German in the Afternoon

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

NikolausbĂźcher?? 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!!🙂


I’ve written a book! September 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 9:12 pm
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I recently got a great deal on a photo book through Shutterfly. But I couldn’t quite decide what to put in it. So I got the idea to try to use it to write a picture book in German for Aleksander (and me, too!). I figured I should choose a topic for which I could take the pictures. So I decided on one that gives me an awful lot of trouble: cooking! I have a lot of vocabulary for food in German. But I don’t know many of the utensils or the verbs and phrases I need. Aleksander and I have been making pancakes somewhat regularly lately, and the lack of words I needed was really starting to annoy me. So that’s what I wrote about!

Yesterday we made pancakes together, and I took lots and lots of pictures. I even made him a chef’s hat! (He wanted absolutely nothing to do with it, but luckily PER coaxed him in to putting it on tonight!) I tried to make the book so that it not only told a story but also helped teach vocabulary. I included a list of words in the back. And also put in the recipe, of course! (Although that was tricky, since measurements are done differently here and in Germany. So it turned into a combo of English measurements with German words.)

I just ordered the book and can’t wait to see in person how it turned out! If you’d like to head over to Shutterfly to take a look, click here.


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😀

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🙂


Book Depository Update April 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 4:22 pm

Last month I told you about a resource I found for buying international books. At that point, I had only just discovered The Book Depository. So I could tell you that the prices are amazing, and they offer free shipping around the world! But now I can also tell you that my books arrived in a timely fashion and in good condition. I don’t know exactly how long they took to arrive, since we were away when they were delivered. But it only took between 1 and 2 weeks. Not bad! Each book came in its own individual package instead of in one big box. I thought that was a little odd, but it didn’t make any difference! It kind of felt like Christmas getting to open up all the packages🙂

So now I just have to be careful not to order too often!! I just got an email that they’re having a sale: 10% off now through May 14th with code APMA12. I might be in trouble!🙂


Frohe Ostern! April 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 11:28 pm
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Happy (early) Easter!!

I was just working on the books and songs for my next German story time, and I thought I’d share some of the books and songs I’ve found. This session has been a challenge for me, as I really know nothing about Easter for children in Germany. What songs do they sing? What books do they read? I’ve found quite a lot of songs, surprisingly, but I have no idea which ones might be typically sung. As for books, I basically just looked for books about bunnies and eggs!

So far, I plan to keep our own celebrating at home rather low-key for Aleksander. I found a fun Elmo basket for him and got some small, inexpensive toys to put in it. I also will hide plastic eggs around the house – or maybe in the yard, depending on the weather – for him to find. In each egg, he’ll find a little capsule that, when you put it in water, grows into a spongy animal shape. I thought he’d have fun watching them grow (and playing in the water, of course!). So far, Aleksander is not much of a chocolate or sweets eater. I’m pretty okay with that🙂 So one day, maybe we’ll add some chocolates to his Easter basket, but not just yet.

What kinds of things do you do to celebrate Easter?

*  *  *

Back to the German story time…. Here’s a list of what I’m planning (for song lyrics, click over to my story time blog). If anyone has suggestions to add, please let me know!!

Lieder  /  Songs

  • “Häschen in der Grube”
  • “Osterhas, bring mir was”  (Melodie: “Häschen klein”)
  • “Heute geh’n wir Eier suchen”  (Melodie: “Häschen in der Grube”)

Kniereiter  /  Knee Bouncer

  • Klein Häschen wollt’ spazieren geh’n (okay, this one is really a song, but I thought it made for a fun knee bouncer!)

Bßcher  /  Books

  • “Osterhas, Osterhas” from the book Mein großes Osterbuch  (Ravensburger, 2007)

  • Ein buntes Ei vom Hasenfranz by Ursel Scheffler & Wolfgang Slawski (Ravensburger, 2008)

  • Eins, zwei, drei, fertig ist das Osterei! by Ursel Scheffler & Wolfgang Slawski (Ravensburger, 2012)

  • Der Hase mit der roten Nase by Helme Heine (Beltz, 2004)

Also, for some more info on Easter songs, I’ve found some websites that have been useful:


New Site for Ordering Books!! March 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 10:01 pm
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I just stumbled across a website for ordering books, and I’m SOOOOO excited!! Not only do they have a great selection of German books (and I think books in other languages, too), but the prices are amazing and the shipping is FREE!!!!! Yes, free to most countries! What?! It almost seems too good to be true! Let me give you an example of their astounding prices:

One of the books I wanted to get was from the Bodo Bär series. I decided on Bodo Bär am Meer (a board book). The price was only $5.89. I price compared with, where the price was 4.95 Euro!! That’s better than the exchange rate, which would put it at about $6.50!!

