. Instead of individual themes for each session, I’m creating a unit that will last 4 or 5 sessions. This way, we can rotate and repeat the books and songs, thus reinforcing some language input. As an adult, I think repetition can be rather boring. But when I watch my kids, I see them doing the same thing over and over … and over again. And I was reminded that they obviously thrive on repetition. It’s taken a lot of planning, but so far it’s worth it!

To help facilitate the unit, I’ve revived my old story hour blog. Parents can use it as a resource to learn about which books we’ll be reading, find a PDF download for the song lyrics, and also find links to crafts and PDF downloads to the activities I’ve created myself.

I thought some of you readers out there might enjoy following along. Or at least, you might be interested in some of the downloads. You can check out the blog over at German Storytime.

 

How I Do Love My Bilingual Kids! February 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 5:49 pm
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This post was written for February’s edition of the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival, hosted by Adam over at Bilingual Monkeys. Inspired by Valentine’s Day, he asked that we share a post about the things we love about raising bilingual children, since we all too often write about the challenges. A wonderful idea!


 

The decision to raise our children bilingual was an easy one. I always knew I wanted to pass on my love of language. I just didn’t know how challenging it would be! But it’s been worth every moment:)

I swell with pride every time I hear one of my boys spontaneously speak German. It’s one thing to drag it out of them, insisting that it’s German time, so they need to answer in German. But when they do it on their own, I know it’s all worth it.

Here are a few little anecdotes of our small successes….

Aleksander attends a Montessori school for Kindergarten. When a child has a birthday, there are no cupcakes and party. Instead, they have a beautiful ceremony. The family is invited to attend, so Kearnan, my parents, and Julia (our au pair from Austria) all came along. I wrote out a little story of the life of Aleksander and brought in a picture for each year of his life (impossible task to choose just one for each year!). The birthday child is accompanied by two friends into the circle and is given the globe of the earth to hold. For each year, he walks around the sun holding the earth. The sun is laid out on the floor, labeled with months. Aleksander and Kearnan set it up before the ceremony. As Aleksander picked up the blocks for each month, he counted out the months up to that one. And he did it in German! There the two of them were, counting out loud for the whole class to hear. It may sound like a small thing, but I was overjoyed! And then, of course, I always cry during the ceremony:)

Lately, I’ve been hearing Kearnan singing a lot. He sings all kinds of songs that he knows. And the other day, I heard him singing “Ich bin die kleine Hexe” (from Die 30 besten Spiel- und Bewegungslieder). Woo hoo!!!! And we haven’t even heard that song in months! As if that wasn’t great enough, he recently gave us a little concert after lunch. He sang “Alle meine Entchen,” “Der Mond ist aufgegangen,” “Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf,” and “La, Le, Lu.” I was grinning from ear to ear! I had no idea he remembered the words to all those songs!

When I was putting Kearnan down for a nap recently, he was giving me some trouble as I tried to get him into a sleepsack. So I started asking him things like “Wo ist deine Nase?” (Where is your nose?) He knew all the words!

These may sound like small triumphs. But considering how inconsistent we’ve been with German, I take every little bit of production as one more step on the journey to bilingualism.

I don’t know if my kids will ever speak fluent German. But I still feel like it’s worth it to keep plugging away at it. I still believe they gain so much from it.

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Here are my sweet boys holding hands as we walked through Ikea :)    Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

A Whole Year?! November 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 7:04 am
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Has it really been a whole year since I’ve checked in here?! Yikes! So here’s what we’ve been up to….

Our year with Lisa flew by! She finished in May, and then we had a lovely woman helping out for the summer. She spoke French, though, not German :)  So we tried to work it in where we could.

In July, we traveled back to the Netherlands. This time, PER had the idea to fly in and out of Frankfurt (mostly because of the nicer airplane!) and then drive the 4 or 5 hours to the Netherlands. It worked out really well. On the ride, Kearnan was beside himself with joy every time he spotted a windmill! :)  But the best part was that Aleksander’s awareness of the culture and language was definitely perking up. By the time we were ready to leave Oma & Opa’s, he told me that we should move to the Netherlands, so he could learn Dutch!

Okay, but the very best part was that on our way home, we actually spent 3 nights in Frankfurt!! We had a hotel right near the Fußgängerzone, so we could walk everywhere. The boys were still pretty young to really appreciate it :)  But I just LOVED it! On our second day, Lisa drove up to meet us!! It was so wonderful to reconnect with her again. We all went to the zoo together (an easy 15-minute walk!) and had a fantastic time.

A week after we returned home, our new au pair, Julia, arrived from Austria. She’s been amazing, too! I think we could always have more German in the house, but it’s so helpful to have her here – on so many levels!

I’ve started leading the story hour again at our local library. I’m really getting into it this year. I’m trying to make it more than just books and songs by adding a little learning for the children. I sometimes have vocabulary words to share with them (pictures, mostly) and also a project. We had some fun with colors and Eric Carle’s Brauner Bär, Braunder Bär. Last week, we celebrated Martinstag and made lanterns. We even paraded through the whole little library!

Even more exciting for me is that I’ve started teaching a German class at Aleksander’s school!! I go in every other week for a 30-minute lesson with his pre-K/Kindergarten class. There are about 17 children, ages 3 to 6. I’m absolutely loving it! I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work. I’m so used to going in to story hour and just speaking German! So I had to change my approach and realize that I’m not there so much to teach as to expose the children to the language at this point. That being said, I was THRILLED when one of the children remembered both auf wiedersehen and tschüss from our previous lesson – even after 2 weeks!! We also worked on colors for our first lesson and then talked about Martin last week. The teachers in the classroom are extremely supportive. And another thrill for me is hearing a little voice pipe up with a beautiful German accent …. and then realizing it’s my own Aleksander :)  He really has been listening all these years! He doesn’t like to speak up when we go around the circle to repeat phrases, but with a little coaxing, he does!

This whole process has never been perfect. There are always a million more things I wish I were doing to help further my kids’ language learning. But it is still happening!

 

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!!:)

 

Eins… zwei… drei… November 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 10:23 pm
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Kearnan started counting in English a few weeks ago. He still mixes up the numbers sometimes, and he doesn’t quite have the whole concept down, but it’s really adorable when he tries to put them all together!

Yesterday, he was sitting at the table eating a mini bag of M&M’s from Halloween (a rare treat around here). I was busy decorating the Mickey gift bags for Aleksander’s birthday party in a couple of weeks. I heard him counting them out. And then my ears perked up, and what did I hear?! “Eins… zwei… drei…” What?!? Yes!!! He was counting in German!!! It went something like this: “Eins … zwei… drei… vier… fünf… sechs… sieben… acht… neun… … fünf!!” For some reason, he thinks that 5 comes after 9. But he says it with such great enthusiasm!

Later that day, Lisa told me she had also heard Kearnan counting in German. Funny that we both noticed it on the same day. It’s such a thrill!

 

 
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