Need another example? How about Elmar rettet den Regenbogen? The price was $13.39. On 11.90 Euro. The exchange rate puts that at $15.67. Crazy!!

Honest, I’m not getting any compensation for this review! I’m just SOOOO excited!! (Wait, did I say that already?)

The only drawback I can find is that searching for books isn’t exactly geared toward searching for (children’s) books in a foreign language. You can do an advanced search and narrow down by language. But they don’t have options like searching by age. So it might still be easier to browse on a site like and then see if you can find it here.

Oh wait – what is this website, you ask? It’s called The Book Depository. Have you heard of it? Any experience with it? I’d love to hear about it! Especially if you’re looking for books in another language – are the results as good?

Happy book-shopping!


Die kleine Raupe January 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 11:12 pm
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I only discovered the world of Eric Carle a few years ago. But since Aleksander was born, these books have become some of my favorites. At my baby shower, Anika gave me a German version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt). I can now recite the whole thing by heart :)  I’m not sure I can say that about the English version!

For Aleksander’s 2nd birthday, we did a Hungry Caterpillar theme. It was really fun putting all the details together🙂 I was especially pleased with the caterpillar cupcake-cake:

The day of his party, he even said one of his first German words: Raupe (caterpillar)! He liked the decorations so much, we left most of them up in our basement. You could say we have quite a thing for all things Caterpillar here, especially in German….

Last summer, I got a DVD of die kleine Raupe story plus four more … all in German! Although he didn’t show much interest in it at first, Aleksander has fallen in love with this DVD just as much as I have. We watch it regularly. Each story is illustrated with animated drawings from the Eric Carle books. The images are beautiful and vibrant.

The stories on the DVD are:

  • Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt
  • Papa, bitte hol fĂźr mich den Mond vom Himmel
  • Die kleine Grille singt ihr Lied
  • Chamäleon Kunterbunt
  • Ich male ein Lied

Although it isn’t listed on their website, the DVD is available through Alphabet Garten. You’d have to contact them, and they can get it in 3 weeks for about $25. It’s also available from if that’s an option for you.

And did you know that there is a song in German about die kleine Raupe? (Nothing in English, though!) It’s called “Das Lied von der Raupe Nimmersatt” by Stephen Janetzko. You can dowload it from iTunes or I have to admit, it kind of annoyed me at first, but it has really grown on me! I sing the chorus to Aleksander whenever we see any caterpillar🙂

I also know of an older recording by Ludger EdelkĂśtter. It’s referred to as a Singspiel. And there is a song called “Der Schmetterling erinnert sich.” So far, I’ve only been able to find it used on A friend loaned me her old cassette from 1990. It’s a really cute rendition of the story set to music. Too bad it isn’t more readily available.

Finally, I’ve found a couple of audio books on CD that are available from When we went to Europe in December, I ordered two of them from to be sent to my in-laws before we arrived.

The first is by Rolf Nagel (Jumbo Neue Medien & Verlag Gmbh, 2008). He offers wonderful renditions of:

  • Die kleine Raupe
  • Gute Reise, bunter Hahn
  • Die kleine Grille singt ihr Lied
  • Das kleine GlĂźhwĂźrmchen
  • Die Affenmutter liebt ihr Kind
  • Die kleine Spinne spinnt und schweigt

There is also a song called Das Geburtstagslied with music by Ulrich Maske.

Aleksander has really enjoyed listening to die kleine Raupe. It’s the story he knows best. I was surprised he was willing to sit and listen to the story without any pictures, but he does!

The second audio CD was a bit of a mistake. You see, it isn’t in Hochdeutsch (standard German), it’s in Sächsisch! Oops! It’s actually called De Glene Raupe Nimmersatt. I don’t know how that fact escaped me as I was ordering. Another lesson in why I shouldn’t do these things at night when I’m tired! Well, if you’re interested in German dialect, this audio CD is by Uwe Steimle (Jumbo Neue Medien & Verlag Gmbh, 2009).

So far those are all the German versions I’ve been able to find of the story. If you know of any others, let me know!

(No, I’m not getting compensation for advertising!)